New Wins: Eliud Kipchoge

Athletes*

His historic 1:59:40 marathon was just the beginning. Now, Eliud Kipchoge is using his super-human achievements to inspire people everywhere to rethink their potential.

Last updated: September 2, 2021
8 min read

He always sleeps on the top bunk at training camp. He loves Kelly Clarkson’s music. And he’s igniting a worldwide movement that goes way beyond sport. Eliud Kipchoge’s legendary status was sealed when he broke the mythical two-hour marathon barrier. Now, those who know him share an intimate portrait of a legend who is redefining success.

A Humble Hero

When Gloria Kosgei, a lawyer in Eliud Kipchoge’s hometown of Eldoret, Kenya, first met the legendary marathoner, he did something that surprised her: He introduced himself.

“The first time we met, he was extremely friendly. He said, ‘Gloria, my name is Eliud.’ He had to introduce himself. Who doesn't know Eliud?” she says, laughing.

Now a close friend of Kipchoge, Gloria revels in the runner’s unassuming nature—a trait that has earned him adoration and respect in his home country and beyond.

“Everyone talks about his humility,” says Gloria. “In Kenya, we have lots of great athletes, but to find an athlete of his class with his humility, that is something rare. He doesn’t seek special treatment, he stands in line just like the rest of us. Eliud is a high-profile athlete, but he doesn't see himself that way. He tells you, ‘I'm Eliud. There's nothing more.’”

“Eliud is a high-profile athlete, but he doesn't see himself that way. He tells you, ‘I'm Eliud. There's nothing more.’”

New Wins
New Wins

Kipchoge’s longtime lawyer, Richard Cheruiyot, has known him longer than most. Richard, who also lives in Eldoret, has been tight with Eliud for over 20 years and says that despite Kipchoge’s success, the man’s attitude—and his sleeping arrangements—haven’t changed.

“In those early days when he was an unknown entity, he used to go to the athletics camp in Kaptagat, Kenya. He has become a World Champion, but he still goes to the camp and sleeps on the top of a double-decker bed. He doesn't find any qualms with that,” Richard says, sounding bemused by his client and friend.

“When he's outside the camp, because of his popularity, he tends to become some sort of a magnet. People just come around him asking for questions or seeking selfies, and I've never seen him turn away anybody.”

Consistency Is King

Kipchoge embodies another trait that inspires those who know him: unwavering discipline. Emilie Mullier Charrier, a Berlin-based real estate agent and marathoner who met him at the 2018 Berlin Marathon, says that after meeting Kipchoge she became motivated to train more seriously—and as a result she dropped an hour from her marathon time. But the benefits of that mentality have extended far beyond her training.

“Eliud influenced me a lot,” she says. “When you see his discipline, his consistency and dedication for running, you want to do the same. I also apply what he's doing for running in my professional life. Always having a plan, a program, doing my best every day, even if I’m not good. I just want to always give my best and be better than yesterday, like him.”

New Wins
New Wins
New Wins

Another Kipchoge disciple is Usila Koech, a Las Vegas-based loan officer. Usila’s family has been close with Kipchoge’s coach, Patrick Sang, for over 30 years. Her two sons are runners, and like Emilie, they’ve adopted Kipchoge’s work ethic.

“In 2019, our whole family went to Kenya and we requested to meet him, even though we knew that he was getting ready for his attempt to run a sub-two hour marathon in Vienna. He showed up on time and gave us his undivided attention. He hugged the boys, gave them this big smile and a warm embrace. He shared his story, asked the boys genuinely what their dreams are, and told them, "Everything that you want to do, you will do it. You just have to be disciplined. You have to be consistent. You have to work hard."

New Wins
New Wins

He shared his story, asked the boys genuinely what their dreams are, and told them, "Everything that you want to do, you will do it. You just have to be disciplined. You have to be consistent."

The Koech family took a picture with Kipchoge that day. Months later, they were in the crowd when Kipchoge ran his historic marathon in Vienna. The experience, and the conversations they had with Kipchoge before the race, left a deep impression on Usila’s sons.

“Meeting Eliud changed how they generally approach the world,” says Usila. “We have this ongoing joke in our family that most people say, ‘What would Jesus do?’ We say, ‘What would Eliud do?’ We think about this because you don't become great by doing mediocre things. You become great by really, really being disciplined and being consistent.”

Igniting Inspiration

Kipchoge’s approach to success is inspiring because he makes any goal seem attainable. Madhvi Dalal, a Welsh-born pharmacist and founder of a nonprofit in Nairobi that aims to address period poverty, witnessed Kipchoge’s magic firsthand when he volunteered with her in Samburu County in Kenya.

“Child marriages and early pregnancies are common in this part of the country,” says Madhvi. “I teach the girls about menstrual health and sexual rights. But Kipchoge taught them so much more. He said, ‘Vitamin N is the right to say no. And that's more important than any vitamin. You have the right to say no.’ He also said, ‘Your best friend is a book.’ And so many girls remembered this. Two months later, when people asked, ‘What do you want to do when you grow older?’ They said they wanted to be engineers, pilots, etcetera. He gave them hope.”

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While Kipchoge left Madvhi’s girls dreaming of their future careers, Elijah “Eljay” Mutua, a graffiti artist in Nairobi, cites the runner as an ongoing influence that pushes his artistry.

“Kipchoge has inspired me to believe that you can be unstoppable,” says Eljay. “The greatest lesson I learned was to stay true to myself, no matter what. Your persona always appears in your work. It's like a signature. So when you find yourself, you find the key to everything else.”

“Kipchoge has inspired me to believe that you can be unstoppable.”

New Wins

The True Legacy

From Eldoret to Las Vegas, Eliud uses his gift not just to break records, but to inspire and empower others to pursue their purpose.Whether it’s a personal best, a new pursuit, or a brighter future, Kipchoge has changed the course of these people’s lives, helping them surpass their own obstacles and achieve their own goals.

This global community of believers in their own limitlessness is Kipchoge’s true legacy, one that will outlast his gold medals, his super-human speed, and his shining moments on a podium. Toward the end of our interview, Usila Koech—the woman whose entire family lives by the motto, “What would Eliud do?”—cuts to the heart of that legacy.

“I think his mission—and I really believe this in my heart—is to leave the world a much better place than he found it.”

Muralist: Elijah “Eljay” Mutua
Photographers: Kyle Weeks and Chris Anderson

New Wins
New Wins

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