Pacemaker Kiptanui wants to be the king, not kingmaker

Fresh from helping Eliud Kipchoge finish a marathon in under two hours, Eric Kipchoge is in the country to run his first Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.

L-R: Athletes Eric Kiptanui, Andamlak Belihu, Hagos Gebrhiwet, Tsehay Gemechu and Caroline Kipkirui at a press conference ahead of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Fresh from helping Eliud Kipchoge become the first person to finish a marathon in under two hours, star pacemaker Eric Kiptanui will run in his first Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM).

Kiptanui started as a 1500m runner in 2016 but has now progressed to long-distance running.

“As I was preparing for ADHM, pacemaking excited me because I wanted to get back into rhythm. Kipchoge is a legend and doing it for him was special for me. He has been running for a long time,” Kiptanui told Sportstar.

He stepped in three times for Kipchoge in the marathon last week.

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Eliud Kipchoge with his pacemakers ahead of his historic Vienna marathon.   -  AP

 

“In pacemaking, you are the one who is controlling the race and there is a lot of pressure on you. The hard work I put in while training helps me in achieving my goals. I am planning to run in marathons next year,” said the captain of the pacemakers group for Kipchoge in Austria.

When asked about his future, he said, “I am progressing now to marathon running. I want to be the king and not the kingmaker. I know someday the son of the king becomes the king. So when he (Kipchoge) goes I want to become the king. No man is limited.”

Defending champions return

The 20-year-olds Andamlak Belihu and Tsehay Gemechu, the defending champions from Ethiopia, are also back.

Belihu is in fine form as he finished fifth in the 10,000m in Doha World Championships.

“It was a little frustrating just missing out on the course record of 59:06 last year but after coming here and doing well in Delhi in the last two years, I have the experience,” he said, adding that he hoped to break the course record this year. “I know what it takes to go faster. The most important thing is to win but if the pace is good, I can beat the course record.”

Gemechu, who set the course record of 66:50 on her debut last year, said, “It was a fast race in Doha and I showed I was in good shape ahead of this race, so I think another course record here is a possibility.”