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Brigid Kosgei’s recognition in Kenya after breaking the women marathon’s world record in Chicago

November 4, 2019
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Brigid Kosgei with Paula Radcliffe at the Chicago Marathon

I was lucky to meet Brigid Kosgei’s coach and mentor this weekend in Nairobi during the annual Nairobi Marathon. I was even luckier to get to travel with him all the way from Nairobi to Eldoret, for almost seven hours and learnt quite a lot about the state of training currently in Brigid Kosgei’s camp and how she has been doing just after breaking the world record.

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In this current world where money and a good number of years’ experience is often needed in almost any undertaking in life; be it to look for a job, to get education, to start a business, among others; people who begin from a humble beginning, turn their misfortunes in life into opportunities and end up successful in life are highly regarded in the society. When everything else seems to fail for a dedicated, hard-working and focused individual, running is often the option that can work in ensuring that they make it in life.
Brigid Kosgei would now be any other average woman in the society working somewhere in an office as perhaps a teacher or a secretary, but her lack of school fees to pursue her education turned into a blessing in disguise for her as she is now the best female marathon runner in the world, currently seeming to be competing in a class of her own.

Kosgei just did the unimaginable at the Chicago Marathon on the 13th of October. She ran 1 minute and 21 seconds faster than a world record that had stood for more than 16 years! If there was going to be a debate in the future about when the first woman was going to run under 2:15:00 for the marathon, Kosgei just took us in a quick forward to that future by running an amazing time of 2:14:04 a time that is the envy of many elite runners in the men’s category.

However, during the Kenyan national celebrations to recognize the Kenyan heroes and heroines on the 20th of October, there were so much cheering from the crowds when Brigid Kosgei’s name was called out by the president but when the president looked around for her, just like everyone else, she was nowhere to be seen amongst the huge crowds that had gathered. Kosgei who had travelled all the way from Eldoret to Mombasa for the celebrations was there somewhere in the crowds, together with her coach, trying to fight their way through the security in order to be recognized.

Eric Kimaiyo who coaches, mentors and shaped Kosgei into the world beater she currently is a very humble coach as well in general, but quite strict and highly respected by his runners in the camp.

“There are no secrets to running well,” Kimaiyo offered some free advice as we travelled together watching a live stream of the Venice Marathon in which two other athletes that he coaches finished first in the women’s race (Judith Orir) and second in the men’s race (Henry Kiprop). “With the right training and discipline, every race and distance should be easy.”

Dr. Rosa himself did call during the race to seek reassurance at around the 25km point and Kimaiyo confirmed to him that Judith was in good form and that her finish time should fall under 2:30, which actually happened. Then when Kiprop made a move at around the 35 km point, we cheered in the mini-bus, but he was disappointed with the move as Anfesa Tesfaye hung behind him. “This guy is becoming a second pace setter, he should still remain calm up to the last few kilometers,” he had said. True to his words, the Ethiopian eventually won the race after overtaking Kiprop towards the finish.

While the general public do feel a lot of pride in the achievement of Brigid Kosgei and can relate to her story of working hard from whatever little, or no means, to the top; there seems to be some empty space to be taken up by the Kenyan companies to use the Kenyan runners in a mutual benefit of popularizing the runners more and branding themselves in the process. A few companies, including Isuzu and Safaricom, are already doing that with Eliud Kipchoge.

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