No longer the Unknown Runner!

No longer the Unknown Runner!

 Years from now, when Geoffrey Kipsang looks back on his life’s journey, he could well stumble upon an old DVD gathering dust beneath a pile of gold medals.‘The Unknown Runner’, the title would say -- ‘A Story of Struggle, Sacrifice and Dedication.’

Made in 2011 and released a year later, it is a documentary on Kipsang – on his journey to the first marathon race of his life. Two years after its release, however, the title of the documentary is already looking a bit out of place. With successes in some of the major competitions around the world, the Kenyan has already made a name for himself and if he continues in the same way, he might well end up as the hottest property in the road running world.

Two years ago in the World 10K in Bangalore, Kipsang gave glimpses of his talent with a superb win. On Sunday, he revealed more of his immense potential with another spectacular triumph in difficult conditions. It was more or less a start-to-finish victory, after he collared his rivals past the 4km point with a breakaway move. Eye-catching was his pace and stunning was his execution. “I had to attack as I wanted to break the course record. I felt the pace was slow and that is why I pushed. All my plans went well on the day,” said the 21-year-old, who won the world half-marathon title at Copenhagen in March this year.

Kipsang had just become the world junior cross country champion in 2011 when Dutch director Boudewijn de Kemp began production of the ‘Unknown Runner,’ aiming to capture the journey of an upcoming athlete towards his first marathon. “I was a late starter in athletics and people were surprised by my rise. It was as if I had come from nowhere,” said Kipsang, who hails from Chepkorio village, 32 kilometres from Eldoret in Kenya’s Rift Valley province. “The film is about my life, my training, my coaches... it has been made so that upcoming athletes can watch it and get inspired,” said Kipsang, who has three brothers and three sisters. “It felt a bit strange when they started filming me. But then I got used to it and it was fun.”

Kipsang regarded his 2012 win in Bangalore as an important one in his career. “It contributed a lot to my success. I used the money to help in my sisters’ education and also bought a (used) car, a Toyota saloon. It also helped me in my training.” After his latest success, Kipsang’s financial woes will certainly subside. Including the course record bonus, Kipsang earned 28,500 dollars in Bangalore while his efforts in Copenhagen fetched him 30,000 dollars. “I want to help my family and also utilise it for my training and preparations,” said the man who has ambitions of making a mark on the marathon circuit, besides winning an Olympic medal.

Thanks to his exploits, from being an unknown runner, Kipsang has quickly become a famous name back home. And unquestionably, he is a name to reckon with on the road-running circuit.