M-Sport Ford drivers Ott Tänak and Pierre-Louis Loubet showcased the spirit of unity and camaraderie in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) as they joined forces with renowned marathon world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge for a remarkable training run ahead of Safari Rally Kenya, which takes place this week (22 – 25 June).
Kipchoge, 38, is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time as the only human to ever run a marathon in under two hours. He holds the official world record of 2hrs 1min 09sec in marathon as well as boasting four of the fastest six times in history. Additionally, he has achieved two Olympic gold medals in marathon plus a silver and bronze earned in the 5,000m distance.
At an altitude of 2,400m in the scenic Kenyan highlands, Tänak, Loubet and co-driver Martin Järveoja joined Kipchoge at his training camp on the outskirts of Kaptagat. The camp united exceptional talents including women’s world-record holder Faith Kipyegon, two-time New York City Marathon winner Geoffrey Kamworor and 2009 10,000m world champion Linet Masai.
Embracing Kipchoge’s commitment to the environment, the WRC stars each planted a tree to commemorate their visit before embarking on a light jog alongside Kipchoge and his esteemed Kenyan counterparts, culminating in a visit to a local school supported by Kipchoge’s charitable foundation.
Kipchoge expressed his delight at the meeting, stating: “It is good to meet other sportsmen from the other sectors. I am happy to host them and exchange knowledge. The training is different but we share the values of trust and working hard. What I have learned is they are working as a team, as we are on our side.”
“It’s been a mega experience, and Eliud is quite a quick guy to have a jog with!” smiled an enthusiastic Tänak. “To see here how professional people like this are working together, it’s actually not too far off from rallying. We are all people and we are all doing professional sports. Whether it’s motorsport or a marathon, both of us are pushing to the limits and trying to get the maximum out.”
Loubet echoed his team-mate’s sentiments, adding: “It was fantastic, before today I was a big fan of [Kipchoge]. My cousin is a runner so we are all fans of him in my family. To see him in reality is a great honour. He is so humble. A lot of people have to spend a day with him to understand he is such a humble guy.”
Tänak was gifted a signed pair of Kipchoge’s marathon shoes, which the Estonian graciously accepted before presenting him with one of his official racing helmets, joking with his host that he now hoped to run a marathon in under two hours whilst wearing the shoes.