Exactly 54 days after eclipsing the great Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele and setting a new world record in the 5000 meters, Uganda’s man-of-the-moment Joshua Cheptegei will later today take aim at the 10,000 meters world record ironically also held by Kenenisa.
Cheptegei’s pursuit for this elusive feat that has lasted 15 years will be in Spain at Valencia’s Turia stadium during a special occasion of the NN Valencia world record day.
Kenenisa’s world record set during an event in Brussel Belgium on August 25 2005 stands at 26.17.53. By the time of that achievement, Cheptegei was a nine-year-old dreaming to play football. To the world record, Cheptegei will have to be at his best and eclipse his personal best (26.48.36) at that distance by 30.83 seconds. Conditions for Cheptegei like they were as fellow East African Eliud Kipchoge run the sub-two marathon in Austria are perfect and typically hybrid.
By the time Cheptegei hits the track ‘for history’, the temperature in Valencia is expected to be at a very conducive 25°C and he will also benefit from three world-class pace-setters the first of whom is Dutchman Roy Hoornweg who is expected to take him through the 1500 meter mark in three minutes-55 seconds. Roy will then be replaced by Australia’s Ryan Gregson till the 3000-meter mark hopefully in seven minutes-52seconds. The final pace-setter will be 22-year-old Kenyan Nicolas Kimeli who will be targeting delivering Cheptegei at the 5000-meter mark in 13 minutes and five seconds.
Even after Kimeli leaves the stage for the 23-year-old Ugandan to chase his dream, the man from Kapsewui in Kapchorwa will be aided by a wave light technology to help indicate the pace he needs to enter the record books.
But though the event is ‘hybrid-like’ and Cheptegei likely to benefit from Nike’s performance-enhancing carbon fiber running shoes, he confirms relying on hard work.
“I have had ‘crazy’ training sessions but I am lucky my body responded better and better as I increased my sessions to more than 160 hours weekly,” said the soft-spoken and usually pre-event media-shy Ugandan.
He added that he draws inspiration from the postponed Olympics which he had in mind as number one target but now that is more on world records.
The Ugandan world champion confirms a growing passion for running and is buoyed by being exemplary to his compatriots by doing something wonderful during troubled times like COVID-19 has proved.
He will expect Valencia to be his lucky ground having set a new national record of 26.38 in the 10-kilometer road race in 2019.
The event organized by the NN running team, global sports communication, and SD Correcaminos isn’t only about Cheptegei but has a world-class field lined up for both the men’s and women’s 25 laps. Among the men, names like Australian Stewart McSweyn, American Shadrack Kipchirchir, Spaniard Ouassim Oumaiz, and Uganda’s Stephen Kissa make Cheptegei’s dream of running each 5000 meters in about 13 minutes and five seconds a possibility.
The women’s field is led by Ethiopian prodigy Letensebet Gidey who shares the 15-kilometer road world record with Joshua Cheptegei.