One day of October 2010, Patrick Sang was in his car, travelling for going to Kaptagat camp. Some kilometer before the camp of Global, where he trains the athletes, he saw one guy, still very young, running very fast on the side of the road. Patrick stopped the car, approached the runner asking him “are you interested to become a professional runner ?”. The guy answered : “Yes, last June already I went to compete in Finland before I’ve a friend paying for me the flight, but I was not very good : I ran my first 3000m in 7’54”, and one week later my first 1500m in 3’48””.
“I’m not interested in what you already did. I’m interested in what you can do in the future, and I think you can become a very good runner. Join our camp, tomorrow you can start to work with some of the best Kenyan we have in our group”.
The guy was Geoffrey Kipsang. In less than 4 months, he became the World Junior Champion of Cross Country, showing strong mentality and attitude of front runner.
When I met Geoffrey, I was impressed by his behavior. He always enjoys running, fatigue is for him a stimulus for trying to increase again the speed.
Immediately I told Patrick that the guy had “specific mental attitude” for marathon, and this fact was confirmed when we stayed together some day in Portland and Eugene.
On 3rd June 2011, I was in Eugene with Moses Mosop for the WR of 30 km on track, and in the same day there was one of the best 10000m of the last 5 years. I had with me also Geoffrey, since I collaborate with the management, where I have some athlete (a part Moses, this year moving to Zane Branson, are with Global Abel Kirui and Florence Kiplagat, among the best athletes of marathon I coach).
Geoffrey ran a very good time (27’06”35) in the race won by Mo Farah with the new European Record, also if 20” far from the winner.
Geoffrey was signed for running in New York (5000m) 8 days later.
So, 4 days after 10000m, we went to the track in Eugene, and I told him to run 10 times 600m in 1’33” with 1’30” of recovery, plus 5 times 300m in 42” with longer recovery (about 3’), because I wanted to check his speed.
Geoffrey went together with some other Kenyan working with Ricky Simms (Mark Kiptoo, Mike Kigen and Moses Masai), but after 5 times all the other runners quitted training. Remaining alone, Geoffrey started to cut the recovery, starting every time inside 1’ after finishing the previous test.
When he started his 300m, he didn’t run very fast (his first test was 44”). I told him to run a little bit faster, without looking at the recovery, since this part of training was dedicated to a session of speed. After speaking with him, I started to speak with Lineth Masai, giving my shoulders to the start of 300m (I thought there was time before the start of Geoffrey), but about 1’ later, Geoffrey arrived again on the finish line. So, I didn’t say anything, and I started to look at he was doing : his recovery was 100m running easy, but lasting no longer than 30”, and all the other 300m were between 42” and 43”.
After this training, I told Geoffrey “in NY you run 13’12””, and he ran… 13’12”23 !
After going back Kenya, I spoke with Patrick Sang about this attitude, telling him “the guy can become the next WR holder of HM and of Marathon, if there is patience to build his specific marathon endurance”.
And Patrick started to work in this direction.
Till now, Geoffrey never was really good in the full marathon, since his PB is still in his first attempt. However, I don’t have any doubt he can become an athlete able running under 2:03 in 3 years time.
The problem, in my opinion, is that Geoffrey is very powerful in his muscles, and the consumption of fuel, at marathon speed, is a little bit higher than in runners very light, such as Emmanuel Mutai. For that reason, I think he has to do something different in order to develop in the best way his specific marathon endurance. But, with the help of Patrick and of Eliud Kipchoge (now not only one of the top marathon runners in the World, but also technical assistant of Patrick, and in my opinion future great coach), I think that his explosion as marathon runner is only matter of time.
In Copenhagen, his last 10 km were unbelievable. The split at 10 k was 28'41", and still for 2 km the pace was the same (2'50" / 2'51" per km). This means a time of 3'08" for 1097m, so his split with 10 km to go was (estimated) 31'49". This means last 10 km in 27'18", with last km in about 2'40".
Geoffrey is, of sure, the best candidate for running HM under 58'20", with good pacers in the first part of the race.