Kenenisa Bekele Talks About His First Marathon: “(For) my first marathon, it was not bad… I was not tired… If my muscles (didn’t cause me trouble), it would be possible to run even under 2:04 or something (like that).”

Interview by Alberto Stretti, transcription by
April 7, 2014

Yesterday, Kenenisa Bekele made a successful marathon debut by winning Paris in a course record 2:05:03. Afterwards, Italian journalist and frequent poster Alberto Stretti caught up with Bekele for a seven minute Q&A. Since English isn’t the native language of either Stretti or Bekele, we decided to transcribe the interview and slightly edit it for your convenience.

You can watch the whole thing below on the right if you have time or read the transcription below.

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Stretti: A very good debut. Are you satisfied?

Kenenisa Bekele: Yes I was satisfied. (For) my first marathon, it was not bad. I expected to run under 2:05 but (2:05:03) is very close. It’s ok. I’m satisfied. My first marathon – I did well, winning and (getting) the course record.

0:40: What happened about 32km(Editor’s note, we think he said 32 but maybe it was 30)? Did you have cramps in your leg?

Yes. My hamstring was not doing well – just cramping sometimes. I worried about it maybe stopping me from running. (So) I was worried about it and kept the pace a little bit slow(er) but after 35km I realized it was ok.

1:10 Was there fear that you’d have to stop the race? Or were you sure about your condition to finish the race?

You know I worried. Really, I was worried every time (it cramped), especially at 30 kilometers, it was very tough (not sure if that’s what he said), because my muscle was not working hard. Up top (my lungs) were ok, but muscles weren’t working very hard.

1:55 Your manger (Jos Hermens) said the energy (fitness) inside your body was very good – that your preparation was very good. Are you satisfied about your conditioning? Do you agree?

Yes, yes. I was not tired. I was thinking I could run faster. But my hamstring wasn’t doing the work, it wasn’t stretched (out) or relaxed. That’s why I slowed down the pace but everything (else) was full of energy.

2:40 In the last 5k, it looked like you came back were in very good shape and pushing very hard. Do you have the same opinion (as me)?

Yes. I had to push otherwise a competitor could come close to me (smiles and laughs). With 5 kilometers left, my muscles (in my hamstring) started relaxing and I increased the pace a little bit.

3:15 In the last 100 meters, we saw the Bekele from the track, you recognized you’d be under the course record so we saw the Bekele from the track.

(Laughs). Yes it’s not really the same, but when I recognized the time being inside the course record, I pushed it a little bit.

If I knew with two kilometers, especially 1 and a half kilometers left (1500 meters), that it could be possible to run under 2:05, I (think I could have done it). But I didn’t know (I was near 2:05), but it’s ok.

3:50 In your mind, if everything was ok (went perfectly), was it in your mind to run absolutely under 2:05 – to run 2:04 low?

Yes. If my muscles (didn’t cause me trouble), it would be possible to run even under 2:04 or something (like that), because I lost over 10 kilometers many seconds – every kilometer more than 10 kilometers, (I mean) 10 seconds. It’s not easy. It’s supposed to be under 2:04.

4:35 The pacing today – was it irregular at some moments – or were you happy with the guys?

Yes, it’s ok. I’m happy. It’s not easy. It was challenging everybody. ……unintelligible…. (Editor’s note: We’re not sure if he really understood the question was about the pacing and think he may have been talking about beating the other guys in the race).

5:10 – Last question, how do you feel as a marathon man now? (Are you a marathoner?) Probably you understand what it means to run a marathon. Is it clear now for you what the marathon means?

Yes, yes. It’s clear. Now I (have) a little experience. Next time I will do better. I got some experience and know what the marathon means.

5:45 Now will you think about another marathon this season or is it too early to speak about this idea?

Yes it’s too early. I haven’t decided anything. I will discuss (the future) with my manager and then we’ll decide.

But you’d like to run another marathon?

Of course, of course.

6:10 Different reporter: Why did you choose Paris for your first marathon?

I like to run in Paris. I (made) so much history here since 2003 World Championships (Editor’s note:Bekele won his first World title on the track in Paris in 2003), (also) cross country world champion so many times (Bekele won two world xc titles in 2005 in southern France). I make (a lot) of history here. Paris and London are the same time but I choose Paris as it’s my favorite place.

6:55 Stretti: I close it with the last question I’m allowed. This week there are two important debuts in the marathon – Kenenisa Bekele in Paris and then next week Mo Farah in London. Give three suggestions to Mo Farah as to what it means to be a marathoner.

I don’t think he needs my suggestions. But I wish him good results, a good race. He will know what he will do (needs to do?). So he can feel it, during the race, he will feel what the marathon means….

(Editor’s note: There were a few more stances, but we didn’t 100% understand what Bekele says. We think he basically said something along the lines of it’s better to let him experience it than for me to talk about it.)

More: LRC Kenenisa Bekele Runs 2:05:03 – Breaks Course Record And Smashes Debut Times Of Past Legends Gebrselassie, Tergat And Wanjiru