“It all comes down to preparation. He has just as much talent as Kipchoge, but while Kipchoge will prepare for six months before a marathon, Bekele only started 7 weeks ago. That just can’t work…It’s extremely frustrating…. I think he has some kind of dyslexia, an inability to plan…It’s really hard with him.”
October 22, 2018
After yesterday’s 2018 TCS Amsterdam Marathon, Dutch running website Hardloopnieuws.nl did a Q&A with agent Jos Heremens about Kenenisa Bekele after Bekele, arguably the greatest distance runner in history, ran with the leaders for 30k before ultimately dropping out in the final half mile. In the Q&A, which was reminiscent of an interview we did with Hermens last fall after Bekele DNFd the BMW Berlin Marathon (LRC Jos Hermens: Kenenisa Bekele Must Become More ‘Professional’ If He Is To Realize Marathon Potential), Hermens both expressed his enormous respect for Bekele’s talent but also his frustration with his marathon preparation.
If you speak Dutch, you can watch and listen to the interview below. If not, we’ve translated it for you. The translation was done by Ben Rainero de Haan, aka the Cornell alum who often races in the LetsRun.com singlet and once beat Cam Levins in a race.
Hn.tv: Jos Hermens, we saw you ride next to KB at the Amsterdam Marathon…it didn’t go as expected!
JH: That’s right, I was afraid it would happen like that. He didn’t have a good preparation, and the marathon starts at 30km…and just like that it slipped away.
HN: We’ve heard you say that before with KB, lots of talent…but preparation/training … not always ideal.
JH: Yeah he’s of course delivered amazing results, but the last 8 years it’s been full of ups and downs. Out of 10 marathons he’s maybe had 3 good marathons. He’s never really mastered the marathon. But it all comes down to preparation. He has just as much talent as Kipchoge, but while Kipchoge will prepare for six months before a marathon, Bekele only started 7 weeks ago. That just can’t work.
HN: Last year you had a talk with him, you said, if it keeps going like this you’re better off not running the marathon.
JH: Indeed…do you have any advice for me? *Laughs*
HN: But…aren’t you frustrated? How does that work, with a guy with as much talent as him…
JH: Yes, of course, it’s extremely frustrating, extremely frustrating…but there’s so many aspects of training that don’t work properly with him, from training, preparation, work…too much work! While Eliud lies in bed resting KB is going around in his car doing work…in all areas of his life it’s chaotic, and that’s what makes it so hard. You can fix a few things, but then something else crops up.
HN: And have you had new discussions with him? Or do you have to at some point say to him, hey, it’s been a good relationship but it’s now over?
JH: Yeah, but I’m also a top athlete and marathon runner, I don’t give up quickly, but I’m getting close. But I do have a plan. Not gonna do anything in Amsterdam but in a few weeks we’ll sit at a table and talk. I told him tomorrow starts the preparation for the Olympics. But he just doesn’t understand that. I think he has some kind of dyslexia, an inability to plan…it’s really hard with him. But he’s a good kid, I don’t want this to come across as so negative. I’ve of course had some amazing times with him, with all his world records. Yeah, so when do you stop? When do you tell him to stop…it’s like stepping in with a kid who’s misbehaving. But KB is 36 years old, he isn’t a child, and he has to take responsibility. But you know, from the other sides, as Global we work with many people, we’re a company of 70 employees, we work with many athletes, many of whom are running PRs, and you get from them a sort of energy…and you can help those who aren’t doing as well with that energy. But I admit that it keeps getting harder.
HN: Wouldn’t it be a real triumph for his career to win a medal again at the Olympics? In the marathon he still hasn’t been able to do that.
JH: Yes, and he says still that he wants that. But words aren’t enough of course.
HN: And there’s such a contrast with Eliud Kipchoge, who gives everything, who’s so committed, and gives everything to the sport…and the result, a phenomenal world record.
JH: Eliud, I’ve said already, is the first African I’ve worked with who thinks in a Western/European manner, in his planning and everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s sports drinks or his shoes, if he’s asked to evaluate something you get three pages back…even about a shoe! From KB you won’t hear anything. I hope that you understand my powerlessness, I love that kid [KB] and I love Eliud and they’re both amazing athletes. It’s just when you see someone slide away with an amazing talent…of course you see people slip away in sports, in art, in business…it’s usually those with just a little less talent, but with more drive, who make it to the top. This is the typical example with KB.
HN: In the past KB was untouchable, and EK had to do everything he could just to make the podium…
JH: Yes, it’s amazing to see how since 2002 EK has been working at it to reach this moment…we’re enjoying it as well..(repeats same stuff about new plan and how KB has to take responsibility)
Talk about this explosive interview on the world famous LetsRun.com messageboard/fan forum: MB: Jos Hermens holds nothing back regarding Bekele: “I think he has some kind of dyslexia, an inability to plan…”