Eliud Kipchoge Says Upper Leg Issue Bothered Him at 2023 Boston Marathon; Vows to Return & Win

BOSTON — One day after suffering his first marathon defeat since October 2020, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge met with media on Tuesday morning to discuss his 6th-place finish at the 2023 Boston Marathon. Kipchoge said he developed a left leg issue approaching 30 kilometers — which is where Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay made the move that dropped Kipchoge from the lead pack midway through the Newton Hills.

“My left leg was actually was not coming up anymore,” Kipchoge said. “I think that’s where the problem is. I tried to do the necessary [pace] but it was not working so I put my mind just to run a comfortable pace just to finish.”

Kipchoge did not offer many details on the injury but did not think the rainy 50-degree temperatures caused his muscles to tighten up.

“I don’t think it’s the weather,” Kipchoge said. “Maybe there was an underlying problem, but it’s just a problem of the leg. What can I say? I’m not a doctor.”

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Kipchoge ran the first five kilometers, which drop more than 200 feet, in an incredibly quick 14:17. Many a Boston Marathoner — especially those unprepared for the pounding of its early downhills — will struggle with pain in their quads as they climb the Newton Hills during the second half. Kipchoge appeared to deal with a similar issue — he said his problem was in his upper left leg, specifically — but did not think the hot early pace on the downhills contributed to it.

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“Not at all,” Kipchoge said.

Kipchoge was asked whether Boston’s course — which is far hillier than the other 17 marathons he has raced — challenged him.

“There is no challenge,” Kipchoge said. “My training actually is all-around. It can accommodate hill, up and down, or flat. So no challenge at all.”

Kipchoge, who led almost every step of the first half of the race into a 6 mph headwind, also pushed back on the idea that he would have been better served tucking into the pack. He ran Boston as he runs all of his marathons: from the front. Unlike most of those races, however, there were no pacemakers blocking the wind during the first half in Boston.

“What do you think when you see me at the front and everybody else at the back?” Kipchoge said. “I think it’s common sense. And you guys, you need to answer it. This is sport, and you need to push. Sport is pushing yourself and actually enjoying it.”

Asked for a lesson from yesterday’s race, Kipchoge channeled one of his favorite singers, Kelly Clarkson.

“What doesn’t kill you make you stronger,” Kipchoge said.

The 38-year-old double Olympic champion said he does not want to dwell on yesterday’s result and prefers to look ahead at his next challenge. As is customary with Kipchoge, he explained it with a metaphor.

“There is three things,” Kipchoge said. “Yesterday actually is a cancelled check. Today is cash. And tomorrow is a promissory note. Let us forget about the cancelled checks. Let us talk of the cash and the promissory notes.”


What’s next?

Kipchoge said he does not know what race he will run next. His immediate aim is to recover from Boston, mentally and physically, before mapping out a plan. But when asked specifically about whether he would run the New York City Marathon this fall — the one World Marathon Major apart from Boston he has never won, which, like Boston, features a undulating, technical course — Kipchoge admitted his defeat in Boston had thrown a wrench in his plans.

“I don’t know yet,” Kipchoge said. “The outcome for yesterday actually destabilized everything, and I need to go back, rearrange again, and come back with a solid program.”

He did say he plans to return to Boston and run the marathon again.

“Absolutely yes, and to win the Boston Marathon,” Kipchoge said.

Toward the end of the media availability on Tuesday, Kipchoge was asked why he didn’t want to speak with the media on Monday following the race. Kipchoge disputed that account. (Whether it was Kipchoge or a member of his team that made the decision, the fact is that the B.A.A. tried to get Kipchoge to speak with the media on Monday and he did not).

“I did not actually refuse to talk to the media,” said a testy Kipchoge to the journalist, in a noticeable departure from his typical calm demeanor. “Did you talk to me? Then who are those media? Who are those media, please? Then they are lying.”

Kipchoge went above and beyond in his media duties on Tuesday. Eight minutes into his availability, the B.A.A.’s Lorna Campbell told the media this would be Kipchoge’s last question, but Kipchoge said he had more time.

“You can ask a lot of questions,” Kipchoge said. “I give you 10 more minutes”

He finished the interview by pointing at media members one-by-one, ensuring everyone got a chance to ask a question before the session finished.

Full Eliud Kipchoge post-Boston Marathon interview

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