Why Cheptegei is targeting Monaco for 5000m World Record

Image copyright: Getty Images

Joshua Cheptegei raised a few eyebrows with his proclamation that he is targeting Kenenisa Bekele’s 16-year 5,000 metres track world record when he runs at the Monaco Diamond League (DL) Meeting on Friday evening.
This is despite Cheptegei’s personal best of 12:57.41 on the track being over 20 seconds behind the 12:37.45 set by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele on May 31, 2004 in Hengelo, Netherlands.
Cheptegei’s mark is also outside the top 200 times in history (he’s the 73rd-fastest performer) over the distance.
So we look at some of the reasons why the 23-year old who boasts world Cross-country gold, 5000m DL trophy and the 10000m title and rewrote World Records in the 5km at the Monaco Herculis Run on February 16 and 10km race at the Valencia Alfonso 10K in Spain, is in such confident mood.

Unique situation

The start of the Covid-19 pandemic found Cheptegei in Kapchorwa and with the international athletics calendar put on hold, he has had ample time to work with his coach Addy Ruiter, who happened to be in the country at the time.
“I’m not sure if we will ever be in a situation that a coach is able to be with Joshua for six months and working toward this goal for such a long time,” his manager Jurrie van der Velden told the LetsRun.com website in an interview.
“All of his sessions have been better than before…He’s sleeping more, he’s relaxing more…These guys are normally a little bit more on the road.”
“They are not all Eliud Kipchoges who are pretty much 24-7 in a training camp relaxing…[With COVID-19], everybody had to stay at home, and everybody had to respect those rules, and it made them rest more, concentrate more on running rather than other things,” Jurrie added.

Joshua Cheptegei
Image copyright: Getty Images

Fitter now

Van der Velden also reckons Cheptegei who ran a time of 12:51on the road in Monaco in February without a pace setter, is consequently fitter than he was last year when he won World Cross-country title, the 5000m Diamond League trophy, 10000m 

World gold and the 10km world record (WR)

“He’s in the best shape ever. We know the 5k world record will be very tough for him, because he’s more endurance-based than speed-based, but he made such a progression in the last two years in speed work that we say, yeah, this is the time,” Jurrie added.

Nothing else to look forward to

Going by his earlier preparations, Cheptegei had also planned to peak around early August when he would have taken part in in the now postponed Tokyo Olympics.
Also rather than focusing on the Olympics, Cheptegei now has time to focus on the world record with no olympics in sight at least for another 12 months.
“I believe if there is a time to attack the world record, it is this year,” Cheptegei is also quoted having said in an article for the NN Running Team website. “It is now or never.”

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Published: 08/14/2020