Eldoret erupts with joy as Eliud Kipchoge makes history
There was joy in Eldoret town as Eliud Kipchoge hit the tape in 01:59:40 during the INEOS 1:59 Challenge at Prater Park in Vienna, Austria, on Saturday.
As Kipchoge raised his hands in Vienna to became the first man to run the marathon under two hours, thousands of people followed suit in Eldoret town and broke into songs of victory.
In scenes similar to those only seen in shows graced by popular pop stars, the junction between Oginga Odinga Street and Iten Roads in Eldoret would remain entrenched in the minds of the thousands who stood for the two hours to watch Kipchoge write history.
The whole town appeared to go into a temporary standstill before an eruption tore through the town known for its famous athletes. With inches to the historical 1:59.40 mark, the crowd became hysterical.
The crowd screamed Kipchoge! Kipchoge as his smile beamed on huge screens after achieving his dream.
Thousands of people started gathering in the town as early as 5am to watch the INEOS 1:59 challenge in Vienna, Austria.
Uasin-Gishu County spokesman Silah Tarus said it was one of the biggest crowds he had ever seen converge in the town. He said the county had mounted the screens to enable as many people in the town watch the INEOS 1:59 challenge.
“We had expected a big turnout but this one was huge. It was great to see people turn out to be part of this historical moment,” said Mr Tarus.
Traffic was diverted to allow the fans follow the race which was screened live with many praising the athlete for his achievement.
“He has made history and indeed he is the greatest marathoner of all times. He has proved that no human is limited,” said Nicholas Kirui.
Another fan Dominic Ng’etich said he came to town to watch the greatest athlete because he knew he was going to perform well and achieve his dream.
“I came here early enough just to cheer Kipchoge who is my best athlete, I’m so excited,” said Ng’etich.
Hezron Gichuki a taxi operator said that his business since early morning was affected but he doesn’t regret because the whole world was watching Kipchoge.
“I was not able to get any customer but people were gathering to view Kipchoge,” said Gichuki.
Josphat Omondi a student in Eldoret joined other athletics fans to cheer the greatest runner.
Mr John Ndegwa who owns a clothes stall at Paradise area said that he watched the race at his shop.
“I’m happy I was part of the history having seen him run under two hours. Kipchoge is a humble man and I’m sure he has a lot to achieve,” said Ndegwa.
At his home Kapsisiywa village in Nandi County, there was night vigil ahead of the big challenge. Locals stayed up till around 11pm praying and also preparing how to cheer their own son at Kapsisiywa Primary School.
His mother Janet Rotich said that she was elated and thanked God for enabling her son achieve his dream.
“I’m so excited with his achievement because he has been preparing for a while and today he has done it. I thank God for taking good care of him during the race,” she said.
According to the Nandi County Sports CEC Elly Kurgat, they had to mount a large screen at Kapsisiywa Primary School where Kipchoge studied because it means a lot for the county and the locals who wanted to see him in action.
“Kipchoge is a great athlete and we had to organise for viewership at his home and we are happy that all went well. We want to congratulate him for the job well done,” said Kurgat.
Talai elders conducted traditional prayers to bless the school grounds before the viewing started.
Catholic Priests from the area Fr Ken Kipchumba and Fr Ben Oroyo led prayers before the official start of the race with excitement renting the air.
Everyone entering the venue had to be blessed at the main gate by being adored with the traditional Kalenjin twig sinendet.