While most racers from Sunday’s Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday sat in hot or cold baths, watching the highlights from the race and crying, two particular runners came and had a chat with us: Eliud Kipchoge and Tigist Tufa, the man and woman who won this year’s race.
The pair were introduced by Hugh Brasher, Race Director. When asked which emotion he feels most prominently the day after the marathon takes place, Hugh told us it was relief. “The team works 364 days of the year to get the race ready, there are no second chances“. He also described how in the 2015 ballot, 125,000 people applied to the race in 9 hours. Hugh says;
It’s a constant challenge to get more people in, but this year we saw the most ever starters and finishers. This year’s race saw 6 course records, with Tatyana McFadden beating her own record by 4 minutes. This all came together to form a fitting celebration of the London Marathon’s 35th year.
It was then Eliud Kipchoge and Tigist Tufa’s turn to take the stage, along with a translator for Tigist. The pair were surprise victors at the Virgin Money London Marathon with both – incredibly – having never run the course before. Before the race, odds had Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto most likely to win, but the pair had to settle for 2nd and 3rd when Kipchoge finished the race in 2:04:42 – 13 seconds shy of the course record. When asked if he was intimidated on the start line, Eliud told us;
My mind was clear, I had a good plan, I prepared for 4 months and I felt like the best prepared person on the line. I was around 80% sure I would win
However, when asked if he would be celebrating, Eliud told us that he is a low key person and would not be having any big celebrations. As for Tigist, she told us that despite running 26.2 miles in 2:23:21, she went for a run the next morning, despite having very little sleep. Tigist says she knew it was going to be hard with the records of the Kenyan and fellow Ethiopian records, but she adds;
I knew I would win. I came here to win.
When it comes to the prize money, Tigist – who lives at home with her family, including elder sister, long distance runner Mestawet Tufa – plans to help out her family before buying a car. Eliud, who runs a cattle farm in his native Kenya, said he will not be taking a holiday, saying that he isn’t a tourist just yet and that will come once he is finished racing.
The press conference ended with both runners saying they would love to be at the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon next year to defend their titles.