Kenenisa Bekele wasn't Kenenisa Bekele when he started out in the sport of running. But as his victories mounted, as he piled up championships and world records, it became clear: this was a guy we were going to be talking about for a long, long time.
But Bekele was a god. How could anyone, even someone as great as Cheptegei, dethrone Kenenisa Bekele?
Well, it turns out, in exactly the same way Bekele dethroned Haile Gebrselassie as world record holder. The same way Gebrselassie dethroned Said Aouita. The same way Vladimir Kuts dethroned Emil Zatopek and the same way Lauri Lehtinen dethroned Paavo Nurmi. You don't own a world record; you lease it until the next athlete with the right combination of talent, timing, and technology comes along and breaks it.
Looking back, the signs were there. Just like Bekele in 2004, Cheptegei entered 2020 as the world champion in cross country and at 10,000 meters. Just like Bekele, he ran an absurdly fast 5k in February (Bekele clocked an indoor WR of 12:49; Cheptegei a road WR of 12:51). And now, just like Bekele, Cheptegei is a world record holder at 5,000 meters, his 12:35.36 in Monaco erasing Bekele's 16-year-old 12:37.35 from the books.
No one can say how long Cheptegei's reign atop the 5,000m ranks will last -- as he just proved, it can be hard to recognize the new king even if he's standing right in front of you. But there is no doubting Joshua Cheptegei now.
After his WR, LRC's Robert Johnson and Jonathan Gault recorded a 45-minute video interview this week with Cheptegei and his manager Jurrie van der Velden. The video is only available to LRC Supporters Club members, which you can join here starting at $1 for your first month.
At the 1995 Weltklasse Zürich meet, Moses Kiptanui became the first man under 8:00 in the steeplechase and Haile Gebrselassie took over 10 seconds off the 5,000m world record. It was the Golden Age of one of Europe's finest meets. A quarter century later, those who were there reflect on the famous night.
"Summer miles lead to fall smiles." It's a cliche because it's true. The summer is a critical opportunity to put in the work that leads to breakout results in the fall, winter, and spring racing seasons.
Now with the help of LetsRun.com, high school and college runners can make their dreams become reality. LetsRun's Robert Johnson (2:23 marathon pb, 13 Ivy League team titles as Cornell distance coach), Weldon Johnson (28:06 10k pb, two-time Team USA member), and coaching guru John Kellogg are sharing their knowledge with the LetsRun.com Summer Training Program. You'll get a customized 10-12 week training plan, helpful running tips, and exclusive discounts on shoes and gear. Click below to learn more.