Boston Marathon

Eliud Kipchoge shed some light on what happened in his Boston Marathon debut

The world record holder said that he developed an issue with his upper left leg midway through the race.

Eliud Kipchoge Boston 2023
Eliud Kipchoge speaks to the media a day after his Boston Marathon debut. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

More than a day after he finished sixth in his first Boston Marathon, Eliud Kipchoge sat down to answer a few questions.

Kipchoge, the 38-year-old marathon world record holder, had only lost two of his 17 career marathons prior to Monday. So it was surprising to see him struggle to answer the acceleration of Gabriel Geay during Mile 18 of the race. He then fell to the back of the pack and was subsequently dropped by the race leaders by Mile 21.

Kipchoge acknowledged that he had an issue with his upper left leg that began during Mile 18.

“That’s where the problem is,” Kipchoge told reporters on Wednesday. “I tried to do what was necessary, but it was not working.”


“I’m not a doctor,” he later joked when asked for more specifics.

Having encountered the issue mid-race, he said that he simply “put my mind just to run in a comfortable pace to finish.”

Asked if he considered dropping out once he experienced an issue with his leg, Kipchoge admitted that “a lot of talking was going on in my mind.”

“But I said, ‘Hey, I can’t quit.’ They say it’s important to win, but it’s great to participate and finish.”

Given that he started confidently — leading the pack of elite runners for nearly all of the opening 17 miles — Kipchoge responded to a question about whether he had been tactically too aggressive in the early part of the race.

“This is sport, and you need to push,” he replied.

As for what’s next on his agenda, the Kenyan acknowledged that he will take some time to think things over. His main focus in the short term is to “recover, both mentally and physically.”

Despite the differences between Boston’s course — with its continuous elevation changes — and others that he’s run, which have generally been much more flat, Kipchoge also downplayed its effect on how he ran.


“It’s not a challenge,” he said of Boston’s hilly route. “My training’s actually all-round.”

Though his debut in Boston didn’t go to plan, he said he would “absolutely” consider returning to run again. However, this will likely not be in 2024 since Kipchoge will probably aim to run in the Paris Olympics, which will take place too close to Boston’s April schedule for him to be at his fitness peak. He is the two-time defending Olympic gold medalist.

Kipchoge also released a statement following the race on Monday in which he congratulated eventual winner (and fellow Kenyan) Evans Chebet.

“I live for the moments where I get to challenge the limits. It’s never guaranteed, it’s never easy,” Kipchoge said. “Today was a tough day for me. I pushed myself as hard as I could but sometimes, we must accept that today wasn’t the day to push the barrier to a greater height.

“I want to congratulate my competitors and thank everyone in Boston and from home for the incredible support I am so humbled to receive,” he added. “In sports you win and you lose and there is always tomorrow to set a new challenge. Excited for what’s ahead.”


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