Kenya: Why Church Will Hold Special Mass for Kipchoge

World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge boards a private jet at Eldoret International Airport on October 7, 2019 on his way to Vienna, Austria for the “INEOS 1:59 Challenge”.
6 October 2019
opinion

The St Paul's University Chapel in Nairobi will Sunday hold a Special Intention Mass to pray for Eliud Kipchoge's sub-two hour quest. Eliud is a staunch Catholic and the St Paul's community has dedicated the service because "Eliud is a source of inspiration for the youth here and abroad."

St Paul's University Chapel is celebrating its golden jubilee and the Church's choir -- that will today wear special INEOS 1:59 T-shirts -- has put together special songs for the Kenyan legend.

The readings will include Philippians 4:13 that says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Kipchoge continues to inspire widely. Last year, Eliud became a diplomat of sorts after he was given the prestigious United Nations Kenya Person of the Year Award. In a move that turned on its head the adage that a prophet is not honoured in his home town, a beaming Kipchoge stood at the podium at the United Nations Office in Gigiri using the same lectern that has been used by presidents and top UN bosses including the late Kofi Anan, Ban Ki-Moon and Antonio Guterres.

The award that was presented by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma recognised the legendary athlete's extraordinary performances on the track, his work on HIV/Aids in Kenya and his endurance and courage. On her part Juma extolled Kipchoge's athletic heroism and determination to advance the spirit of sports.

In essence, Kipchoge is now a diplomat, which is befitting.

TALISMAN

By sheer determination and focus, Kipchoge has entered his name in the annals of history and as my generation and a generation before had the name of Kipchoge Keino on their lips as a great runner, my generation and probably the next one will have Kipchoge as their talisman.

I can easily predict that we will hear a lot more of the man in the coming years because he looks like he still has a lot of potential packed in his legs.

And this week he stands on the cusp of yet another historic achievement -- the attempt to be the first man ever to run the marathon in under two hours is not a hubris inspired wild run as it were but a conviction that human beings need to push themselves to the full limit.

It is heartening that apart from his usual Kenyan supporters who are in love with the "Lofty Eliud," his 'INEOS 1:59 Challenge" next Saturday in Vienna, other elite athletes across the globe are also hedging their bets on Eliud.

Former Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira "absolutely believes that Eliud can do it because he is fully focused and he has the right support to make it happen."

HUMBLE

He joins Kenyan-born British Tour de France champion Chris Froome and many others rooting for Eliud. I guess one characteristic that makes Eliud likeable and have so many fans is his easy and laid back manner.

He looks like a man who has a nary trace of malice in his bones and those who have interacted with him talk of a humble man who is not awed by the many accolades he has gathered across the globe.

Although this is not a competition where Eliud is set to bring back a medal, I am sure I am speaking for thousands of Kenyans when I say that this race is not only for the runner but it is our very own green, black, red and white flag which is at stake here.

Eliud is doing this for all Kenyans -- from Mandera and Turkana to the north to Vanga in the south and from Liboi to the east to Lwakhakha to the west. Hopefully I will be among the crowd at Toby's Tavern in Eldoret for a special viewing package.

All the best Eliud!

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