Kenya: Why Alfred Barkach Doesn't Live On Bread Alone

24 September 2020

Africa cross country champion Alfred Barkach opened the season with a half marathon in Prague two weeks ago where he was testing waters ahead of his major assignment in London next month.

He will be pacing London Marathon elites and he's happy that he has rectified what went wrong when he competed in Czech capital.

Barkach was among the few athletes invited by RunCzech and Adidas in Prague for the 21-kilometre race that doubled-up as the launch pad for the new Adidas Adizero Adios racing shoe.

He sees his pace making role for the second group in London as a huge honour.

"The initial plan for the first group in London is to be at the halfway point in 60:45 - 61:00, led by top class Kenyan pacers Noah Kipkemboi, Victor Chumo, Eric Kiptanui," defending London champion and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge posted the race plans earlier this week.

"The second group is set for 62:00 (2:04) led by pacer Alfred Barkach. The third group's halfway mark is 64:15 - 64:30.

"The fourth group is going for Olympic qualification standards (2:11:00 - 2:11:30) led by Sir Mo Farah (65:15 - 65:30), Shadrack Kimining (Kenya) and Matt Clowes (Great Britain)," Kipchoge explains.

"I'm happy that I will join the other pacemakers to lead the best athletes in the world and I have done good preparations. I know the pace will be fast but I'm up to the task ahead," says Barkach.

The soft-spoken athlete said that he has been meeting and training with Kipchoge in the Kaptagat forest trails.

"Kipchoge is a good athlete and we have been training together at Kaptagat Forest.

"He always encourages me to continue working hard and having seen him preparing, I know he will defend his title next month in London Marathon."

The course has a flat surface on a sea level (actually one lap has less than two meters' elevation gain) with 19 clockwise laps of a 2.15 kilometres loop around the park plus an extra 1,345 metres, with a traditional finish on The Mall.

The course will be sealed off from the public to maintain the integrity of the "biosecure bubble."

Access to most of St James's Park will be maintained for local residents and park users but the course will not be visible from inside the park.

NTV Kenya and Uganda have secured the free-to-air exclusive rights for the 40th edition of the London Marathon.

Barkach had been selected to represent Kenya in the postponed Africa Cross Country Championships in April and he still believes he can leave a mark when he lines up for the race next year.

Nation Sport caught up with him at his training base in Kaptagat, Elgeyo Marakwet County, where he said the coronavirus disrupted his plans. "I had prepared well for the Africa Cross Country Championships where I wanted to retain my title. I was in a good shape but I had to scale down my training just to keep fit," said Barkach.

Regarding the Prague race, Barkach said since he was running with new shoes, he had difficulty but he is now used to them and will be looking forward to a good race in London.

"I had difficulty using the new shoes and it affected my performance in the race but I'm happy because I'm now okay and I love the shoes. I have also rectified the mistakes I made during the race and I'm ready for the assignment ahead," he explained.

In Prague, he emerged 10th position after clocking 1:01:32 a race won by Kibiwott Kandie who clocked 58:38 ahead of Philemon Kimaiyo who timed 59:56 while Benson Kipruto was in third place after running in 1:00:06.

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