While the world was rightly captivated by the amazing world record breaking run of Eliud Kipchoge on Sunday, it was Josphat Boit who had the best seat in the house being by the great Kenyans side for 25km in Berlin.
Josphat Boit is the 34 year old little known Kenyan runner credited with helping Kipchoge create history in Berlin. By running standards Boit is a quality elite middle – long distance runner, he has a marathon personal best of 2:12:52 set in Boston 2012 and a half marathon best of 61:33.
Earlier this year he ran the Kenyan Commonwealth Games trials in the 5000m missing selection by finishing 7th in a credible 13:38. Since then he has gained citizenship to the United States and will now run for the USA. As a Kenyan athlete he is one of hundreds of good runners, as a US athlete he will be an Olympic hopeful.
Boit was chosen by Eliud Kipchoge to assist in pacemaking for the Kenyan’s world record attempt in Berlin, however may not have known what he was about to be part of. As marathon pacing jobs go, not everything always goes to plan. Kipchoge started Berlin with three pacemakers guiding him through the opening 10km in world record pace before losing one, and then another at 15km as Kipchoge sensed the pace had dropped and asked for more.
From 15km, Boit was the only man left by Kipchoge’s side and at this stage slightly behind their halfway target time of 61:00. Kilometres 16 through 21 were the fastest of the first half of the race with Boit rallying to run Kipchoge to halfway in 61:05. In doing so taking 28 seconds off his own half marathon personal best set in the 2014 World Half Marathon championships in Copenhagen.
This clearly took it’s toll on Boit as the next four kilometres were all slower, but only by seconds. Such is the accuracy of Kipchoge’s pacing that every kilometre and every second matter and Kipchoge then increased his speed leaving Boit behind and ran the last 17km alone smashing the world record by 78 seconds.
By Josphat Boit’s standards his 25km was personally a brilliant run, which even more highlights how good Kipchoge was in Berlin. A high quality runner in his own right needed to run a career defining half marathon performance just to keep pace with Kipchoge. I would argue that the moment, and the world record chase drove Boit to be able to give more than he ever has before and the greater cause of running for Kipchoge helped him achieve his own best.
While Josphat Boit will never reach the level of Eliud Kipchoge, he played a large role in this world record. Before the race Kipchoge and his three pacers could be seen huddled together in prayer, preparing as a team for the 42.2km that would await them and Kipchoge’s amazing run into history. For Boit to be able to produce a career best half marathon performance and then hang on for another 4km to support Kipchoge shows the esteem Kipchoge is held and just how much this world record attempt meant to all inside the Kipchoge team.
Marathon running is a highly individual sport, some of the beauty of running is the solitude it allows. Rarely do we get to see or credit a team atmosphere like what happened on Sunday.
Helping Kipchoge achieve marathon immortality required Boit to shine brighter as a runner than he ever has before. The Berlin marathon 2018 certainly brought the best out of Eliud Kipchoge and we will remember this run forever. Josphat Boit certainly played his part and although he will be a footnote in history he will remember this day forever.