How west athlete played his part in Kipchoge sub-two marathon drama

IT is always good to find a local angle on a national story and occasionally even international links pop up.

But world record attempts?

Well, okay I’m spinning the line just a little here as the marathon 1:59 project wasn’t strictly a world record but was an awesome landmark in the sport.

And the west connection? Sadly nothing in the execution on the day in Vienna but with Eliud Kipchoge having been successful in his quest to become the first man to run the marathon under two hours it has been revealed that Clevedon-born and bred former international 1500m runner and ex-Westbury Harrier James Thie played a part in the preparation.

Thie (fourth from the left in the photo above) has been based in Cardiff for some years now and is a highly successful coach so he was approached by the organisers of the project to help with their research into the best ways for Kipchoge to tackle his immense challenge.

One of his athletes is Team Bath’s Craig Bridges (pictured right) and he explained what Thie’s group were asked to do in the months leading up the historic event in Austria last weekend.

“I was lucky enough to have a small part in this by being a volunteer at a test day in Wales,” said Bridges.

“A group of us ran a series of 400m straights at sub two-hour marathon pace (4.34 mile pace or 13.1mph) in formation to help try out two new formations and change overs for the pacing team that led Eliud.

“In the end, they used the second formation we tried, which was technically the most efficient. We had a great day but weren’t allowed to say anything about it until after the event because we were among the first in the world to see the pacing formations – even before Eliud!

“The INEOS performance team filmed us using drones, head cams and a static camera. Plus some of us wore heart rate monitors and ear pieces!

“It may have only been a very small role, but it was an honour to be part of history in some way.”

Now that is a story that Bridges, Thie and all concerned will be able to tell long after they hang up their training shoes.