Monday, April 14, 2008

Timothy Cherigat: “It’s all about having a strong mind”

Like almost all Kenyan runners, Timothy Cherigat was in Kenya when the post-election violence started in late December and early January. Between training sessions recently, the 2004 Boston Marathon champion talked about his preparations for Monday’s race in light of recent developments at home.

Timothy CherigatWhere were you when the violence started?
I was already at the training camp in Iten. This was good because travel was very, very dangerous.

Were other KIMbia runners affected by the dangerous travel conditions?
Yes, there were guys who could not make it to Iten because the roads were closed. They could not travel safely. Stephen Kiogora could not come to Iten to train with us because he is from another tribe. He is not Kalenjin and it would have been dangerous for him to travel to Iten.

How was your training affected?
At times we could not train at all because we didn’t know what would happen next. We had to pay attention to what the politicians were saying to see what might happen next. We were lucky because nothing really bad happened to us, but you did not know what might happen from day to day, and this is what really affected the training. At first, for the first few days, we could not train at all. It was just too dangerous. Some days we could train only once, very early in the morning. This uncertainty went on for most of January.

Usually, manager Tom Ratcliffe and coach Dieter Hogen come over to Kenya during your winter training. This year, they couldn’t.
Yes, every year before, they come and help with our training. They support us morally and they solve any problems we have. That was not the case this time. It was much harder. We heard from coach Dieter daily. Most of the time he was calling. When he could not call, he would text us.

Could you eat your normal training diet?
Most of the stores in Iten were closed during the worst time, for most of January. We ate what we could find. Some days it was safe to travel, but then when demonstrations were called for, roadblocks would be set up. Then it was not safe to travel to search for food.

Given all that, how do you feel about your fitness for Boston?
The training has been pretty good since all the violence stopped. There were really those three weeks in January when the training was really affected. For the marathon, it’s all about having a strong mind and believing in yourself.

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