Interview with Thomas Kiprotich

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HONG KONG, 02 January 2009 (marathon.HK). This man has won every Hong Kong race he participated in: Since Kenyan Thomas Kiprotich's arrival in August,  races like HKMP Half Marathon, UNICEF Disneyland Half Marathon, Hong Kong 15 km Challenge, Kappa Shek Kong 10k - to name just a few - have seen him leading from start to finish. Many of our readers wonder where he comes from and what he will do next. marathon.HK met the friendly runner shortly before the Mizuno Hong Kong Half Marathon Championships in Central to ask him the "8 + 8 questions"...

Thomas Kiprotich in Hong Kong

Numbers, please..

Date & Place of Birth: 1 December 1987 in Eldoret, Kenya

Weight: 55 kg

Height: 180 cm

Shoe Size: UK9

Resting Heart Rate: 48

PB Full Marathon: 2:21:55 in Portugal in 2006

PB Half Marathon: 64 min in Malaysia in 2008
PB 10 k: 29:44 in Malaysia in 2008

Coach: In Hong Kong itís Yuho Chung of Ascent Sports Association.

Warm up - 8 General questions:

The best thing to do after running? After racing and hard training, the best thing to do is sleep and take a rest!

The next best thing to running? Spending time with my girlfriend. Watching movies.

Whom would you always have liked to meet over lunch? Jackie Chan or Jet Li.

With whom would you like to swap for one day? Kenenisa Bekele of Ethopia.

What drives you mad? Races in Asia that don't allow foreigners to enter. It happens a lot in Malaysia. Racing and running should be for everybody.

Where would you wish yourself on a day when everything goes wrong? In Africa with my family.

Your concept of happiness? Being with my girlfriend and running makes me happy.

Imagine you arrive late at a major HK competition just to realize that you have not packed your running shoes. What would you do? All I own is running shoes so all I would ever be wearing on my feet is my running or training shoes so if I didnít have my racing shoes I would use whatever was on my feet!

Endurance Test - 8 in-depth questions:

Happy New Year, Thomas. You are presently living in Hong Kong. Since your arrival, a number of course records tumbled. Öand you have won the hearts of HK runners with your humble attitude and fairness. What are your next plans in this city? I would like to move permanently to Hong Kong as my girlfriend lives here. I would love to work with local athletes and young up and coming runners, so I am in the process of looking for the opportunity to get a work visa with a Hong Kong running or sporting organization. I hope this will happen soon so I can remain in Hong Kong. I have seen many young runners here who have a lot of potential and I think I can contribute a lot to help them make the most of the talent.


Nerida Ashton and Thomas Kiprotich in Hong Kong


Before coming to Hong Kong, Thomas competed in various races in Brunei, the Philippines and Malaysia. The Kenyan spent the Christmas day running 30k in the morning and then relaxing with his girlfriend, an active Hong Kong runner, whom he met at one race in Malaysia.

How does a normal training week here in HK look like, around this time of the year? Each week has many varied types of runs. I train each day, sometimes twice. I do a long run that includes hills (not too steep), I also go to track for speed work but also do other speed work around where I live. When I train twice I run hard in the morning and very easy at night. To what weekly mileage does this add up? I am not targeting a specific mileage per week. Depending on the race I am preparing for, it might be around 120-135 km per week (including the race). Can you explain your recipe for speed work? There are two kinds: If I train on the track of Tsing Yi sports ground, would normally run 10 - 15 times 800 or 1000 m at a speed of 3:00 min per km. The second kind is Fartlek training, which I would do on the road: interchanging 1 min intervals of full speed run and 1 min intervals of slower, but not really slow runs. Guys like you would still have the impression, I am running at full speed, but it is actually 60-70%. Thank you.

How do you like HK for living and as a training place? I really like living in Hong Kong. The people I have met, especially at races have been extremely friendly. I have tried to enter as many races as possible since I have been in Hong Kong and have had great support from race organizers such as Mr Li from HKMP. I find it a very good place for training, especially at this time of year with the cool weather. There is a great mix of places to train Ė hills, flat road etc. I am living in Discovery Bay so the air pollution is not so bad.

Where can we see you running next? I am coming to the end of my current tourist visa so while I am looking for a work visa so I can move here I will be racing in Khonkaen [Half] Marathon in Thailand on January 25, as well as a few other races in February in Malaysia. I plan to return to Hong Kong for the Standard Chartered Half Marathon. Before heading to Thailand I will be competing in the Mizuno Half on January 4th and the Diabetes 10 km on January 11th.

Will you compete in full marathons? I want to compete in full marathons in the future, possible next year but right now I am focusing on my speed work and racing 10km and half marathons.

Kenya has produced numerous world class runners. There is, just for example, another Kiprotich who won Silver over 800 m at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. How did you come to running? Where did you train back home and who was your first mentor? My Uncle is a runner in Kenya and heís competed in races overseas. When he traveled to Spain in 1999 for races, I thought that if he can travel abroad for running and compete with people who are not Kenyans, then I could too. So when he returned I began training with him. When I am in Kenya I train in camp. In camp we have 8 athletes and we used to team up with other groups to train. Other times I train at home closer to my family.

Thomas Kiprotich in Hong Kong  

At the age of 11, Thomas was determined to become an international runner. Today, he calls Hong Kong and Asia his second home. If you want to get in touch with him personally, sign up at happy2run, a forum for runners in China, where he posts regularly.


Talking about Kenyan world class in China. Only in 2008 managed the first Kenyan to win an Olympic Marathon race. By that time, Ethiopia had secured four (1960, 1964, 1968 and 2000) and even East Germany two Olympic titles. The world record is (since September 2007) in Ethiopian hands. Has Samuel Kamau Wanjiru, with his Gold medal in Beijing, heralded a new age of Kenyan leadership in the ultimate long distance running discipline? Kenya has many good long distance runners but before we didnít really compete for titles like the Olympics, but since Wanjiru won the Olympic Marathon and we are now competing with our rivals, especially the Ethiopian runners and we have decided itís now Do or Die!

Kenyan world champion Luke Kibet lost his mentor Lukas Sang and suffered a head injury himself when famously attending to a victim of gang violence after the presidential elections nearly on the day one year ago. How did you experience that time and what do you think of the chances that Kenya can return to be a role-model for other African countries in terms of tolerance and national unity across ethnic groups? Actually I was not in Kenya in that time, I was in Malaysia. Everything was very bad, my fellow athletes didnít have time to train, they were busy looking for their families. We hope it doesnít happen again. Right now it is very good in Kenya, people have now started coming together to build back that relationship.

Thomas, thank you for your time. We wish you good luck in 2009 and success on Sunday and with all your other races!

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