We still heart Eliud Kipchoge
Last fall, we wrote about our admiration not only for Eliud Kipchoge’s running accomplishments (“Kipchoge broke the official marathon world record last weekend, finishing the Berlin marathon in 2:01:39, a full 78 seconds faster than the existing record. To make sure we’re giving this enough kudos, THAT IS AN AVERAGE PACE OF 4:38.4 PER MILE”), but also for his discipline focused mindset (“Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions.”)
This week, we were pleased to hear the news that Kipchoge broke the 2-hour marathon barrier, covering 26.2 miles in 1 hour 59 minutes and 40 seconds, breaking what has been dubbed the “last barrier of modern athletics.” Interestingly, the race, which was held in Vienna due to optimal elevation and temperature, will not make it to the official record books because it was not run “under marathon conditions” and professional pacesetters were used. On that note, the sheer amount of planning that went into making sure the race was held under perfect conditions cannot be understated as explained by The New York Times:
“What materialized on Saturday was perhaps the most finely tuned, carefully orchestrated marathon-length run in history…. he ran around a 9.6-kilometer flat circuit, more than 90 percent of which unfurled in a straight line. Portions of the road were painted with lines to highlight the fastest possible path. Kipchoge — who wore a white singlet, white sneakers (Nikes, as of yet unreleased to the public, built around a carbon-fiber plate) and white sleeves on his arms — had immense support. He ran behind an electric timing car driving 4:34 per mile (with a second car on standby) and with his flock of rotating pacesetters (35 on the course, six on reserve) who happened to include some of the best distance runners in the world, including former world and Olympic gold medalists like Bernard Lagat and Matthew Centrowitz. Those pacemakers, wearing black jerseys and stern expressions, formed a protective, aerodynamic pocket around Kipchoge, five of them running in front in an open-V formation and two more in the back. They knew exactly where to run thanks to a pattern of thick, green laser beams projected onto the street by the timing car. At predetermined times, the seven pacemakers would make way for another group of seven to slide in and take over. A team member on a bicycle periodically pedaled into the pack to deliver Kipchoge a carbohydrate-heavy cocktail of gels and fluids.”
Of course, while Kipchoge’s accomplishment is tremendous, at Chenmark we know that life in small companies almost never has “perfect conditions”. Limited resources, in the form of capital, talent, equipment, or time mean that our team of small businesses is often fighting headwinds when trying to Chase Better. That said, we believe there are aspects of Kipchoge’s perfect race that we can emulate. Knowing where to go and having a team around to support your goals and let you know if you are on or off track are critical aspects of the infrastructure we are building throughout our organization, and we hope that our collective efforts in this area will make the race for each of our companies that much smoother. We just hope to be able to do it without stern expressions the entire time.