INEOS to push Eliud Kipchoge towards third Olympic title

Eliud Kipchoge isn’t limited. He believes no human should be. And global chemical, fuels and plastics company INEOS agrees.

After becoming the first man to run the marathon in under two hours, and then joining Ethiopian Abebe Bikila and German Waldemar Cierpinski as the only men to have won two back-to-back Olympic marathon gold medals, Kipchoge, 37, is raising the bar again.

On Wednesday, INEOS – who bankrolled Kipchoge’s 2019 sub two-hour run in Vienna dubbed “INEOS 1:59 Challenge” – announced a long-term performance partnership with the Kenyan legend and his NN Running Team with a view to, inter alia, making Kipchoge the first man to win three back-to-back Olympic marathon titles at the 2024 Paris Games.

In a virtual press conference also addressed by INEOS’s newly-appointed Director of Sport Sir Dave Brailsford along with NN Running Team’s Performance Director Valentijn Trouw and Marketing Director, Marleen Vink-Rennings, Kipchoge also announced that he would feature in a spring marathon this April whose details would be known in “two to three weeks” after which he will decide on his programme for the second half of the year.

NN Running Team’s Eliud Kipchoge during an INEOS photo shoot with their new INEOS-branded apparel./NN Running Team |

INEOS are aggregating their sports muscle to deliver cross-cutting benefits across their portfolio that boasts cycling team INEOS Grenadiers (formerly Team Sky), football sides OGC Nice (France), FC Lausanne-Sport (Switzerland), INEOS Brittania sailing outfit and the championship-winning Mercedes AMG Formula One team.

INEOS also have a performance partnership with New Zealand’s rugby team, the “All Blacks”, with Brailsford charged, in his new role, with overseeing the company’s operations across these teams.

As part of the partnership announced Wednesday, Kipchoge will compete in INEOS branded apparel.

At the 2024 Paris Olympics, Kipchoge will be 39, kissing his 40th birthday.

“Having made history in Vienna, I’m confident that INEOS will help us achieve our goals,” Kipchoge said at the press conference, noting that preparations for his sub two-hour run (1:59:40.2) in Vienna drew quite some knowledge from Formula One and sailing.

“To receive the support from such a great entity in sports is a huge boost to myself and the team. We have had a wonderful relationship since we first started working together and have already changed the world together once.

Eliud Kipchoge and the NN Running Team members during an INEOS photoshoot with their new INEOS-branded apparel./NN Running Team |

“I am excited to keep breaking barriers with the support of INEOS on our side. I believe that we can make a strong impact across all sports by sharing our knowledge and experiences with each other. To utilize the greatest minds in sports will continue to allow us to keep pushing the boundaries of running. I am very excited for the future ahead.”

Brailsford compared Kipchoge to “a gladiator” owing to his resilience and work ethic.“Eliud transcends sport and epitomises what all elite INEOS athletes need to look like.

Eliud is like a gladiator on the running track and very disciplined off it, living a monastic life off the track, and is a role model to aim for,” Brailsford said.

Meanwhile, Trouw confirmed the spring marathon date for the world marathon record holder but said details would emerge soon, saying they were monitoring global trends owing to the complications visited on sport by Covid-19.

“We have a plan in place but we need to give the organisations involved some time. We shall make an announcement in two or three weeks as we are monitoring the (Covid-19) situation worldwide… but there’s a plan A, B and C.”

Eliud Kipchoge and the NN Running Team members during an INEOS photoshoot with their new INEOS-branded apparel./NN Running Team |

The NN Running Team, the brainchild of Kipchoge’s Dutch management company Global Sports Communications’ chief executive officer Jos Hermens, is the first global professional running team and have built a performance environment in which it supports athletes to reach the best of their potential.

“I have always worked hard to improve on the services for our athletes and with INEOS stepping in we can again make the next steps in our sport. It makes me incredibly proud and happy,” Hermens, a former Dutch distance running record holder, said yesterday.
“With the NN Running Team a dream came true, and I believe we are only at the beginning of how we can improve and grow our sport.”

NN Running team see their model as well placed in the commercial landscape.

“We continue to show the human side of our athletes and their results, since it attracts the right fans and sponsors that support our mission. This will help us to grow our team and our sport in the right direction,” NN Running Team’s Marketing Director, Marleen Vink-Rennings noted.

Last August, Kipchoge become only the third man to defend the Olympic men’s marathon title after Ethiopia’s Bikila (1960 and 1964) and East Germany’s Cierpinski (1976 and 1980).

His winning time at the Tokyo Olympic Games marathon race in Sapporo was two minutes and six seconds outside compatriot Sammy Wanjiru’s Olympic record 2:06:32.

Kipchoge, 36, crossed the finish line at the Sapporo Odori Park one minute, 20 seconds faster than silver medallist Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands with Belgium’s Bashir Abdi taking bronze in 2:10:00, both athletes tracing their roots in Mogadishu.

All three medallists are managed by Hermens’ Nijmegen-based Global Sports Communication (GCS) and run for the Nijmegen-based NN Running Club.

Speaking in Tokyo, World Athletics President Seb Coe described Kipchoge – who won his first Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 (in 2:08:44) – as a hero inside and outside sport.

Kipchoge also holds the world marathon record at 2:01:39 from the 2018 Berlin Marathon.

“Eliud Kipchoge is a hero. He’s a hero to millions and millions of people, and it goes way beyond athletics,” Coe, himself a former Olympic middle distance champion and world record holder, said.

“You’ve only got to see the emotional appeal that he has – and I’ve seen this close at hand when he’s been in running communities,” Coe said at the final press conference of the Tokyo Games.

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