Am­bi­tious ‘rab­bit’

Eind­hoven Marathon pace­set­ter who went on to win the race eyes World ti­tle

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports - BY STAN­LEY MAGUT @mgt­stan

Af­ter en­ter­ing Eind­hoven Marathon as a pace­set­ter and go­ing on to win the race last week­end, Festus Talaam is now seek­ing to rep­re­sent Kenya on a higher stage.

The am­bi­tious 21-year-old run­ner says he is ready to rep­re­sent the coun­try in which­ever as­sign­ment in­clud­ing World Cham­pi­onships and Olympics Games.

“My 2:06 is among the fastest for a marathon de­but and I want to build up on that as I shape up my road run­ning ca­reer. If called up, I would rep­re­sent Kenya at the next year’s World Cham­pi­onships. If not I just want to run in the big city marathons. Cur­rently, I am off sea­son un­til next year,” Ta­lam said.

Talaam, who op­er­ates un­der Ikaika Sports Tal­ent Scout­ing pro­gramme, stunned the world af­ter se­cur­ing vic­tory with a fastest time on his marathon de­but.

Ta­lam clocked 2:06.26 to win the 33rd Eind­hoven Marathon though he was de­ployed to pace the race un­til the 35km mark. In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view yes­ter­day at Ka­mariny Sta­dium, Ta­lam was ex­cited as he nar­rated how he brought down de­fend­ing cham­pion Mar­ius Kipserem.

“My task was to lead the group through 35km but when I com­pleted, I still felt very en­er­getic, forc­ing me to surge to vic­tory,” said Ta­lam. He was not new on the course and had re­quested the or­gan­is­ers to have him fin­ish the race since he was look­ing for a per­sonal best time in his de­but.

“I paced Eind­hoven last year and went ahead to pace Rot­ter­dam Marathon too but I have never fin­ished. I dis­cov­ered that I am al­ways strong af­ter com­plet­ing my pac­ing du­ties and this year, I re­quested the or­gan­is­ers to al­low me to fin­ish be­cause I wanted a time in marathon,” Ta­lam ex­plained.

“Ini­tially, I was not sure of the vic­tory but when I saw the guys trail­ing me and I was still strong at the 35km mark, I went for the good and got the crown,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to Julien Di Maria, who is in charge of Ikaika Sports Tal­ent Scout­ing pro­gramme, Ta­lam’s progress has been very im­pres­sive since the be­gin­ning of his ath­letic ca­reer.

It has been two years now since his marathon ca­reer de­vel­op­ment be­gun un­der the pro­gramme. “I and My col­leagues have worked for two years build­ing him for the marathon. Af­ter pac­ing some Europe races, we saw he had the abil­ity in the longer event to per­form well.

Al­ready in our mind, we had the idea to have him fin­ish,” Julien said. “In Rot­ter­dam he could have won but he was only a pacemaker. But this year, we en­tered him for the task but re­quested to have him fin­ish be­cause we didn’t want to en­ter him as a com­peti­tor to avoid pres­suris­ing him,” Julien ex­plained.

Af­ter run­ning 44:35 last year at the Zan Bran­son Mmemo­rial 15km in Baringo, Ta­lam went ahead to place sec­ond at the Laggo Mag­giore Half Marathon in Italy with an im­pres­sive 60:56.

He also fin­ished fourth at the Usti nad Labem Half Marathon with 61:34 last year and this year, he timed 61:48 at the Goten­borg Half Marathon in Swe­den. The Run Czech Rac­ing is a de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme spon­sored by Adi­das meant to scout and de­velop young tal­ent for road races. “We scout for the tal­ent and sup­port their train­ing and af­ter that we en­ter them in lo­cal races and take to Europe for some shorter road races.

The next step is the in­tro­duc­tion to marathon through pac­ing. And if we feel they are ready, we now go full blast in marathon. That is the pro­gramme Ta­lam has gone through,” Julien said.

/STAN­LEY MAGUT

Festus Talaam in train­ing at Ka­mariny Sta­dium in Iten.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kenya

© PressReader. All rights reserved.