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Ambitious ‘rabbit’

By Stanley Magut

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.

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