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Eliud Kipchoge

Princess of Asturias Award for Sports 2023

Your Majesties,
Your Royal Highnesses,
Distinguished Laureates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Receiving this award tonight fulfills me with honor, as it’s an acknowledgement for something that I’ve believed in thoroughly throughout my career. To some, running is simply an act of physical movement. But ever since I started running as a young boy in Kapsabet, Kenya, I knew running meant something much greater than that.

See, running is not just physical movement. Running is a vehicle that has the power to unite us. Running unites people from all different walks of life. Whereby different cultures and backgrounds come together to run. This is one of the things what makes running a marathon so special. And I don’t mean just for me personally, who is trying to win the race. I am talking about the 40.000 other runners who run the race with me and above all the thousands of people in the streets cheering them on.

In running it doesn’t matter what background you have. It does not matter what the color of your skin is. You will be cheered on for the entire duration of your race because we all come together in this moment to celebrate running. Running is a testament that we are one. Running a marathon is a celebration. A moment where you are applauded for the endless hours of devotion, discipline and passion that you have instilled into your training leading up to this moment. Whether you are a professional athlete like me, a business owner or a single parent. We all have had to find the time in a busy schedule to pursue a dream.

It's because of this that I always say that we must make our world a running world. Because a running world is a happy world. And a happy world is a peaceful world. There is a strong parallel between running and our everyday life. Where we must focus on our mental health to be happy, where we must overcome challenges that are stowed upon us to eventually make it to the proverbial finish line. Because let me share one thing with you tonight: if you finish a marathon, you can achieve anything in life.

I can stand here today and say that I am a very fortunate man to have a career that has brought along so many highlights, Olympic gold medals and world records and a career that has inspired so many people around the world. It’s a career of longevity that witnessed a slow and steady rise to the top. I believe that one cannot rush success. It takes a strong approach in both sports and life. Reaching the top requires lots of discipline, countless hours of hard work at a time where it feels easier to stop and rest. It requires to believe in yourself, sure a bit of talent helps, but above all it requires a strong team surrounding you. One cannot succeed alone. We need each other, in both life and sports. People often ask me how I celebrate my successes. I can assure you I am not one to party late into the evening with champagne after winning a race. I like to return to my training camp in Kenya and plant a tree instead. Me and my teammates have started the tradition to plant a tree for our successes along the way. As the moment of glory, once you pass the finish line, is a fleeting moment. But the joy of a growing tree lasts for many lifetimes.

As athletes, we train in the forest. We need the forest as it is good for our health and for good breathing. I want the world to breathe well and without forests you cannot breathe. That’s why I am on a mission. I believe we all have a fruitful future ahead of us, but it’s a future that we must all foster carefully. To contribute to this mission, we have started the Eliud Kipchoge Foundation a few years ago, whereby we focus on two things: the environment and education. We must focus on instilling the right sustainability practices to take care of our planet. I want to reach out to help save and grow forests around the world. Education is another important issue and is key to develop the world in a good way. I am committed to assisting education programs within Kenya, but education is everywhere in the world and I would like to cross borders. I invite you to join our mission and help bring the right knowledge on these topics to our youth in Kenya and the world. Let me close this evening by sharing my mantra: No Human Is Limited.

As we can only achieve greatness if we fully believe that there is nothing holding us back. There are no limits, just what our mind tricks us to believe. So, I urge to you see the world this way. To see the world without limits and to see all that is possible. I also invite you to start running. Whereby it does not matter how far or how fast you run. As you will start feeling what I feel.

A running world is a happy world. A running world is a united world.

Thank you.

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