In April, the NN Running Team released a short, 18-minute documentary called The long run, an inside view, which looked at several African training groups, all of which included NN athletes. Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele was featured in this film, but only briefly. On May 21, NN Running posted another mini-doc, this one focused solely on Bekele. Viewers get to see various spots around Ethiopia where Bekele trains and to hear the three-time Olympic champion himself talk about the highs (and there are a lot of them) and lows of his career. It’s a great film to watch for anyone looking to learn more about one of the greatest runners of all time.
Forget the tactics
The mini-doc starts off with an interesting take from Bekele: tactics don’t matter in the marathon. This is a bit surprising coming from the second-fastest marathon runner of all time, but he has good reasoning behind this opinion. He says if a runner prepares well and puts in the work, they should be able to stay in the front group in a race. If they don’t prepare well, then their race tactics can’t help them when the lead group pushes the pace and drops them.
“Maybe tactics work if you are close,” he says, specifically regarding his run in Berlin in 2019 when he ran a 2:01:41, just two seconds off of Eliud Kipchoge‘s marathon world record. There’s a good lesson here for all runners: yes, tactics can help you set new PBs, but focus more on the hard work if you want to improve and post fast results.
A full career
The rest of this documentary shows Bekele looking back on past races, both good and bad. He talks about how he was “very hungry” heading into his first Olympics in Athens in 2004, where he won 10,000m gold, but his lack of experience was to blame when he didn’t win the 5,000m (he came in second).
He continues to talk about returning to the Olympics in 2008 and winning double gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m, plus similar first-place performances at the world championships a year later in each event. He also talks about his “saddest race ever” at the Amsterdam Marathon in 2018 when he had to drop out in front of his family who were on site to cheer him on.
Finally, he discusses his 2019 performance at the Berlin Marathon, which disappointed him at the time since it was so close to the world record. He goes on to say he has come to be happy with his performance in Germany. It wasn’t a world record, but it silenced the naysayers who thought his career was finished.
“I showed the world,” he says. His run in Berlin showed everyone that his career is far from over, and this documentary shows that he’s still a man who’s just as hungry to win as he was back before anyone knew his name.