Hail, (Ed) Caesar!

By Mario Fraioli

Kipchoge has no real physiological point of difference from many other small, slight, super-fit Kenyans. His domination appears to result from his adamantine commitment, both in training and in races, and his self-belief. “It’s not your legs that run,” he explained to me one sunny morning at his training camp in the forest of Kaptagat, in Kenya. “It’s your heart and your mind.”

I didn’t expect anything less than excellent reporting and compelling writing from Ed Caesar’s definitive Breaking2 dispatch for Wired magazine, and despite his own arguments to the contrary, the 6,000+ word piece did not disappoint. Ed spins an intriguing tale around Eliud Kipchoge’s 2-hour marathon in Monza while weaving in various tidbits of insight and inspiration that any dedicated runner can appreciate. I also appreciated his honest reporting around hot button topics such as technology, drafting and doping—“When I spoke to Travis Tygart, head of the USADA, he said that Nike could easily have asked the IAAF to institute a tougher antidoping regimen for the three athletes involved in the project. Nike declined to do so, for reasons the company never satisfactorily explained to me.”—that kept this from turning into a PR puff-piece.

+ If you’re new to the shakeout (or just weren’t paying attention the first couple times around), be sure to check out my “Going Long” interview with Ed from back in January. I enjoyed looking back and seeing how his finish product(s) matched up with the intentions he laid out almost six months ago. “I’m writing a huge magazine story after the event as well, which will hopefully clear up what happened at which stage and who was doing what and all that kind of thing. … I’m going to follow the athletes as much as I can. I am going to ask as many questions as I can. I’m going to do as much travel and as much inquisition as I possibly ferret out how the thing is going to be put together. … I’m neither for or against. I just want to see what happens.” Bravo, Ed.

A version of this post first appeared in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter covering running, writing, media and other topics that interest me. If you’d like for it to land in your inbox first thing on Tuesday mornings, subscribe here.