MWANGI: Marathon drama: Kipchoge’s silence and Twitter tsunami

Whether Kipchoge breaks silence or not, the race will endure and continue to captivate our imaginations.

In Summary
  • As the marathon community and the world at large grapple with the marathon drama that played out on X, one thing is certain: the marathon continues.
  • Records will be broken, legends will emerge, and rivalries will persist.
Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after winning Berlin Marathon
CHAMPION: Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after winning Berlin Marathon

In the world of long-distance running, records are broken, legends are made and rivalries are born.The marathon, a race steeped in history and tradition, is no stranger to drama that accompanies monumental achievements and the occasional changing of the guard.

In recent days, the marathon world has been abuzz, not just with the astonishing feat of Kelvin Kiptum in the Chicago Marathon but also with the deafening silence of the former world record holder, Eliud Kipchoge.

As the marathon community braced itself for the collision of talent and ego, Twitter took centrestage, delivering a drama fit for the digital age: the men’s marathon world record in Chicago,US,

Kiptum broke a record that had previously been deemed unbreakable is no small feat. The world marvelled at his achievement, and social media erupted in celebration. Kenyans, in particular, rallied behind their new hero, applauding his grit, determination and undeniable talent. Yet, amid the jubilation, there was an elephant in the room - or, in this case, a silence on X, formerly the Twitter timeline.

Eliud Kipchoge, the revered marathon maestro, remained conspicuously silent.

X, the playground of opinions and emotions, was soon inundated with tweets and hashtags, each expressing varying degrees of surprise, disappointment and frustration. As Kiptum trended for his triumph, Kipchoge trended for his silence. The Twitterati had spoken, and they demanded to know why Kipchoge, a figure of national and international importance, had not publicly acknowledged the remarkable achievement of his fellow Kenyan.

X, in recent years, has become the virtual town square, a platform where news, opinions, and trends are disseminated in real time. It’s where athletes connect with fans, politicians make policy announcements, and celebrities share glimpses of their lives. It’s also where the court of public opinion convenes, rendering judgments and demanding accountability.

In the case of Kipchoge and Kiptum, X became the stage for a captivating drama. As the tweets poured in,some were laced with disappointment and frustration. They questioned whether Kipchoge’s silence was a breach of sportsmanship, an affront to tradition, or simply a missed opportunity to celebrate a fellow athlete’ success. Others defended Kipchoge’s right to remain silent, citing that the was under no legal or moral obligation to do otherwise.

Rivalries are the lifeblood of sports. From Ali and Frazier in boxing to Federer and Nadal in tennis, rivalries add a layer of drama and intrigue that captivates fans and transcends the sport itself. In the marathon, few rivalries have been as iconic as that between Eliud Kipchoge and the clock.

Kipchoge’s pursuit of excellence, culminating in his historic sub-two-hour marathon, elevated him to legendary status. The torchbearer of marathon excellence, Kipchoge’s silence in the wake of Kiptum’s record-breaking run was akin to a Hollywood plot twist. Had the torch been passed in silence, or was this merely a bump in the road of marathon history? Twitter became the arena where fans dissected the dynamics of rivalry, sportsmanship and the responsibilities of an iconic athlete.

Beyond the drama and X hashtags, this episode invites us to reflect on the broader responsibilities of athletes in the digital age. Social media has blurred the lines between public and private life, allowing fans unprecedented access to their sporting heroes. Athletes are not merely competitors but also symbols of inspiration, aspiration, and national pride. Their actions on and off the field resonate with a global audience. Kipchoge’s silence forces us to question the role of athletes as role models and ambassadors for their sports and nations.

While they may not be legally bound to issue public statements, the impact of their words, or lack thereof, extends far beyond their personal lives. It is a reminder that in a world connected by screens, actions, or inactions, speak volumes.

As the marathon community and the world at large grapple with the marathon drama that played out on X, one thing is certain: the marathon continues. Records will be broken, legends will emerge, and rivalries will persist. The power of social media, with its ability to amplify voices and create narratives, will remain a force to be reckoned with in the world of sports.

In the end, whether Kipchoge eventually breaks his silence or chooses to remain reticent, the marathon will endure. It will continue to captivate our imaginations, inspire future generations, and remind us that in the realm of long-distance running, the drama is never far behind, whether on on the track or on the Twitter timeline.


Officer, research planning and strategy, Media Council of Kenya

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