Everyone knows Paul Tergat. On Sunday, September 28, 2003, millions of people all around the world witnessed his historic race in Berlin. Whether watching on TV or cheering along the course or from within the running masses, they experienced a world record race at the 30th anniversary of the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON by the Kenyan running phenomenon as he ran down the boulevard Strasse des 17. Juni near the Brandenburg Gate shortly after 11 a.m. in the standing record time of 2:04:55, in front of Sammy Korir in 2:04:56 and Titus Munji in 2:06:15 - the fastest city marathon of all times.
The person Paul Tergat
Now, finally (!) a book has been published about Paul Tergat in German and English, in which, of course, this world record has also been described. But not only is the runner Paul Tergat presented in this book, but we also get to know the person Paul Tergat through both words and photos.
The author of this entertaining reading experience is not only a renowned sport journalist, who both writes well and knows a lot about running, but he also has been close to Paul Tergat for years. Jürg Wirz from Switzerland is the founder and former editor of the Swiss trade magazine “Der Läufer” (The Runner). He has been working since 1999 as a free-lance writer in Kenya (among others, for the “Neue Züricher Zeitung” and “Runner’s World”). Jürg Wirz has accompanied Paul Tergat closely since 1992 as a friend and consultant and now for the first time has put down his experiences on paper. In addition, he also often allows Tergat to speak directly in the book.
“Champ and Gentleman”
The German title, “Champ and Gentleman” (in English the book is entitled “Paul Tergat: Running to the Limit: His Life and His Training Secrets, with Many Tips for Runners”) fits the contents perfectly. It recollects Tergat’s successful path to the top: five-time Cross Country World Champion between 1995 and 1999, then the Half Marathon World Champion in 1999 and 2000, two-time 10,000m World Champion runner-up and two-time silver medallist in the same discipline at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and in Sydney in 2000...and so on and so forth. But we also find out much more about the person off the course, about his family, his wife Monica and his three children Ronald, Harriet and Gloria (“the source of his mental strength”), his military service, his business and his activities, his membership in the IAAF athletes commission, and last but not least, we learn much about running in his homeland Kenya. He even invites personally to join him there to run:
“So, if you are in Nairobi, please feel free to join us every Saturday at 9 a.m. at the horse track Ngong!” it says on page 198. It is divided into eleven chapters (including: How it all began, The eternal dual with Haile, The crowning achievement in Berlin), and it also includes numerous professional running tips, to say nothing of the fact that Paul Tergat also reveals his own training schedule.
Three elements: training, sleeping, eating
Whoever hopes to stay close on his heels or on those of any top Kenyan runner, has to plan on two, or better three, training sessions per day, easily totalling 260 km per week. The author Jürg Wirz also reports on a training camp at 3,000m elevation:
“The athletes’ lives are composed of three elements: training, sleeping, eating.” Then it all sounds so easy...
If you listen to the prominent voices that can be heard in the final chapter (including from his Italian coach Dr. Gabriele Rosa), Paul Tergat, the “Champ and Gentleman” is considered to be the most complete athlete ever in the history of running, as he can run at the same high level whether on the track, the road, or cross country. At the same time, he is the most disciplined and enthusiastic runner that Kenya has ever had. Nevertheless, he has remained modest...a role model for future generations. And how he sees himself: “I was born to run”. Paul Tergat will always remain a runner for us...and this impressive book will insure that!
Dr. Detlef Kuhlmann
Paul Tergat. Champ und Gentleman. Sein Leben. Seine Erfolge. Sein Training. Mit vielen Tipps für Läufer. Aachen 2005: Meyer & Meyer. 222 pages; 16. 95 €; ISBN 3-89899-084-2; available in bookstores and from the SCC RUNNING online souvenir shop.
In English: Paul Tergat: Running to the Limit: His Life and His Training Secrets, with Many Tips for Runners. Meyer & Meyer Sports Books: 2005.