Introducing Patrick Kipngeno
A new face on the mountain running circuit, the 29 year old has been the revelation of the 2022 season, taking 3 wins from 3 starts so far in the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup.
Following a successful career on the roads, with personal bests of 62:49 for the Half Marathon and 29:20 for 10k, both set in Kenya at around 2,000m above sea level and both marks he is intent on improving, Kipngeno made his mountain running debut in winning the Kenyan national championships in 2020.
He followed that up in February this year with a win at the second edition of the Mt. Kenya Run. A race with a prize of 500,000 Kenyan Shillings (approx. €4,100) for first place, almost 5,000 participants and the support of Athletics Kenya, it is a weather vane for the growing interest in the discipline in Kenya.
Now based in Austria and racing in the colours of Run2gether, Kipngeno has been unstoppable in his three World Cup races so far, each performance more impressive than the last. Victory at the 2nd edition of Montemuro Vertical Run in Portugal got the ball rolling, before a comfortable win on his new home turf saw him run one of the fastest times ever at Großglockner Berglauf. He went one better at the 35th Montée du Nid d'Aigle, taking over 5 minutes off Xavier Chevrier's 2021 course record.
We caught up with him to hear more about his journey in mountain running so far and where he will go next.
You won your first ever mountain race at the Kenyan national championships in 2020. How did it come about that you decided to try mountain running? Did you expect to be so successful straight away?
"Yes, it was my first mountain race and it was surprise to me. I took part because first of all there were few competitions because of corona and secondly at that time I had an injury but uphill running was ok, but not on flat terrain. It's after that I thought of starting competing in more mountain races. I adjusted my training with additional hill training but other training remains the same, speed in flat training remains the same. I am also focused on doing well in road races and maybe full road marathon."
What are your impressions of your first World Cup season so far? How are you liking living and training in Austria?
"So far it's good with three wins and also the village where I am staying in Austria, called Kals am Großglockner, is perfect place for training. Not only for mountain races but also to get in shape and prepare for road races because of high altitude and perfect training courses, and also interaction with European athletes during our Run2gether running weeks is something good for me and very unique in whole world of athletics. I am really happy to be part of that now."
You are on a team with 2 previous World Cup winners, Geoffrey Ndungu and Joyce Njeru. Have you been able to draw on their experience in your first year on the circuit?
"Yes, they always tell me how the terrain and course will be and I get prepared for it. We also train together every day in Kals during the week and push each other to become stronger and stronger. Fortunately we are a big team when staying in our Run2gether camp in Kenya (approx. 60 athletes) but also now when staying in Austria (approx. 15-20 athletes). We have strong track, road and mountain runners, training together and benefiting from each other."
What are your plans and goals for the rest of this season?
"At the moment am focused to win the World Cup overall this season and hoping Kenya will send the team to the World Championship and looking forward to be in the team. For sure World Champs in 2023 in Austria will be very interesting for me and I will focus a lot because it is not so far from our training camp and the terrain will be similar. Most important to make step by step, to improve in all necessary mountain running skills, keep and improve also the speed in flat terrain and try to be successful whenever taking part in a race."
Kipngeno will continue his World Cup campaign this weekend at Giir di Mont Uphill. Check out his results so far on his profile on the World Mountain Running Ranking. For more on Run2gether visit their website: http://www.run2gether.com/.
Photos by Marco Gulberti, Corsa in Montagna.