NAIROBI, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Augustine Choge's marathon debut in Chicago last year ended with an injury; however, the runner says the false start will not hamper his dream to win on his return to road racing at the Valencia Marathon on December 1.
Choge, 32, has strategically opted not to compete in any marathon since his false start in Chicago, and believes his projected return will spur him to clinch his first title at the distance.
"Chicago was a big disappointment, as I believed I was in shape to run the marathon in about two hours and seven minutes," Choge said on Wednesday.
He returned home and went through rehab to recover from his groin injury. Since then, his form has steadily improved, and he was part of the 42 pacesetters who pushed Olympic and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in his successful 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria last month.
"As Eliud says, 'when something doesn't go well, forget about it and aim for the next branch'," Choge said. "I hope we will have good weather on the day [in Valencia]. It is my ambition one day to step into Eliud's shoes and be a great marathon runner. Anything is possible in sport."
In Chicago last year, Choge was mentally ready for the challenge before a groin injury forced him to quit just after 10km. But he says he is now looking forward to a good display in Valencia.
Initially, Choge was a middle-distance runner. However, after winning a World Indoor 3000m bronze medal in 2016 and later that year missing out on qualifying for the Rio Olympics, the diminutive athlete opted to focus his energy on the road.
Running an impressive 60:01 for third place in the 2016 New Delhi Half Marathon in 2016, in early 2017 Choge's burgeoning road career took another step forward, as he logged 59:26 at the RAK Half Marathon in the UAE for another third place finish.
After a chat with Kipchoge he decided to focus on the marathon - and although injuries have hampered his progression, he has enjoyed the experience.
"I initially joined in some long runs with Eliud on a weekend in 2018. Eliud's management team, the NN Running Team, allowed me to use their facilities," said Choge, now a father of two.
"They made me feel really welcome and Eliud has been a great friend. We have great coaching and management. I am proud to be a part of this group."