World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge was on Sunday treated to a rare VIP treatment during the Mashujaa Day celebrations at the Mama Ngina Waterfront grounds in Mombasa County.
Kipchoge, who recently made history after breaking the two-hour marathon barrier in Austria’s capital Vienna, had his seat reserved in the front row amid key dignitaries invited for the occasion.
As President Uhuru Kenyatta made his way to shake hands with Deputy President William Ruto, his wife Rachael Ruto, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho and other VIPS, Kipchoge was spotted standing next to Chief Justice David Maraga and next to him was Majority Leader of the National Assembly Aden Duale.
And finally, it was his turn to shake hands with the President days after arriving back into the country from Vienna. They exchanged pleasantries before the President proceeded to shake hands with other dignitaries including AU envoy and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
Kipchoge arrived in the coastal city on Saturday in style aboard a Kenya Forest Services plane and checked into Pride Inn paradise beach resort ahead of the celebrations.
Regarded as the greatest marathoner of all time, he became the first person in recorded history to run a 42-kilometre marathon in less than two hours.
The 34-year-old clocked 1:59:40.2 at the INEOS 1:59 challenge that was sponsored by Ineos Group owner and co-founder Jim Ratcliffe.
Kipchoge missed the mark by 26 seconds two years ago in Monza, Italy, during his first attempt to break the two-hour barrier.
He is among 200 Kenyans who will be feted during the celebrations.
Also on the list is Brigid Kosgei, who last week broke the world record for women marathon in Chicago after clocking 2:14:04 to break Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old marathon.
Mashujaa Day or “Heroes Day” was originally called “Kenyatta Day” in honour of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, but the name was changed after the 2010 constitution was adopted in an effort to expand the day’s meaning from honouring only those who took part in the independence movement from Britain to honouring all of Kenya’s heroes.