Eliud Kipchoge

One of the great marathon runners of all time honoured by the University of Exeter

One of the great marathon runners of all time, Eliud Kipchoge, will be honoured at the University of Exeter's Winter Graduation ceremony this weekend.

The Kenyan distance runner recently became the first person to run a sub-two-hour marathon. In a remarkable feat of endurance, Eliud delivered his ‘moon-landing’ moment by crossing the finish line in 1:59:40.

Professor Dame Mary Beard, one of Britain's best-known classicists, Dr Elena Becker-Barroso, the Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet Neurology, Professor Gordon Marshall, Director of the Leverhulme Trust and Dr Howard Fillit, Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, will also be given honorary degrees during ceremonies on Friday and Saturday.

Eliud has won the Olympic title and eight Marathon Major victories. He was raised by a single mother, together with his three older siblings, in the village of Kapsisiywa in Nandi County. Eliud was earning a living delivering milk on his bike when, inspired to become a professional runner, he approached Patrick Sang, a neighbour and former World and Olympic 3000m steeplechase silver medalist, for coaching advice. Eliud, 35, was also recently presented with the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (EGH) award by President Uhuru Kenyatta – the highest honour in Kenya.

Professor Andrew Jones, from the University of Exeter’s Department of Sport and Health Sciences, worked with Nike on their ‘Breaking 2’ marathon project, which resulted in Eliud running what was then the world’s fastest ever marathon of 2:00:25 in 2017. Professor Jones administered the initial physiological tests used to identify runners with the potential to break two hours, and then helped monitor Eliud’s training and advised on appropriate nutrition.

Professor Beard is a distinguished Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Newnham College. She has written numerous books on the ancient world, presented the highly-acclaimed TV series, Meet the Romans and Rome – Empire without Limit, as well as documentaries on Pompeii, Caligula and Julius Caesar, and is a regular broadcaster and media commentator. Mary is also Classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement and writes a thought-provoking blog, A Don's Life.

Dr Becker-Barroso’s doctoral studies and postdoctoral work focused on neuronal signal transduction pathways mediated by neurotrophic factors and its receptors. Before embarking on her editorial career Elena worked as a research fellow for the Medical Research Council (MRC), at the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Neurobiology at King’s College London.

Professor Marshall was previously Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, Chief Executive of the Economic and Research Council, and Official Fellow in Sociology at Nuffield College, Oxford. Between 2007 and 2011 he was also Chairman of the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Dr Fillit MD is an internationally recognised geriatrician, neuroscientist and expert in Alzheimer's disease. The mission of the not-for-profit Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is to rapidly accelerate the discovery and development of drugs to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Fillit is currently a clinical professor of geriatric medicine and palliative care, medicine and neurosciences at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter, said: “Graduation is a special occasion where we recognise the achievements of our students, who work so hard. It’s a time when we can also wish them well as they prepare to begin the next chapter of their lives and make a positive difference to the world.

“We are also thrilled to recognise the outstanding work of our honorary graduates. Hearing about their historic achievements will be a highlight of the graduation ceremonies.”

Date: 13 December 2019

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