First of all let me start this post by informing you that I am no sports scientist, or do I wish to portray myself as an expert on Kenya. It is my feelings after one year of regular contact with the country and some of its elite athletes…
“Its the altitude”
“Its in their genes”
“It is because of their long wirey legs ”
Yes we’ve heard it all before and most likely, it is correct too. Infact the real answer is most likely the combination of all the gossiped factors. However, i´d like to focus on two points that I have witnessed first hand…
As with the Brazilians and their football. New Zealand and their Rugby, and the Indians with their cricket – Running is Kenya !
There is a born belief within the country that Kenyans are the best runners in the world, and this positive attitude towards their talents drives thousands of children to wish to be like their heroes – the likes of David Rudisha.
A phrase I have often heard throughout sport and business alike it ´believe it to achieve it´ – and this confidence / border line arrogance , in my opinion, elevates the mind set of the Brazilians, New Zealander´s & of course, Kenyans. An attribute that cannot be ignored in the question of ´what makes the Kenyans so good at Running ?’
Thanks to the above, Running is a way out. Teenagers see the likes of Rudisha driving around in his nice car in Iten, and a host of Major Marathon winners and Gold Medalists taking selfies with their smart phones – their heroes.
But what goes with poverty and a dream, is a desire. A fight, a struggle. Ask Jake and Zane Robertson, the New Zealander twins who fled home to relocate to Kenya about the struggle – much is documented of their early years living in less than pleasant conditions, grafting daily with other ambitious athletes. Ask last weekends London Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge about struggle – the man who absolutely doesn’t need to, but before big races moves himself into the training camp with this coach Patrick Sang and lives with athletes, completing daily chores and being completely equal with his room mates.
I talked yesterday with CoopsRun athlete Boaz Kipyego. To put into perspective, Boaz lives in an iron sheet house with his wife and 3 year old girl – his girl, currently resides with Boaz´s mother in law as the heavy rain has seeped into the house and it is not comfortable for his child.
Coach sent me a video yesterday of Boaz´s run in the group session in the morning, 30km in 1 hour 40 – but when I spoke to Boaz, he was about to go out and complete his evening recovery run of 10km. Many athletes around the world simply get distracted, and would skip this evening session or complete it half heartedly.
Running is hard, it hurts, it hurts a lot – but the pain barrier is worth crossing so much more when you know that finishing in the top 10 of a large marathon can change your life.
As i said before, no expert analysis here – just my views after 1 year. Let me know if you found this interesting or agree / disagree in the comments ?