Friday, November 8, 2013

Kenyan Distance Domination

Leading up to last weekend's New York City Marathon there was great coverage of the elite athletes, as always. But this year's attention focused heavily on Kenyans, with good reason, as you will read.

This NPR piece – "How One Kenyan Tribe Produces The World's Best Runners," looks specifically at the (relatively small) Kalenjin tribe's domination in world long-distance racing.

Scientists and sports gurus have proposed all sorts of explanations over the years for Kalenjin prowess on the track: from their high-starch diet, to the altitude, to socioeconomics.

All those factors are important, but none of them explain why this particular tribe is so dominant. That left Epstein when he was writing his book exploring a more controversial line of inquiry: Is there something genetically different about the Kalenjin that makes them superior runners?

[Please click on link above to read/listen to entire report.]

This article in The Wall Street Journal – "Tegla Loroupe's '94 NYC Marathon Win Reverberated in Africa: The Kenyan Woman's Victory Inspired Others to Follow Her, and They Have," looks at how the breakthrough 1994 NYC Marathon win for Loroupe, the first African woman to win a major marathon, was just the kick-off to what would become the African women's turn to dominate distance running on an international scale.

Since Loroupe's victory, Kenyan women have won five of the intervening New York marathons and now own six world records in distance running.

This really interesting article explores some of Loroupe's upbringing and the training that led to her '94 victory.

[Please click on the article link above to read the entire story.]

And finally, this Sports Illustrated article – "Wesley Korir running for a cause -- and eventually president of Kenya," examines the political strife and violence in Korir's home country that led to his determination in distance running, and motivates him to help bring about real political change in his country.

"I want to use my life experience of how I moved from poverty to prosperity," he said, "and I want to use the same thing -- education and talent, empowerment, talent development -- to make people really use what they have, what God has given them, to better themselves."


"I always tell people aim for the moon," he said, "you miss it, you land at the stars."

[Please click on the article link above to read the entire story.]

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