I went to the Supermarket to see Salad Girl and I happened to be in the area. Sadly I did not find her, but I found a new friend. I was planning on buying JUST 6-beers and had to go somewhere after so I had a small bag. But, they had biscuits on supersale - but you had to buy ten bags to get the super-deal. Hm, I could not fit them all in my bag - I looked like Billy Smith's ragman with ten bags of biscuits and a six pack - well who am I kidding, that's my diet for dinner anyway.
Next off we went to that restaurant called Ocean that is decorated like a Boat, just behind the nat. history museum on Columbus - I ate tonnes of bread, the maki sushi, the seafood linguine and a tiny tiny slice of cheesecake, stellas and coffee. Urm 7.4/10 for food. Okidoki.
So, please fill up on your running needs for 2010 and help those who need helping!!
Hilda "Airlines" Kibet, European XC Champ, and Sylvia "Sleepy" Kibet, World Silver 5000m, run at the Iten Promoting AIDS awareness 5k in Kenya this past December. This girl tried so hard it looked like she was going to stumble. As the picture shows she fought off help, and ran strongly to the finish. To run your first race along side such legends is an honor indeed, and it is the community atmosphere we create at our races. All runners were met at the finish line by Mary Keitany... now a world champion, but once upon a time (in fact in Jan 2006) she was exactly like that girl who stumbled (she fell, got up finishing 21st in the Iten Shoe4Africa 10k)... Dreams do come true.
MARY KEITANY, world champion 2009.
Mary Keitany running for 21st place, January 2006 at the Shoe4Africa 10km.
On the NYC side I need to buy a new fridge - why because my fridge is as tall as me and four times as wide. In fact I may save it as a coffin, but in the meantime I want a small energy efficient half sized one. I wonder if I buy if they collect?
I am super pleased with myself. My bike did not stop as the disc brakes did not work, but I learned how to adjust them, and they now work ace! kool beans as I was considering just going to a shop and having them do it.
Yesterday I spent the whole day writing a hospital proposal plan, and now I am finally happy with something that I might have got! Still need more details, but it is amazing what 12-hours straight work can do.
THE KIBERA EVENT DEC 2008
Am happy that the weather is actually ok in NYC and not cold at all. The flights were fine but they do not feed you enough. Next time I go prepared, you would think I would learn by now. Kenya was fantastic, I love the place and it is so hard to leave. In the meantime I settle back in to Harlem!
Tomorrow it is back up to Eldoret and hopefully doing more stuff at the hospital, more Q's to be answered, more of the presentation to be fixed, I feel we are speeding up!
The race was great, I donated a few sacks of shoes but want to get more involved next year, in fact I was told by Amos Korir, a famed coach and Chairman of the AK Nandi, that I was going to get involved next year!
Isaac Songok was there, in fact he has just bought a new house in Eldo, Japheth Kimutai who I used to train with, Martin Lel- one of my best Kenyan friends, and more of him later, Alfred Yego - who with Janeth is the only person to have medalled in the 800m for the 2007 worlds, 2008 Olympics and 2009 worlds! Both are Claudio's athletes! After the race we went back to Janeth's house for dinner, she is such an angel, and she took me to meet her grandmother who raised her.
I skipped over Christmas day - but quickly I had the most amazing conversations over Christmas Dinner with Disi, the Rwandan athlete and national record holder, 59:32 for the half, as he told me all about the genocide of 1994, losing 200 of his relatives and seeing his own mother stabbed to death... poor soul. He has invited me to help with the Rwandan Peace Marathon in 2010.
2009 had been a rough year for Kenya, and in many parts the land had not tasted water for the entire year. My mind went back in Christmas 2008. Then I remembered the sad faces, how after waiting for the celebration, they realized that the day would be spent begging food. Near the Baringo to Pokwot district, best known for cattle rusting and AK-47’s, there had been dire hunger. "An international crisis and call for help" had come from the politicians. People here were eating just maize and then donkeys, and then dogs.
What if they could have a food package for Christmas? Chapatis in Kenya, unlike those in India, are a thick, sweet, doughy meal and a treat for any kid. You need cooking fat, flour, and sugar. So, from the supermarket, we got 2500kgs of sugar in sacks, 2500 clear plastic bags, and a cup that measured out a kilo. We got 2500kgs of flour, and pots of cooking fats, then also the same amount of little packets of tea.
The day after the race I worked with about six Kenyan volunteers, including Precious Boit, and a Tanzanian runner called Malack, and we packed the food. We unloaded the supermarket trucks, and worked like slaves. As fast as lightning we tried, the incredible Malack, who was a Maasai from TZ, was carrying 100kgs of sugar on his back and running from the truck. Following a break for lunch I asked Precious if she instead wished to swim in the pool, "No, let me pack sugar."
By six in the evening word got out that we were suffering with the magnitude of the job and for the last hour a slue of people came to help, the Kenyan way. European athletes like Oliver Hoffman from Germany, Reina from Holland, and the Simba.
The next day, extremely early the truck left, then Precious and her sisters Neema & Joy, Malack, and I, a local girl who knew the roads called Naomi, and two members of the church complete with a couple of members of the press who wished to come along, all packed into a twenty year old Nissan with no air conditioning and drove down the valley to the place where the rivers now were as dry as sand, where the cattle displayed every bone in their body, where the trees were so dry they cracked in the wind. The temperature was a stifling 40-Celsius and the hot sun pounded the bed of ground we stood on. We went to five centers where children came running, opened up the back of the truck and gave out every last drop of food.
I could not eat the entire day. When I saw the people who had not been eating for so long my stomach said no when we ourselves were offered food. It was a most rewarding day with the children singing 'May God bless you' in each center. Had I been born there I too would have been a singer instead of a passer-out. We had now changed the charity to add the dimension of feeding the hungry and I at once made a commitment, funding or not, to repeat the program.
Should the world record go, and it probably will, there is a $1-million bonus. Watch the men's match up with Wanjiru Vs Kitwara Vs Tadese!! Amongst of course many many others. Race director Pius is saying 60:09 is too slow for an invite to the men's field (but if you have ran that 'slow' you can make your own way there.
Yesterday I went for a run with the Simba whilst we discussed the hospital project, and also her project - a school. We said 30-minutes but ended up running for 80-minutes as we talked so much. Out on the run we met Hilda Kibet. Small town, big world.
Yesterday I went to a nice wedding for Tunes & her new husband. I did one traditional dance in a field, ate chapatis and played with kids most of the time. Today is back to work. In fact I am soon off to Kibera, I was going to go straight to Iten today, but rain delays so instead I go manana. The upcoming race is coming soon! Watch this space.
A Christmas wish. In 2010 I can lay this Hospital Project to rest by raising the money... Ok, Anyone can wish because Hope is for free, as are wishes. When I think of how far we have come... In 2008 we started collecting, now we have over $650,000 (enough to build a clinic) as we push on. Still the only charity I can find that is building a hospital with a one person (unpaid) staff ;->
**Okay I wish there was pay 'n benefits but the job is the best in the world, every day I wake up being grateful for the day when I got this project handed to me by my good friends Pieter and Lornah who I am really looking forward to seeing soon. Fingers crossed for 2010.
Lunch at Girasole, the top Italian on the Upper East Side, 82nd off Third - you should check it out, service, food n all is exceptional!
Talking of which... we are proud to announce, running with Shoe4Africa, in the 2010 ING New York City Marathon, the Dame, the former World champion, London & New York Marathon Champion, Liz McColgan!
THANKS LIZ!! Husband Peter is running too!
A day in the life continues... of building a hospital! Today I had the joy of standing for half an hour in line at the Post Office to get five rolls of postage stamps. Half an hour! And then it took me another twenty minutes sticking all the stamps on, and resealing envelopes. I was inches away from tossing all the envelopes in the post box adn I noticed two holes 'local' and 'out of town' - Geez, then I had to sort out all the piles. This lasted for about 200 until I realized I was running late for coaching, so I dashed off and stuffed the remainder in 'local'. Oh well!
After coaching I went to check my mail, little hickup here - I don't have internet connection and do 50% on my work on the internet (do you know how many emails we get per day?), but have a place at 46th ST that does, so I am lollipopping between the two, five miles (about four times today - great for my bicycling skills). Speaking of which, don't buy a WII board these holidays, for the true reality get a bike and cycle in Manhattan. Ten points to avoid a taxi, 9 for a car service...
Speaking of which when I went to Vegas the driver on the way to the airport, from India, was a wanna be BollySinger.. he sung at the top of his voice, with booming India-beats (which I had no complaints about), but got so engrossed in the music we came to a grinding halt and smashed into the car in front in Queens. I had a Chinese driver on the way back, same ethnic music, less singing and no crash... Anyroads, so I was shuttling up and down all day. Went to lunch with Tony in midtown at a nice Italian at Broadway and 51st - we had Minestrone Soup as it was so cold, two beers, as it was so cold(!), and the rich vodka sauce Salmon pasta special, and Cappuccino. The sauce was so rich both of us declined the desserts - nice place.
Then I zipped back to have a conference call with the lawyers about a trademark infringement, of course another cycle ride as they wanted some papers that of course I did not have, another five miles back downtown, before an evening talk to a new group I am going to coach, who are going to run the Paris Half Marathon and fund raise for S4A, so I am there head coach. Got home at 10 to a pile of checks to enter into the data base, addresses and whatnots, sign and take to the bank tomorrow!
Tomorrow morning - coaching Central Park 7-8, and 9-10, I should also be at a meeting at 10 at the Little Cup on the West Side, of course I will be sweaty and on the East Side. I have another meeting at the Rockefeller Center at 11:30 in midtown, an appointment at the bank at 1pm uptown... And that is just the morning! Pass me another beer - if I become an alcoholic doing this please don't blame me.
For more info: call Mike at 917-579-7307 email@example.com When: Tuesday December 15th at 7pm. Where: the East Side of 102nd St transverse on the park drive in Central Park.
Please attend if you can.
But, to be honest the whole entire time I was in Las Vegas I was either in the dining room (with nice folks) or in my hotel room. I am serious, the whole time (until Sunday). I sat the whole time from dawn till dusk writing thank you letters for all the checks we received for Shoe4Africa. Can you believe I wrote 489 thank you letters, 489 envelopes I addressed, 489 times I wrote my return address on envelopes! I tell a lie, I did go somewhere apart from sitting in my hotel room. I went to the business center to try and buy 489 stamps. They were like, "Are you crazy Sir? There is a stamp machine but it only accepts quarters. Y'all gonna be feeding that machine for a long, long time." I decided to wait till I get back to NYC and go to a regular Post Office. On Sunday I went out and cheered for the marathon for 5-hours. I froze as I stood there with a cowbell. The team ran great, superb!
Writing addresses; This is what happens when you don't have a staff. Back in New York I am having a few meetings this week that will further project me on this path; to be honest the hospital proposal is lousy. When you read it, not skim, you see it has more holes than a Teabag and anyone with serious money would toss it in the garbage. I have found a great new friend, Michael, who is going to help me get this all in line. He is also helping to look at what big companies might have a vested interest. I also have a meeting with Catherine who won the poker night, she is an architect and is going to help me with the designs for the school I am building. I am keeping this project separate from Shoe4Africa or people will think I am a certified nutter, but it is going great, and I think (hope n pray) I am at 25% of the funding done. I have a meeting that may get me to a lot lot closer in the coming days.
One of the big exciting projects coming up is a partnership with Small Voices - to give gifts to 2000 children. Well it just so happens that kids are starving in Kenya right now, the kind of starving that goes beyond what the word spells here in America. So it looks like we have a truck to go to the bad district, and then buy food Xmas bags of aid to give to 2000 kids... it’s a small step but I am still crying from last xmas day when I remember walking round in Kibera. I wrote about this on this blog last year, I was saying "Happy Christmas!" They were telling me no, no happy Christmas. This year we have no food, how is it happy? When someone comes to the door we'll pretend that we aren't in as we have no hospitality to offer. Imagine on the day you wish, all year to celebrate, instead you find yourself going out to have to beg... When I see things like this I too wish there was no Christmas.
Thanks for talking today, and I look forward to talking in person. However to touch a little on what we were talking about today. 90% of Kenyans will directly ask you to invest in 'their' backyard. It is extremely difficult to get a partisan view of what is needed and where by asking any Kenyan Doctor a direct question. In my experience of years of doing business in East Africa the answer is invariably in the district where they own land/were born/have political influence.
Kenya is the most tribal of all east African countries I have visited, witnessed by the horrific ethnic clashes of 2007/8 that the Nobel Prize winner of Kenya (Wangari) called "Ethnic Cleansing."
With 42 tribes and land issues still being fought over, and at least 30 differing languages it is a nation of mistrust. Every single time you talk to a Kenyan about a project/idea they will tell you the goods/bads and then try to persuade you to do a project in their district. I am guessing, yet guaranteeing you, that the ____worker is not from the Western Highlands of Kenya. Just as the Minister of Sports was not from Nairobi when I asked her for assistance to help with a project in Nairobi. ("What are you doing for the people of my district?" She asked with her first sentence when I was doing a project involving giving out 12,000 pairs of shoes).
The real authoritative voice of Kenyan health surely comes from the Minister of Health, Professor Peter Anyang' Nyong'o. When I was researching the Minister's I talked with the former head of the Rockefeller Foundation for Africa, Dr. Peter Matlon, "You cannot find a better, more impartial man than Anyang." The Minister of health is backing this project, fully, and extends his belief this is the best place for this institution. Not in his home district(!)
Furthermore Khama Rogo, I posted his resume below, also endorses the project. He was so happy to hear that we are partnering with the MOI. (PS: Moi does not refer to the former President, as some people who tend to not like this project think, the word Moi means Heffer in the local language and the hospital we are aligning with was built in 1917!) I cannot think of two better references than Rogo and the minister of health.
I went on for quite a bit but the gist of it was healthcare is needed all over Kenya. But, beyond where you were born, there are areas crying out for help that have all the right components- Eldoret is it. The money in Kenya is in two cities, Nairobi and Mombasa, then comes Malindi and Lamu where the rich jet set go. There is no money or draw to the West of Kenya… and Eldoret is the fastest growing town in Kenya, with over 300,000 people.
Anyway, Khama Rogo's BIO:
* Chairman National Council for Population and Development
* Co-Chair World Bank
* Health Care Consultant World Bank
* Vice President for Africa
* President Kenya Medical Association
* President Kenya Obstetrical and Gynecological Society
* Chairman Centre for the Study of Adolescence
* Chairman and Founder Centre for the Study of Adolescence
* Consultant World Health Organization
The great Woldemar Kostre, the coach behind so so much of the Ethiopian Success.
Big thanks to DECO the football star in Chelsea FC who also plays with Ronaldo for Portugal, although he is originally from Brazil. We have a signed sportscap from him that we'll be giving to a special SHOE4AFRICA Supporter.. tonight!
"He is a genius, just like Zidane" - Jose Mourinho (of Deco).
So I was running around on foot, then it starts raining and I have all these cheques (others) in my hands. I am calling up a football manufacturing place for soccer balls because someone has kindly offered to help 2000 kids with gifts before xmas, at the same time as trying to organize my next race in Kenya, also before xmas, with ordering T shirts, getting the permission from Athletics Kenya and the District Office, and coaching someone, plus I had a meeting at the NYRR about the 2010 Hope & Possibility, a school in Kenya, and many other things, then I get back and I was thinking that I was running the Las Vegas half this weekend, (I needed a qual. time for something) and then someone tells me no you need to do something else there, right at this last minute... so in short it is no wonder I am killing myself softly with razor blades.. and this goes on 24/7. Right now I have to go and find a printer, oh and also find a W9 to fill out for another donation. Then I guess a scanner to get it back... Aiy.
"I am very happy to be a small part of this wonderful project, and I send gratitude and applause to you for directing your time and energy in such a wonderful way. Here's hoping that you will enjoy a beautiful and a celebratory holiday tomorrow ! With warm regards, Steven and Helen." From Connecticut. Thanks so much!
This athlete recently won the World Championships, and has been unbeatable at the half marathon - huge talent, Mary Keitany.
Big race coming up in Oz-land; "Melbourne, Australia - Germany's Irina Mikitenko has been added to the stellar line up to contest the women's division of 15km race around the streets of Melbourne on 29 November. The past two Olympic marathon champions - Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru (Beijing) and Italian Stefano Baldini (Athens) - had already been declared for the men's field.(IAAF)
Gainsaid that I enjoyed our meeting last week. And, I read your book. I not only enjoyed that too (although it is written for real runners, not lapsed “thud, thud, thud” plodders like me). Moreover, I enjoyed it on several other levels: insights into the Kenyan worldview, anthropological and cultural studies (which I have been fascinated by since a mentor in college radically affected my life), I learned a lot about Kenyans (your caring for the people about whom you write is palpable), and the author (one’s choice of subject matter, verbs and adjectives, etc. reveals much about a writer: e.g., going hungry for days on the streets of Amsterdam is simpatico with Paul Tergat’s quote” I know what it’s like to go hungry,” “vortex of shame”, how Robert Cheruiyot “walked on the fumes of his last meal“, and, “I do not want to smear the shadow of these gazelles … .” come to mind.
Speaking of mind, as mankind has learned over the recent past (last few millennia), the seat of a human’s activity, his/her executive suite, is not the heart, but that ineffable epiphenomenon of the brain – the Mind! This is where the “fire” under discussion burns and is stoked, not the belly. It’s all in one’s mind. But not all minds are alike. A glass is a glass dimensionally, but what’s in it varies from pasteurized hormone-filled cow’s milk, to, mursiik. Reality is universal but refracted locally in discrete mind sets. This is something that has intrigued me with respect to philosophy, art and the modern humane substitute for warfare: sports, including running.
I was first aware of Asian martial arts years before Bruce Lee hit the scene in the U.S. I wrote my master’s thesis in Non-Western Civilizations on Bodhidharma, the proverbial monk who both started Kung Fu at the Shaolin temple in China, and, created what is known as Zen Buddhism. Of course, on its face, a runner and a kung fu (or later karate) fighter appears to be someone focused on the physical side. But this misses the true potential, and driver, of both. Physicality is but a means to conquer, not the field of runners or the adversary in a ring (or even on a battlefield), but one’s self. An ancient verse from India says that between he who conquers 10,000 men in battle, and he who conquers himself, the latter is the greater victor!
I witnessed this spiritual underpinning of the martial arts totally commercialized and eroded over the past 40 years in the U.S. It unfortunately didn’t just atrophy here. Your references to Kamariny as “a sacrosanct patch of ground” of the world for Kenyan runners reminded me of the Shaolin Temple. When I went there about five years ago, it had become what I sadly called the “Cirque de Shaolin”. An amusement park where the monks were wearing Nike sneakers! I had trouble (even with a Chinese friend) locating Bodhidharma’s cave where he (according to legend) sat facing a wall for six years, and tore off his eyelids so that they would not interfere with his meditation. The same single-mined doing whatever has to be done as he Kenyans!
With great effort I finally located the stairway to the cave and climber all of the 1,000 or so irregular stone steps (a humbling “Heartbreak Hill!”). Almost no one else was climbing this famously significant part of Chinese history; and, at the top I was virtually alone. Yet Shaolin also reminded me of Kamariny because it is the focus (no longer of using the body to perfect the mirror of the mind, but as a stepping stone for poverty-stricken rural Chinese kids to fame and fortune (as a Kung Fu movie star). There numerous martial arts schools surround the temple, with about 50,000 students, and they exist as an artificial dream fulfiller (for a very few). But, as with Kamariny, it is ground zero for a way to get out.
Despite this understandable but sad commonality, it struck me that the Kenyans have not yet succumbed totally to the “sportification” of their traditionally “life at risk” endeavors, and the requisite mental discipline to this scale of effort. I think that the professor from Moi Univ.’s statement is particularly apropos: “[W]e start life under attack; we fight for everything…. When Kenyans run they are hunters, they are fighters, as they did from the first day that they realized that life is a fight.” Isn’t that warfare, for survival? Didn’t this first start a few million years ago? There is a deep subliminal reason why the highest honor in Kenya is The Order of the Grand Warrior, and not the Grand Herder!
I found it very interesting that so many of the Kenyan runners you quoted (BTW, your knowledge is encyclopedic!!) referred to the desired state of existence (or its negation) as death. Truly, their (not the typical US runner’s) experience is closer to the shaman’s ordeal, symbolic death and then resurrection, the “eternal return” of anthropology. It seems to me that to a Kenyan, with his/her worldview (albeit tempered by pictures of Christ in most huts), running is not only culturally traditional, but also much more in tune with Nature and Reality than it is as a sport. The ancient Shaolin monks or the ancient Maasai warriors, weren’t training for point scoring events.
Running is primal. Unlike other sports, nothing is needed, not even shoes. It’s about a spirit between the earth and the sky: mankind’s thin realm. Running is as natural as standing, and a natural progression of such. I very much liked the phrase: “Movement is the awestruck joy of the body.” Putting the shot, javelin throwing, kayaking, basketball, etc. are all far down the Space/Time Continuum from the eons of pre-tool (and pre-weapon) evolution, which just happened to happen around the Great Rift Valley (coincidence? Or, material factor?). An argument could be made that man first ran in (or around) Kenya. It’s not so far from Laetoli where we have early evidence of late stage upright bi-pedalism (a family walking). Perhaps there a yet to be discovered set of footprints exhibiting long strides?
At any rate, and notwithstanding theoretical distinguishing (and to Westerners excusing and explanatory) factors, such as lean leg muscle, large and extra-springy heel bones, altitude advantages, oxygenation capacity, a hunter-gatherer’s (mostly, from what you say, gatherers) diet, etc, which are used to “justify” the disproportionate Kenyan winning stats, from my reading of your book, these are clearly secondary. The answer is in the Kenyan mind.
It seems to me that (and, of course, there is always an attendant downside), but with specific regard to running, their advantage is that their minds are more “natural” than their American and European competitors. By this I mean there is less post-modern white noise interfering in their lives (sleep, wake, run, eat, rest, run, sleep). They are actually blessed with so little TV penetration; Americans spend 5 hours a day watching the wasteland while Kenyans run. Importantly, and in contradistinction to most others, Kenyans run in space, not time. Time does not, as you point out, motivate them, either in practice or in a race. Rather, winning, that is, to them, “surviving” the ordeal of the “sacrifice”, the “burning,” the “fire”, and “more fire”, is what does. Diversion by luxuries (necessities to Westerners) is absent to these men and women who live (by force and circumstance) in the moment, a simpler more focused, natural moment, a moment not constricted by the clock). Who return, to the animal state and live, “here we live like animals” [Paul Tergat] to train. Training is more like ritual than practice, “Training is sacred…” [John Litei ]. It is where, Moses Kiptanui says, one must die in order to race well. They shed there unnecessary trappings down to their organic essence.
I found it important that there seems to be almost no ego among the Kenyan record holders and champions. Their identity is social, not individual (Harambee?). They are a part of their tribe or nation (not necessarily their political country); something bigger than themselves as individuals. I don’t know how much ancestor reverence plays in the Kenyan worldview but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was significant as the spirit that is common among a “people” is a strong motivating force. The goal is to achieve for the spirit of one’s people. It is the goal, not the gold, that counts.
I have come to know that everything in life is definition. I suspect that the Kenyans have a different definition of winning that we do. Kip Keino’s statement: “Whether one wins or loses over here doesn’t matter” is very ancient Asia. Breaking the tape is merely a confirmation that the ordeal has been successfully suffered through and that the goal has been achieved. Running is but the medium for such achievement and ribbons and trophies are merely tangible recognition. The race is run internally; the true Kamariny, just was the true Shaolin Temple, is in the mind.
My experience with running is negligible compared to yours. However, as with your personal stories in the book, I too have a couple of running experiences that stand out. I’ll recount to shorter and less spiritual. In the early 1980’s I would go to Europe often. I befriended the manager of Merrill Lynch’s Swiss business (in Zurich), who was also an ultra-marathoner. When he learned I was a “runner” (remember everything in life is definition, and his of “runner” was very different than mine – my PB was 10 miles – but a near religious experience) he insisted that I run with him. It was winter and his home was near a trail that one of the big Swiss banks had built as a community gift. My excuse that I didn’t have running shoes was of no avail as he had all sizes at the ready so that no fly might escape his web and imperative to run.
Of course, we did not run together along the path in the Alps. I soon lost sight of him as the course wound through pine trees and snow flakes wafted down through the crisp clean air. Magical! The Swiss are renowned for their almost military and mechanical three D’s, and Fred was a paradigm example, a “winner” by Western definition (ribbons galore). However, what the Kenyans have is, I think, over and above compliance with the technical 3 D’s which Tergat lists. Achieving these D’s is of course a Herculean effort and a laudable achievement, but something achieved by all elite athletes. It is the common denominator among elite athletes (in my opinion as one not admitted to membership in this group). However, come race day there is something special, intangible, immeasurable and unquantifiable that seems to separate those who somehow make the rest of the world-class athletes (not just runners) seem like it’s almost unfair! Like winning the Kentucky Derby by 10 lengths! How could this be?
Part of it seems to be that the Kenyans set the bar high above the test of the actual event (championship, Olympics, etc) and routinely run the test, actually more than the test event) each and every training practice. Belief is the center of their achievement but their belief is founded upon a knowing that they can – because they have already accomplished the targeted feat in the death of their training.
I found the book compelling. It gave me a cat scan of the Kenyan character. It even made me (momentarily) nostalgic about a 10K. I am sure that it helps many an elite athlete and serious runner. However, I note (and agree) that you never say the book informs as to how to be a Kenyan runner. I remember an Olympic coach once being asked “How does one become an Olympic Athlete champion?” His response was: “Choose your parents well.” I feel that if the question were “How does one run like a Kenyan?”, my answer would have to be: “Chose Kenyan parents.” While a non-Kenyan may be able to run “like” a Kenyan, only someone with Kenyan DNA is able to run “as” a Kenyan.
Thank you. Keep running. Keep writing.
Baby Faced attacks the road - Tirunesh Dibaba broke the World record* for 15 kilometres at the Zevenheuvelenloop 15Km in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, today running 46:29
Sunday, November 22nd Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, NY
Women's 5K: 10:30 AM Men's 8k: 11:15 AM Registration begins at 9:30AM
Entry Information and Online Entry at : www.manhattantrackclub.org $15/person until November 20th $20/person on race day
Team entries: E-mail roster to Michael Contopoulos at firstname.lastname@example.org to avoid filling out individual forms
Earlier I had a great meeting with Michael who is working with China on how to get some of the $10B hallmarked for Africa into Kenya. A most interesting chap. Then we went for some legal meetings and met a really nice bunch of people, things are Smiley with Shoe4Africa!
I needed coffee I was half dead, have only been sleeping for 4-hours of late. I jump up and there is so much to do, so many good leads to follow up on. Places to go, well not at 4 in the morning, but y'know...
Oh, and our race banquet was web-cast, just in case any of us want to rush home and watch ourselves! I wonder if it capture me catapaulting a creme puff at Abby? Michelle side swiped it. And guess what? Abby's great-great-great grandfather is the original wet cloth - Mr Macintosh, who invented the raincoat. Go figure.
I also started writing a bit, I got a book offer, but not sure I want to do it. I have this visions of going into a phase of blankness and writing like crazy. But.. Life is bumping too much in the way. And in the most positive sense; two great donations this weekend of $2,000 from Rutgers Church, where I did a talk a while back, and $5000 from a really nice guy Eilon. More of him later.
I also dropped by the party of Anil where it was so nice to see the crew; his sister Monica (who replies to all his FB mail), Super Chubbs was there & the beautiful Cara, Luiz, ChuckyChina, Kev the commander, the Queen of the H Diane, Eve, Pat W, John W, Susan, Sir Alec, Gene... it was feeling like a 6th ST party! Great to see everyone as I have not seen them in an age and a half.
Prior to which I was up on the UES at a restaurant that did not serve Guinness, did not serve coffee, did not serve honey.. called Amber meeting the MDees and Eilon. It was most enjoyable. The Tuna Salmon roll was a bit below par but the edamame passed the test. The waitress was nice at the bar, but the waiter's were a tad grumpy, well one of them to be honest. Not sure why either. Usually there is a reason.
Before that I was suffering from Road Kill, or whatever you call it when you travel long distances in a school mini bus. There is a reason why the aeroplane was invented!
Tomorrow I am heading for the Frozen north, to a place called Finger Lakes. Sounds like they have snow up there?? But first I have an exciting event to go to in Manhattan tonight, to do with Africa and leaders. Should be very interesting. Meanwhile not happy with the ever increasing cold that is hitting us,and so dark, so early.
Rafael de Cardenas, in his debut marathon, ran like a lion and was a great team member for us!
from Michael Patent, "I ran with MORE FIRE and now have Achieved my PR with Sunday's 2:50:08. My times this year are 3:13:00, 3:10:56 (San Francisco) and now 2:50:08" Well done! Thanks for the nice email. Same to Betsy!
Oh my golly gosh, a few days on but in the park today the memories of the race linger. I was standing with R2 and Luiz from Mexico came running up, "When it got tough, I was "More Fire, More Fire!" "
Then I saw my good good friend from Sweden, the man I started running with when I moved to the city back in the early nineties, Anders Szalkai, Sweden's best marathon runner in the 1990's and holder of the Sparet club record in 2:12. My old training partner. Great to see him, I was just thinking about him then boom...
And then with Masami a man called Paul from Ohio came up and said hi, he's been reading the articles over the years... it truly is the place where the world comes to run. Thrice on the course (2 foreigners) came up and said, "Are you the guy on the Last Minute tips video?" and of course running through Manhattan thank you so so much to the local running community for so much support. Funny I was one of the few in our team without my name on the bib, or it written on the shirt, but I felt virtually every ten seconds I could hear someone yelling out "Go Toby" - it meant a lot to me as it was support for our cause.
The day was brilliant, I did not sleep the night before, apart from 3:20 Am till 5:00 AM, but was wide awake as we went out on the 007 bus to Staten Island. We all sat in the media tent till it was time to line up. Then we stood right behind the elite men before the cannon boomed. I tried to be a shepherd to keep the group together, but shortly after about 6-miles the group splintered. I was running with Tegla and she needed a toilet break, so we stopped and people kept on pushing in front of her, so much so I literally had to fight to get her in a port-a loo. No love for the former champ. She was in there about five minutes so we lost the already split up group. So when she popped out we had a surreal moment of flying through the runners trying to catch up the group. Running about 5:30's through people running 9-minute miling makes you really feels like you are moving, especially when a former winner, and a Kenyan, is on your shoulder!
We caught up Anthony and Sarah Jones. Sarah was telling Tony to take off his cap in an effort to try to make people recognize him, which he was doing when we hit patches of the crowd. We tried to pull the group together but in doing so lost Tony but caught up with Wams (Waweru) and Gabby (Salvado).
Michael Patent, James Legros, Samantha Tannehill, Gabby Salvado
So Tegla, Sarah, Wams and I ran up First Ave (where we bumped into Lenny Mantz) all the way to 102nd when Wams got a bad back and slipped back one minute.
Sarah's goal was to break four and Tegla and I were pulling her along; she was up for the task - we crossed the line in 3:54:02 with Sam just two hundred meters in front and Wams a couple of minutes back. James Legros, from Mercy NBC, left us at the start and in the holding area at the finish I bumped into him; he'd done a superb debut of 3:29! He jumped on to our team in September! George Hirsch, wearing bib #75 to mark his age, was running in with Amby Burfoot (a legend of the sport) and Billy Rodgers (#2 legend) and George (on our advisory board) came in in 4:06, just ahead of Tony in 4:08. It was a resounding team success. I think we had about thirty runners with super stories like Roz's 40-minute PR etc! ("Hello Coach: So I just ran the NYC marathon for a team called S4A with a time of 3:51:34 - this was a new PR as my only previous marathon was Chai Lifeline last January where my time was 4:31. So I was just shy of boston qualifying and still have a bit of an itch for that. I was originally planning to run Miami half marathon.)
photorun: Victah sailor. On Fifth Avenue, three miles to go!
Today looking at the Cancer issues in Kenya. It is a disease on the upswing of late, especially in younger people. There is a chance that we hook up with Kenyatta Hospital for some Awareness events. Part and parcel of the hospital concept is to cover the bases of all diseases. Before the untimely departure of Paul Nichols of Team continuem we were looking at an Oncology Wing. I am now hoping that it is something that the Jeff Gordon Foundation might be involved with, that reminds me of something I have to follow up with.
Help, please; I am trying to build Africa's largest children's hospital!
Yes, on Nov 1st I will be wearing hospital scrubs and leading a group of runners including Anthony Edwards ("Goose"), James Legros ("Mercy"), Sarah Jones ("Bridge & Tunnel"), Tegla Loroupe (First African lady to hold the World Marathon record, 2X NYC winner), and a host of other heroes as we set off on a 26.2-mile Odyssey. NONE of us intended to run a marathon at the start of May. But the reason to do so is too compelling - Kenya does not have a single public children's hospital, and 80% of the kids who die do so without ever seeing a health care provider!
As most of you know my full time job is my charity I started in 1995, Shoe4Africa. What began as a hobby back in the 90's now is a job - albeit without a salary. I add this as I need you to know that I am working towards something because I believe in its purpose more than I believe in anything else right now. Since giving away a pair of shoes (and being arrested in Paris as a vagrant) I have moved to health drives, to women's empowerment (holding the biggest women's only races in both Kenya & Tanzania), to Education (sponsoring school fees and building a school!), to the Environment with a plant a tree campaign... We are now involved with Malaria awareness and teaching, and then there is also our women's soccer team in the heart of Kibera (the second largest slum in the world)
In fact it is mind boggling to think of how far we have come, on so little! From a completely personal standpoint this is also one month off my tenth anniversary of nearly being killed in Africa for a shoe; four separate doctors told me it was a miracle I survived... so all in all this year's marathon is pretty special for me. In fact my first race of significance back after brain surgery was completing the NYC Marathon ten months later to raise $10,000 for Fred's Memorial Sloan Cancer team.
Funnily enough that attack was on Dec 29th 1999, and on December 29th 2007 I nearly got killed again when the violence erupted in Kenya and people were being macheted, shot, and burned to death in the worse event of Kenyan history; the 07 Post Election Riots (600,000 displaced in one month!) Twenty miles from where I was staying a few days later, on Jan 1st, the 'rebels' drove 50 women & children into a church and torched the building... it was that kind of crazy. That was also the start of this event, the hospital.
I have too many stories for an email but it breaks my heart seeing things like a child arriving in a wheelbarrow to a hospital, seeing a mother explain that she wants 10-kids as she knows 5 will die, to know that the preventable disease of Malaria is claiming 3000 children deaths a day in Africa (not one in Britain for 13-years), and half a million deaths from measles per year.
I see these kids first hand, then a day or two later you hear they died, it kills you. Especially when over here in the West we spend more on "lifestyle" drugs than on traditional medicines, and America spends more on Obesity and "not eating" related medicines than Africa (three times as many people) does on health care. or should I say can afford to spend...
I know the economy is tough, and most of you plucked from my address book, have probably been hit up by marathon fund raisers by now but I am asking, in the true Shoe4Africa get-involved style, to do it one of two ways;
#1. If you have time, please donate ten dollars using the PAYPAL link on our homepage www.shoe4africa.org then forward this to ten of your friends that you think would help put a brick on our all of fame.
#2. Just give a donation.
Please remember that we are a 501 C3 charity, and all of your donation goes 100% to building the hospital.
Thanks for your time, and even if you choose not to support please try an option #3 of forwarding to friends!
~Asante Sana~Thanks~ http://www.shoe4africa.org
Moving to Harlem! What a time to move. I love it. People in Harlem say Good day on the street, they smile, they greet you and welcome you to the neighborhood. Did I ever tell you when I baked cookies and offered them to neighbors on the upper east side, just off Fifth, in the nineties? Let me tell you I was doing the Mary Antoinette and eating it myself!
So a few days left. I decided to quit the beers for the rest of the week, until I saw Beck's on extra price at Duane Reade, and just happened to have my DR card for the first time ever, I mean that is fate right?
Hospital conditions in Eldama Ravine. That bed is bent permanently. Please help support our marathon efforts!
One week to go. OMG. I was hoping to adjust my diet accordingly, but last night it was an 18" pizza and five bottles of beck's. Lunch five cinnamon raisin bagels, and for breakfast, three slices of junior's cheesecake. Running fuel?
Today's dumb moment; I needed air in my tyre (tire) so I started chatting as I was filling, then boom. Kind of a good job as the walls of the tyre were falling to pieces so I was using duct tape. Call it an anti theft thingey.
Continuing to run up and down. I dropped by the NYRR for some stuff, and was nice to see the crew, can't believe it is one week to go. The Achilles still has charity entries if you need them... For me I am dreaming about mid November. Talking to Kenya, Sleepy is doing fine in Iten, Kibera is still as is. Biz goes on there - as far as the hospital I think I have whittled the architects choice down to two groups now. Martin Lel is also going to help me when it comes to the materials... looking forward to seeing him next week.
I have strapped an air horn on my bike's handlebars now, it is classic! Everyday is a new eye opener.
My new friends! Matt Goss, and just check out a video from when he was younger CLICK AND Robin from the PussyCat Dolls fame. Really nice people, and watch out for 2010 when we get our project together. BROS were huge, huge in the late 80's in Britain, and his voice is just beyond.
Still running like a madman, all over town, up and down, I covered 32 miles on my bike today which is a lot for inner city commuting.
Great article on George Hirsch in the NY Times today wit a really good pic. In fact last night I was also doing a photoshoot in Central Park, but (sigh) as a featured coach to another person, for a Dutch newspaper, albeit the biggest newspaper in Holland. kool beans, I have a lot of Dutch friends - used to live there a long long time ago, In A'dam! Erm, before my athlete days.
We are now near $520,000 and still climbing. No photos posted as late as I have been virtually living out of a suitcase of late. Born a Gypsy, die one too. Things continue to be super crazy, all converging to ultimate madness. I heard that when Tony was on the today show it was a big success. He is now in California for a couple of days.
Then we met the guy from Funnyordie.com is it? Anyway they do funny videos and he is going to do one with Tony. Following which I cam back to do some work, then got an email with a chance to meet Lauren from the Millennium Promise villages, so I went and we had a meeting at Bottega vino on 59th ST. A long talk about all our energies - looks like I might be relaunching the Beauty4Africa idea!
Set up a haircut with Rodney - Cutler Salon - best in the biz, he is back from Dubai (celeb haircuts out there).
Everything goes on!
The flight took forever. How can it take 5hrs to get to Vegas? And no food on the plane? How nice it was of Tony to bring two sets of airphones! Luckily we'd grabbed a couple of grilled shrimps and a couple of beers at the airport. At the Tapas bar.
There is huge black blingmobile to take us to the hotel. The driver was really nice from Guinea, been here since the early nineties, was living in Tampa with family first, trying to save funds to go home.
The hotel was tinsel and hyper red; the Encore, owned by Steve Wynn. And we got in the Tower suites no less, so no complaints there I can tell you. APART from $14 internet access per room??
We then went to dinner, even though New York time it was now half over midnight. An amazing Social media guy called Brian Solus joined us, with Chrystal & Natalie. The wine Somnelier was trying to recommend wine that cost $200 to go with red sauce pasta, I was like are you kidding? Every type I asked about (Shiraz, Merlot) he'd find a bottle over $200. I mean two shovel full forks of the red sauce and you aren't going to be sniffing the wine. I was not content, then I spied a good Californian merlot from napa for $40. About 2:30 AM a guy called Dashel came who is an Internet whiz, about 4:00Am Tony was gambling $20, and about 4:30 AM we hit the sack (luckily only 1:30AM Vegas time).
The next morning we took coffee (can you call it that? No) at the pool side as the weather was gorgeous. The ambiance was only ruined by the continual love-boat styled music that followed you wherever you went. We then went to the BlogsWorld Convention.
We sat down at a table with Jane Fonda & Janet Jackson's media person, and Jermaine Dupree (who has a record label, produces music & has something to do with Janet). Then a guy comes over and sits down and I start chatting and I have a great conversation about Europe, America, Africa, we chatted about so much, he used to live in Tribeca, you could tell from his stories that he had done a lot in life, then he told me he sold 170 albums. A most interesting guy, very compassionate, humble and also wants to help giving me kids books for my hospital project. He was describing his and lows, how he was brought up and what not, his name was Matt Gos and he used to be in a band with his brother called Bros.
Also sitting at the table, who I talked with later, was a woman called Robin. Another really nice person, and our energy was she started a rock group called The PussyCat Dolls back in '95 at the same time I started S4A.
We took a taxi for lunch with another wizard, whose name eludes me now, but the driver was a real talker, he came from Greece and was a Spartan. He was like, "Guess my age guess my age?" So I did, 71, and he was "72" that ended that conversation but he switched over to buying a diamond ring for $4000. We ate lunch (I had French fries for a starter) and granola and yogurt for the main course. Then we went back to the convention to chat & I met loads of nice people and had a fun fun day.
We came back to the hotel and whilst Tony took a nap I went out and ran for 70-mnutes. It was so nice to run in the hot weather again after the shitty weather in NYC of late. I ran on the side of the road which was kind of boring, but better than getting lost or stuck going round in circles; the heat had all the difference; brill.
At 1am we went to meet some people at a nightclub called XS where we stayed till 4:30 AM. Hardly worth going to bed, but we woke at 6:10 AM by the limo service driver saying "You are late!" Down the room phone. Out flight to NYC was at 7:10! Unbelievably we made it and the whole day was on the plane. We met Jermaine Dupree again when flying through the airport, the absolute last people to check in!
Dick Traum, the founder of the Achilles, is a very kind guy. He has always offered the Achilles doors if I need a printer etc. So I set off in the evening after coaching F.I.T. on the track. On the way I stop at a friends' house. She is moving, so I get caught up in helping there, and it gets too late. I try to print out the doc at their house, but it is in the latest version of Word and their Word can not open the doc! Instead I answer 200-emails and copy another 30-donations down. I get up at 6:30 and go south 4-miles, and do the print out. Then I go uptown, stop at my apartment, have a cold shower and dress as lightly as I can. The reason for this, as it is freezing right now, is I am going to run with the client for an hour, then it will be a mad dash to get from 90th and Fifth to 54th and Third in ten minutes, so I will not be able to shower and I don't want to go to the meeting (in a Hedge Fund Office) all sweaty. The plan works fine, I even get there a minute to spare, and for once I remembered some photo ID to get in the building.
The only drawback? I leave the meeting and not only is it freezing but now it is raining icey rain!
As soon as I get back uptown and shower I get a message from my friend who has left the keys at the old apartment and can I go down and pick them up, so I go all the way back down town. Before such I deal with a 'few' marathon team problems, have a nice chat with a New York Post journalist, talk with one of the girls from the soccer team, answer as many emails as I can from one account (I am afraid to open the other), fix my calendar for the upcoming, write in some appointments, realize that at 12-o'clock I should have been at a function for the Millrose Games... listen to 15 voice mails and delete all of them by mistake without taking down the numbers, sort out some RSVP's, and some marathon bus issues... and try not to think about the fact in 15-days I have to move apartment myself! Now there is another headache. In fact why am I writing all this? I should be opening up another computer where I have the pics and emailing our logo to the James Bond style fund raising team we have for next month! Oh yes, and of course not having the internet does not help the progress!
In the women's race only two women beat 2:40; 1. Beata Naigambo, NAM 2:31:01 PB 2. Lydia Kurgat, KEN 2:31:26 PB
The Russian Rocket had a great day nabbing 1st & 3rd place in the women's division.
Good article, and why the heck has Bob Dylan not got a Nobel prize yet, for literature OR Peace? And what about Gandhi? No prize for him my friend.
All about looking good, raising profiles, and playing the game.
I think Obama should stand up and give the award to someone a bit more rewarding, and if there is no one more rewarding we are in a sorry state of affairs for the world. I think think of awards that Obama should get but in the production of World Peace at this conjuncture of his career? The Nobel Prize committee show their true colors god bless the Queen.
And of course the bigger one is the World Half. The top five men in the world this year all come from the same country. I wonder who will win the tam competition.
Lunch at LAND. I tell you Second Ave is a dump, all construction from 96 to 82! The whole area is a continual building site, and has been ever since the city has become super-pro for developing. Buildings higher, taller, more, noise etc etc. the neighborhood has lost its neighborhood. Anyway LAND was a great Thai place but although the dumplings were great, and the Singhi beer (is it?) the Shrimp Pad Thai was a tad dry compared to what it used to be. The place has become much more popular than it used to be too.. maybe that is why, they are now hurrying the dishes. 6/10 for Thai on the Upper East.
At EAT today on Madison and 81st - boy does it get noisy in there. I like the raisin bread they have on the table. We had a three hour breakfast, weak coffee and a fair salmon omelet. But as I say the bread is good, I wish I had just ordered a loaf of the fruit bread. Coaching the Flyers in the evening and it is so depressing that it is now dark! Gosh winter is here.
Then I had to go to pick up a special order of boots for our Nairobi Boss, meanwhile juggling the emails... well the day started out nicely enough; we ran in the park anad did 10-miles! Aiyah, I can't wait for all this to finish!
One funny thing is I am new to the charity work, also I don't fit in with the 'big' groups. On the day that Hillary Clinton was commending the Kenyan Government for dealing with the refugee camps in Kenya, and being able to successfully close them all... I was up in Eldoret Refugee camp with Dr. David Feldman, a S4A Board member, with approx. 5000 people still living in a refugee camp that seemingly does not exist. Flippin' mind boggling. Here's some of our friends there.
Got me thinking, what with the passing time too, and then I suddenly realized it has been a decade since I first went to VCP for a race! How time flies. Well, give one month. The event was the NYRR XC Championships. I went to the race and was talking to Stuart n Stacy, and that was the first time I signed up also to run for CPTC. The gun goes off, and I am like where do we go. There were no marshals. So I ran behind this runner called Tesfaye Bekele for the first 5km. I was super surprised to see the stuts in the forest on the hills. He was short so it was hard to see them coming up too. Then I left him when we came out onto the flats and at last I could spy the finish area. Was it really November 1999?
#2 At the Clinton Global Initiative I was not invited but went there for a few meetings. When I went up to the registration desk to get a day pass the lady behind the desk, "Ah, you must be the football mascot."
Talking charity today it was in mid town at the ever supportive Thomson Reuters. Thanks for a $5000 donation. Kiet the Pirate, who used to feature on this website a lot more in the old days when I character names Il Pirata, set this one up for us.
First off I gave a talk n running. Now I used to do this every week virtually for schools, colleges, clubs running & otherwise, marathon groups etc, but of late all the talks I do are S4A so it was a switcheroo back to the old days... then we showed the S4A film, and then Tony & I talked about the project. We were on the 30th floor of Times Sq which is eyeball level with the ball that falls ever Dec. 31st! Funny that it is there the year round! It was an amazing conference room with a view right up 7th Ave to the park, one of those I wish I had a camera days.
Sweet Haircuts: fast legs
Speaking of golden moments - it was Sid Howard's 27th consecutive 5th Ave mile, I think they should rename the race Sid's mile. I met Sid on Friday and he told me of the therapy he'd been through to make the starting line.. wat a warrior.
Out on the street Ted Turner is standing at the traffic lights waiting to cross the road. In our little coffee shop Steve Martin is at the table. And these are the ones being pointed out to me, imagine all I am missing.
Crazy, I went to my gym and the locker rooms are all closed, why? Because the Prime Minister of Israel is there. That is a bit much, the gym was closed last weekend because of Jewish holidays, will be closed for more Jewish holidays this weekend. C'mon!
Anyway through all this we are making some absolutely fantastic contacts for our hospital. One with a guy called James who we met at the exchange could be unbelievable. Funny when I was going to the upstairs bit there was security, I walked bit but was asked, "Are you the mascot?" Hmm.
Another example of resourceful Africa. There is a drought in Kenya, and a food shortage. Okay, it is not the best, BUT... here you can see people are putting stems of Kale down into the street side drain in an Urban built up area of Nairobi to grow food to survive. Help Africa with opportunities that we have the overload of.
Orlando Pizzolato is running again this year, to celebrate his 25yr anniversary. Fra After 15-years America's most successful Hospital TV drama, with over 120 emmy nominations, comes to a stop. At its peak ER attracted over 20-million viewers per week. Although the show has come to an end... The good doctor runs on, to build Kenya's first public children's hospital. Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) will be running the ING NYC Marathon this November 1st and asking, "Would you pledge $10 to get a brick for the hospital?"
Joining Edwards will be Tony winning actress Sarah Jones, "TV Doctor" (Mercy, beginning on NBC Sept 23) James LeGros, Double above the knee amputee and world amputee record holder for the marathon Richard Whitehead, and Two time NYC Marathon winner and United Nations Peace Ambassador,the first African lady to win a major marathon and set a marathon world record Tegla Loroupe.
There was a host of interesting people there talking,and it was my first time to hear the economist Jeffrey Sachs speak. The good part was I tended to be in line with a lot of what he was saying. What I was not in line was all these projects in Africa have such great partners for funding, well you can't have it all, and I did not have my cheese cake.
In the morning I clocked ten miles with Sarah as we progress towards our millennium goal of the marathon, now only six weeks away can you believe.
Martin Lel, and the first man to run a Sub-60 minute half marathon, Moses Tanui.
Nice review, "This is Toby Tanser's third book on Kenyan distance running, the other two being Train Hard, Win Easy, published in 1997, and a revised 2001 edition. He is uniquely qualified to write about Kenyan running. He lived in Kenya for 6 months (1995) and is a professional runner himself. The East African dominance of world distance running remains unchallenged and exceeds the reign of other of history's national dynasties such as Finland, Hungary, New Zealand and Australia. This book explores the various theories on this dominance and rejects most of them. Altitude, poverty, genetics, performance enhancing drugs, all are examined and dismissed. Readers looking for the secret will not be disappointed though; it's the ability to focus in an uncluttered environment (no cell phones, TV's, DVD's, play stations), a love of hard training followed by more hard training, a belief in doing whatever it takes, and an inherently optimistic nature.
"All these characteristics are developed in a life that Paul Tergat, former world record holder at the marathon, describes as "sheer hard work and persistent hard struggle, especially to get the basic necessities of daily living." Mr. Tanser's treatment of his subject is thorough, if not exhaustive. The book includes chapters on a brief history of Kenyan running, training, diet, coaches and over 100 pages of profiles on all the prominent Kenyan middle distance and distance runners. Mr. Tanser has done a terrific job of illuminating this subject and book collectors should note that his other 2 volumes on Kenyan running, now out of print, are selling on Amazon.com for over $100. More Fire is not for collectors though, but for distance runners and anyone in that category will be inspired by Tanser's account of the ferocious simplicity of Kenyan running."
By Geoffrey J. Wilhelmy "Boxing Fan" (La Crosse, Wisconsin). Thanks, and PS - Don't forget that 100% of the author royalties go to Kenya, to support the building a hospital campaign.
The Iten Men's & Women's soccer team getting football boots from Shoe4Africa.
I had just run ten miles with my training partner, Sarah, and was cycling back home through the park and saw this giganic line leading further than the marathon....
Dining - Begoylu always top notch, great food, good service - Tony and I were out and about looking for a parking space, buying his daughter a bike, dropping off clothes for charity, and eating a Veg Platter, two grilled shrimp plates, a couple of Effes beers, and loads of Turkish Bread.
Next up it was OTTO with Mary down on 8th St off 5th Ave. Thumbs down for the rotten cheese doorway smell, amazingly planned? The air conditioning was on Planet Greenland, but the PIZZA was great - I went for the Funghi albeit that it reminded me of the lobby smells. Service was so so nothing to write about... The sparkling water was as flat as Holland, the Arugula salad was pretty one dimensional, in fact the cherry toms that made it two should have been omitted as they looked as if the chef had sat on the box....
Good news for Kenya - Kitwara gets a place in the Kenyan team for the World Champs Half - guess who is going to win? looks like a Marakwet! Thingey is also in, whatshisname 'red' as they call him in Kenya who was also banned from the WC team. What a shame Kitwara did not face Bekele in Berlin huh?
Over crowding often leads to a kitchen, living room, and bedroom being the same place in the Kenyan slums. Hence a young child falling into the cooking fire, as was for this little cheerful one!
Shoe4Africa soccer team update; Report from Cantar, "The girls soccer team played JOHN PAKARD FINALS and managed to retain their title by defeating Riruta environmental group from Satelite by 4-0 at Undugu ground.Scorers are Lucy Akinyi-2 and Judy Akinyi-2.The matches attracted a huge audience and the girls got a strong support.Have a nice time and enjoy your time." WAY TO GO, they are such a wonderful team!!
Then we went down to an ID-PR meeting, more shoe4africa stuff on trying to plan for PR around the marathon...
Good news - Serena & Venus won the doubles!
Talking of great Kenyans I heard from Great Tegla Loroupe, the legend of all Kenyan ladies, she has been in England running in Newcastle, and is now back in Germany, her home from home.
Glad to see that Kitwara says he will not run a marathon for a while, it would be fab to see him develop as a 10,000 runner instead of doing what most doing and trying the marathon as 'Bekele' is seen as unbeatable. Going on the theory of the great Haile, which I agree with...
But 09/11 - how eight years has flown by. I remember that day, it was oh so sunny. Down in Wall St Prudential have a building with their trademark umbrella and for some strange reason it was lit. Linda, my friend who I was running with, pointed it out, "How odd." It is unlucky to have an umbrella up when there is no rain. We finished our run going to the World Trade Center area, then back up to 4th ST. Then I was meeting Lieng Seng and half an hour to kill, so I thought about going to Century 21, but by the time I was passing C21 I thought I would be rushed, so let me go east.. and a mile away, half an hour later with Lieng Seng - boom.
What a day, so sad and meaningless in the harmony of the world. Terrorism, the worst of the worse.
I had an apartment on West Broadway, maybe 200-meters away from the site, and I was not the official signed resident (was looking after it for a friend whilst she was in Switzerland), and going there was like visiting a war zone.
A year later, on September 11th I organized a peace run in Central Park. It was a beautiful evening, over 100 of us ran together for six miles. NYC is a place of resilience, and I remember thinking of that night about the empowerment of running, and how it is an oxymoron even to imagine that the people who planned 9/11 could have been runners,a s through running comes so much hope...
What are you doing on Wednesday 16th? Mark your diaries & support one of the nicest guys on the NYC running circuit... Our own Terence! read on, Vince August & Terence --
From Terence "Show info: Carolines on Broadway, address is 1626 Broadway between 49th and 50th Streets. Please call 212-757-4100 to make reservations. When you call tell them you are seeing me "Terence Gerchberg". Then the show is only $5 per person plus a two-beverage minimum. Showtime is 7pm on Wednesday September 16th, (show up by 6:45pm if you want a good seat), show should be done around 9pm." Go on, go for it!
But the very big superdooper news that had me smiling all day.... Thanks, thanks thanks to Hal & Stacey Kelly for their $30,000 donation to Shoe4Africa's hospital fund. Wooooweeee!
The album is available at Oreade's website: By clicking here**
On that subject - Lille, where Virginie F. comes from(!) who is a sub 2 800m runner from a decade ago (I wonder what she is up to now) LILLE HALF- 1 KIBIWOTT Stephen KEN 59:37
2 CHANCHIMA Jairus KEN 59:43
3 KIPLAGAT Evans KEN 59:56
Women 1 KEITANY Mary KEN 1:07:00 2 ERKESSO Teyba ETH 1:08:39 3 WANGARI Myriam KEN 1:10:47 - does Kenya rule the half or whaaaa.....
Funny story that the Simba had with Mary when Simba was setting the world record (and Mary came #2) that was in Udine, Italy. Anyway, Simba was not in shape that fall after resting for 7-weeks and thought she'd try a road race to check her form.... a long story, but a fun one, and one that resulted in a WR for Simba. And Stephen Kibiwott, great to see him doing so well! How many Kenyans have run a sub 60? Toooooo many.
DAVID RUDISHA RUNS WITH MORE FIRE Get the book at Urban Athletics in NYC or online at AMAZON.com now -- ALL proceeds go to charity, the author does not make a penny from the sales of this book. On the day of the Olympic fial I was talking with David about the WR and I can tell you he is going to get it... without a doubt.
Please help build the first public hospital for children in Kenya.
Talking NYC I was on the streets with Global stopping village people to get their photos - he got a couple of Gems. That is the East Village for ya!
Over in Kenya Pastor Steve and his ministry in the Korogocho slums just outside Nairobi is something out of a movie. Steve is a reformed thug whose ushers and choir girls are former prostitutes. Pastor's who stand up and speak are also reformed criminals. It is that kind of place. The congregation is just as colorful. They come, they cry and they weep. When they confess it is not for the usual sins, when I was there (sneaking in at the back stepping over a kid with a glue bottle stuck to his lip) a lady came forth and asked for forgiveness. There was no crime she had not committed, including the biggest. Recently she had seen her children burn to death and had been in a drugs stupor not really caring for their torture.
Other's came forward and talked about drinking bottles of rat poison to try and end terms of misery. But here is the story first of the Pastor, in his words.
"My name is Pastor Steve and I would like to share my testimony about my life before I was a pastor.
Pastor Steve in Action, Purity, an Usher, behind.
"I was a thug brought up in a slum area of korogocho a place where poverty reigned, a place where many things used to happen. The korogocho slum is a slum well known in Nairobi, and that is where I was brought up. In my family, we were eight children, and while growing up, we were very poor. My father had no job and my mother also had no job and what happened is that my mother used to sort out the trash at the dumpsite, because where korogocho is there is the Dandora dump where all the trash (and toxic waste) of Nairobi ends up , and this was about 50 meters from where we lived. Because then of its proximity, my mother used to sort out the gunny bags and soap which she would then resell for her to be able to feed us. But that was not enough as apart from food, we had other needs like clothing and this contributed a lot to our poverty status in our home. My father was a drunk whose work was to sell changaa (illegal alcohol) or to cook changaa and get paid for it but bring nothing to the home.
"I and my brother, who was younger than me, loved going to school but could not afford it. A good Samaritan paid for our school fees and we were able to go to school, but he could not afford all our needs. I attended a school called ndururuno primary school where I was able to study until class four, but could not continue as my school clothes were torn and I had a lot of shame in my life, and as I hardly ever ate, we used to struggle with hunger even in school. I decided to leave school, but before this my younger brother left during class three, and why he left was because of hunger and poverty that had arrested us in our home and so when I got to class four, I also decided to leave school, and when I did leave I decided to join my mother in the dump, to collect the same trash she did.
"When I got to the dump, I became a parking boy, thirteen years of age at that time and I primarily collected plastic bottles and anything else that could generate income. I used to sell this and get a little money which I would then take home for use, but also spend a little on myself for my own uses. My goal was to help my mother and help our family because I used to pity myself and pity us at the life we were leading. We were living in a single room, eight children, and if you add my father and mother, we were ten in that room.
"What happened was that while at the dumpsite, I started to eat there, until I was sixteen still collecting trash and thought to myself that it was better for me to join a group that was at the dumpsite. Around the dumpsite were various groups with names and this groups were so formed because the lorries that came to the dumpsite to drop food, or to drop other stuff to be trashed. The group took up a whole lorry to empty because as an individual, you have no rights to a lorry unless you are part of a crew. Each crew had its own time to service a lorry and I thought it was a good idea to join a group because I saw that they were earning money. I then joined a group called "yamacheezy". There were many groups with different names for instance "macheezy," another group called "mau mau" and many other groups with different names in that dump site. When I joined the "yamacheezy" group, I was sixteen years, and I was welcomed and became a part of the family and worked together with my other group members.
"I discovered when I was working with them, that amongst them there were thieves, or thugs and their work was to go to houses and steal. They used to go to estates, steal from the houses and come and hide the stolen property in Dandora around the big forest (now it's no longer there as the land has been developed). They used to hide the stolen property there, and us like the young kids in the group, would be used as couriers to ferry the goods from the hiding place to the thieves homes in korogocho or in kariobangi, and through this whole process they used to pay us.
"I discovered with the work they used to give me I would earn more in a single trip than what I would get a whole day collecting trash at the dumpsite. I joined them and we started working together. They used to go and steal and we would then take the things like televisions and household goods, and bring them to korogocho where they would then be sold. As we worked together, I discovered that even among the group were gangsters who used actual guns, and I envied their lifestyle, because where I used to live, I was desperate and everything around me was desperate also, and so I had to do desperate things.
"Another thing that motivated me to follow these gangsters was that if you looked at where I was born and brought up, if you looked in front of me you saw drunkards, if you looked behind me you saw prostitutes, if you looked to my left there are gangsters and if you look to my right there are drug dealers. That is where I was brought up. I know that what you see around you is what you become and so I was sure I would become one of this four sides. I longed to become a gangster because I found myself in cahoots with other gangsters, and I asked them to help me so that I could raise the standards of living in our home. My goal as I had said was not to raise my own living standards as I was still very young at sixteen years of age but to see my whole family living comfortably.
"To this effect, I talked with one of the leaders of the gangs, and asked me whether I would be able to do the work and I told him that I would. I told him it would be good for him to come and visit my home to see the abject poverty that we were living in and see where he could be of assistance. He agreed to do so and when we went home with him and saw how we lived, the single room and the eight people living there, and the poverty staring at us in the face he decided to help me. He told me that he would help me and that was the end of the conversation then. The following day, at the dumpsite, I met with him and asked him where he had reached regarding my concerns to join his group. He told me that he had sat with his group and after much discussion they saw that I was not a match to the group but, he would give me a pistol and he wanted me to use it and work and lift my family to riches.
"So he gave me the gun, and he told me to "Take the hoe and start farming for your family" and when I took the pistol (please understand I had never stolen) I had wanted to learn with the group and so I was very confused as to where to start. I took the pistol and wrapped a paper bag around it nicely and I went and hid in a toilet that was near my home. For nearly a week I did not touch the pistol as every time I wanted to carry it, I was defeated as to where I would be able to use it, where I would begin because it was very new to me and if I had started out by joining the group it would have been easier for me. But now I was given the gun, told to go farming, told to make my family rich and I did not know where to start.
On a certain Saturday, I remember very well I had gone to the dumpsite, at Mukuru, and I was doing some work collecting trash, and when I did I was paid seven hundred shillings and my wish was just to buy blue jeans. I decided on that day that I would go to the market, and buy a pair of blue jeans so that I could be able to wear them. On that same day an evil spirit came into me, and I found myself taking the gun and carrying it to the market. I was not going to steal but I found myself carrying the gun all the same.
"Understand, I was wondering how to do this new work with a pistol, and I even went to the extent of going to watch videos at the local video houses for five or ten shillings. I watched mafia films, theft and army films to figure out what I was meant to do with this gun, and at the end of the day I found myself carrying the gun and off I was to the market. I found myself at the market and it was a busy Saturday called "Soko Mjinga" and I stood and looked around and my eyes landed where women were selling potatoes and putting the money away into plastic containers called "Kasukus" and when I saw that money, I felt a voice talking to me (and I know this voice was for the evil one, the devil) and it said to me "you have been looking for wealth, wealth is here". And at that time I had the pistol, and I said to myself that I had to take that money though not immediately, as I went to and fro, trying to decide how to take it. I remember very well it must have been during the third or fourth round when realized I had removed the pistol and had shot into the air above the people in the market place, and when I had done that, I told everybody to lie down. It was only good luck that nobody refused this command and all of them lay down and I took the money putting it into a paper bag.
"It was a line of 'kasukus' of women selling potatoes, and also some men and I went down taking the money and putting this into the paper bag and everybody was still face down as I did this. On the other side of the market, there was commotion as everybody was trying to run out of the market, you know the retort of a gun has a certain effect, and everybody was running. I continued putting money into the paper bag and hid my gun and started my journey back home.
As I was going home I witnessed that everybody in the market was acting seemingly confused, and nobody knew who the gangster was, or who had robbed them because even as I was walking home, passerby's were asking me what was wrong and I was telling them that I had no clue as to what was happening. So I found that I had reached our home, and counted the money and found that it was more than thirty thousand Kenya shillings and I called my mother to tell her, "Mum, I want to tell you something. And what I want to tell you is that today I collected money. I went to the dumpsite and I have collected money." Because my mother did not know I was a gangster, she knew I used to collect trash at Mukuru the same way she used to collect trash and she could not for the life of her think that I had entered the life of a thief. When mum counted the money (she has passed away) but I remember very well her saying "God bless the work of your hands," that's what my mother said and I gave her the money. Mum said that since they had never had a bed or household furniture, it would be good to buy this household items and I remember on that day we bought chairs for the house, and the house looked like it had had a face lift, it actually looked like a house.
"We were staying in one room then, but next door was another room (by the way the rent on these rooms was Ksh 200 (less than three dollars per month) but we were unable to pay for it. I remember before I brought home the money we were in arrears of three months rent and we were being chased away by the landlord. What happened was that mum paid for the room and took the next room and so we had two rooms. From there the evil spirit found dwelling in me and it said to me "you see, this is the only way you can raise your parents. This is the only way you can help your parents. Look at how you did not have furniture but now you have bought, had one room and now you have two".
"My heart trembled. I was young and I still looked at the concept of family the way we can stand together. I believe we were very poor as we lived in a poor neighborhood and our neighbors thought we were very poor and so you can see how very poor we were. So what happened from there, I became a gangster original, and I started forming my own gang, and I remember very well that I started to form the gang of four people and from there we started stealing from people's businesses, we started following business people and we started stealing a lot of money. It reached a place where we started joining other groups of gangsters and moving into town (Nairobi city) to do robberies in town and in short this is how I then came into my salvation.
"When I entered into this life and became a gangster, (in fact today if I went with you to korogocho or the place where I was raised you would be amazed because most of the people, even though you see them coming to church, many came to confirm that it was true I had gotten saved, not because of anything else). Many of my followers even today, follow me because seriously they know me, the way I was those days. I remember during the New Year in korogocho, I used to stand outside my house, say happy New Year and shoot my gun into the air and so people knew my life history in korogocho very well. They know how I was a gangster, how I used to do many things, until I reached a place when I was one of the most wanted gangsters in Nairobi and the police reached a conclusion that they would gun us down if they ever caught us.
"I remember one day we had a mission at Serena, and we were meant to snatch some money from a certain person who had Ksh 1.5 million ($19,230), and we were meant to do this as a gang of four. When we were told all of this, it happened that we arranged to get into town at four pm so that we can grab the money at around five pm. I was coming from korogocho and my fellow thugs (who had invited me to help them as they were the ones with the contract) were coming from Githurai and so that day I spent it cleaning my gun in preparation for our meet. I had never used drugs in my life and God had helped me throughout even in my dump days to keep away from them. The way people inject themselves with drugs and indulge in drugs was no reason for me not to act or go where the other druggies were going. You would have thought that I was on drugs too by the way I used to behave but that was not the case.
"On that day whilst getting ready, (I don't know what happened and that is why I say that when God does come, he comes in many ways), I found myself indulging in drugs. There was a base near where we lived, called level killer base, and they used to sell all kinds of drugs. I went to the base and drunk a drug called Hitler and it was a pill that you would divide into two to take twice. I wanted to go on this mission when I was high. I took the pill, carried my gun and I was off. When I drunk the pill, I remember becoming confused because I looked at my watch and saw that it was four thirty but the truth was that it was only two o'clock. The drugs I had taken convinced me that I was running late. I called one of my sisters who was studying at St Georges (I was the one funding her education then, but she dropped out when I got saved as I could no longer afford it and so we brought her to our lady of Fatuma where she finished her education) and she carried it for me in the matatu, from Dandora to town and before long I found myself in Uhuru park.
"When I was in Uhuru Park, please note that Serena is only a few yards away, I discovered that I had arrived very early and it was only two thirty. I was meeting the rest at four o'clock to finish preparing for the mission. We did not know this at the time but the mission of robbery was a set up from a rival gang. If I had continued hanging around Serena I would have looked suspicious and I was armed at that time. I told my sister to go home and I would see her later and looked for a place where I would wait out the remaining hours to the mission. When I looked and saw many people at Uhuru Park, I thought that this was an advertising campaign going on as the stage looked very large. At no point did I think that it was a crusade. I decided it was a good place as any to wait out the time, and I went towards the back of the crowd trying to blend in though there was still a crowd behind me. I discovered that this meeting was in fact was a meeting for the evangelist Teresia Wairimu who I had never heard of or met in my life. This was in the year 2000.
"As I was sitting there, I saw a lady going up to the podium and she started prophesying. This is what she said. "Amongst you there is an armed gangster, and God is telling me that if he is not going to get saved today, he will die today. He is a man of God." When I heard this I trembled as I had never heard nor witnessed anything to do with prophetic words. I was shocked and started wondering who the lady was talking about, even going to the extent of thinking that there must be some other gangster in the congregation she was talking about. Seated behind me was a group of ladies who started talking in the vernacular language saying, "If this man only knew, that whatever this lady says God talking through here and she is never wrong, he would present himself to her". When I heard this, I became very uncomfortable and I decided to flee the crusade. I started heading towards the front looking for a way out, and throughout all this time, Christians were crying and praying to God all around me that the gangster would show himself. I was still trying to find a way out when the lady on the podium called me by my full three names "Stephen Gichuhi Mbugua. The person refusing to come up is called Stephen Gichuhi Mbugua". When I heard that, I knew that today was the day. When I looked at the ushers and the security team, I thought they were members of the flying squad as they had worn suits. I started thinking that this had been organized by the government and they already knew I was here and I knew that I was trapped. I always knew that I would never surrender, I would shoot my gun in the air then take off or find another way but I would never surrender. I felt a voice telling me to remove my gun, shoot in the air, have the crowd in a panic and dispersing and find my way out in the process. Another voice was telling me to accept the situation for what it was and to believe in the evangelist and surrender to her at the front. And that is what happened. I found myself walking to the front where the podium was. Before I got to the front to climb the metal barrier just before the podium, the evangelist looked at me and said "Yes, it is you," and she came down from the stage, took a hold of me, put me in a Mercedes Benz back left and then accompanied by other pastors, she took me straight to the central police station. I surrendered my gun. I was actually on the floor and in a daze during this period and I heard the cops asking, "Where have you gotten this gangster who we have been looking for, for a very long time?" I heard the lady speaking and telling the cops that I was not a thug, but a pastor who would be working under faith evangelical ministries. Clearly it took time for the evangelist Wairimu to convince the boss that I was changed in my ways and that I would stop being a gangster and lo and behold I was being released after signing some papers.
"Later on I learned that my fellow gangsters had all been fatally shot. It had been a set up by a rival mob. I was then taken by the evangelist under her care (she did not allow me to even go back home) and I was sent to Mombasa with other young elders of the church, for one month for training purposes. During this month I was taught how to pray and I remember thinking that it was the hardest thing to do as I had never prayed before. We were staying in a PCEA owned hotel and looking all around me from morning, I would see people in various forms of prayer and even talking in tongues. I was very confused and very baffled and all I could do was to just tell Jesus thank you, for having saved me repeatedly. That is how my work for God started, with a thank you. We stayed on for one month and during this time, I felt I had a burden to preach to others, to reach out to others, and God talked to me specifically about reaching out to gangsters, prostitutes and drug dealers as I understood them because I used to be one of them.
"With this path in mind, I started training under evangelist Wairimu for four years and my work at his term was servitude. It ranged from wiping of seats for the service, washing the wet areas, sweeping the church, helping out for the crusades at Uhuru park etc. what was really happening was that every prophet who came to the church, be it international or local, poured blessings on me to be knowledgeable, and they all said to me that God was calling me into the ministry in a way that had never been seen before in Kenya. My ministry would be aimed at finishing crime and prostitution in this nation. I did not understand what God was saying to me as I was still very young in my salvation. Every prophet who came in always had things to say about me, and they saw the big things I was intended to accomplish.
"After four years I did get the calling to the ministry and this became a burden to me. I shared this with the evangelist Wairimu and she told me to go back to my base in korogocho, and to start a fellowship. Through this fellowship God would start showing himself to me and leading me in what I should be doing. The first fellowship I led had many challenges. The evangelist Wairimu had been kind enough to give me a sound system and a worship team, but korogocho slums was still a place where at that time the police did not even patrol. I remember thinking that I would have been killed. I held the fellowship in a hall I had rented and everybody in korogocho came to see me preach in that meeting. My challenge was not in the people of korogocho but in the gangsters who I had worked with, as they thought I would betray them and give them up. They did not understand what church or fellowship was and because to some of the gangsters I was their former leader, and to the other gangsters I was a friend, they decided to kill me before I could do any damage.
The service was amazing in this way -At the end when I made an altar call, and asked people who had been touched to raise up their hands and receive Jesus, the whole congregation raised up their hands to receive Christ. The spirit of God was in the church and God's presence was felt by all. It was a humbling experience. On their way to steal and kill me, the gangsters got into a fight amongst themselves. Turns out there was a group supporting me, and another one wanting to still kill me. Because of the indecision amongst the gangsters they left me alone and I was not harmed. The fellowship continued successfully for a time on every Wednesday until God spoke to me to have a place of worship for Sunday. We then built a church which evangelist Wairimu opened and this stands here to date though it is a little small for my growing congregation. (a corrugated iron hut on poles).
"That is where my ministry started. My congregation consists of ex prostitutes, ex gangsters and ex drug dealers. This is the ministry I was chosen by God to come into, to change lives here and to seek his blessing here. May the name of the Lord be praised! (thx to Karte for the transcribe).
Rumor has it the five kilos he has lost are a result of him stopping his "nightly tipple" of vino. Hm, that is quite some tipple.
A legend of the two laps - Pamela Jelimo.
World Champion Shorty runs with Sleepy on her shoulder, as happened in the World Champs.
AND talking community service I heard that the Harlem 5-miler is short of volunteers. They only need ten and I have said Hakuna Matata we'll do it... So, please help out the running community, if you are able give me a shout for Saturday 19th- please!
Speaking of racing! Big bucks - Thanks to Masami who is backing Shoe4Africa (me) with $1000... if I win this race it will be a minimum $3000! BUT Chubbs has given up alcohol, training and looking in good shape. I begin m training on Thursday! or planning to!
Meet the top scorer of Shoe4Africa. Lucy. An amazing person.
There was a family. First mother died, then the father. Then the elder brother from a sickness, then another brother from sickness. the last brother looked after the three girls. Then one day when he was walking in Kibera he met a friend. The friend had stolen something. A mob came by and recognized the thief. they stoned the 'friend' to death and, as fate would have it, the brother got caught by the flying stones and died.
Now Lucy looks after the remaining two, and yes, also her niece too. Lucy hopes that I will build the hospital, as then she can have a job.
Sleepy Sylvia Kibet just after qualifying for the World Champs.
I texted Sleepy and asked, "Please bring back a medal."
She replied, "I will."
She did, Silver in the 5000m! So happy for her!
The Shoe4Africa Women's team in Kibera. Photo by Elvis.
THE KONCHELLAH LEGACY CONTINUES...
If you look at it this way, Konchellah, who won the 1500m was born and was bred a Kenyan. He has a Bahrain passport, lives and trains in Kenya... As far as I see it Kenya went 1, 3, 4, 5 in the men's 1500! Can Kenya run? Ok, a little different for Bernard Lagat, but would he have won if born Bennie Lagat in the Bronx? That is for you to surmise!
The Flying policeman, finally getting his World Champs Gold.
There is much good in Kenya though, and the spirit of the people is tremendous. The church in the East Leigh Slums where all the badness of Nairobi is condensed, yet in a simple structure. Wooden rough hewn posts with corrugated iron nailed loosely to the poles. There is an array of broken plastic chairs where the guests sit and a makeshift altar at the front of the church. Entering the church you step over street boys who are half passed out through sniffing too much glue. Purity welcomes you at the door, she is an Usher and takes you to a seat. She is stunningly beautiful and smiles with angelic charm. She later tells you that she used to live from Friday till Monday in Nightclubs �taking advantage of men.� The pastor, Steve, is a reformed thug who used to rob people with guns, �Here all people find a home, they know there is no judgment on them from the Lord and they feel they have a home. All my ushers were prostitutes, the choir too. My male men in the choir? They were gangsters like me, there is nothing we have not done.�
In the service the Pastor asks if there are any open confessions, a woman comes forward and tells that there is no drug she has not touch, or any crime that she has not committed, �I was the worst gangster, and, (she starts crying) I let my two children die, burn, in a fire in my apartment.� She gets the church�s blessing and returns to her seat.
�Is there anyone who has been feeling suicidal?� About ten women come forward and the Pastor recognizes at once a couple, �You, again? I remember when you drank a bottle of rat poison! What is the problem now?� The girl, young and in her teens like most, faints on the floor falling back onto the startled front row of the church chairs. All ladies are crying. You sit there taking in the scene wondering if you are in a movie, and a wink and smile from Purity makes you realize this is everyday life. Twice a week the congregation who barely have two stones to rub together meet to feed the orphans of the slum, �Don�t ask me how as we never have the money on Tuesday, somehow we manage to collect enough to buy food for 400-orphans twice a week.�
Orphans, Kenya is full of them. The other day we visited one of Kenya�s most famed runners who has taken a boy from the East side of Nairobi, in one of the poorest orphans homes and is giving him the chance to live the life of luxury and try and become a runner. The boy is so humble, and polite, you cross your fingers he will make it. He feels that he has already made it.
Meanwhile an orphan in the wild, meet Mary Wambui. She is just twelve and was going to school in December 2007 until the post elections violence. She was chased from a burning home in Burnt Forest. Since then she has not been to school as her parents were not so lucky, they were killed. Today she walks to the nearby town and washes clothes and pots till she makes enough money to buy potatoes. Nobody pays her much, she�s 12 for god sake. She walks back from town to a tattered white canvas tent donated by the Red Cross back nearly two years ago. Temporary living, right? The tent is way past its sell by date. She cooks a meal for her two younger siblings who have been playing at the camp with the other young children. This is daily life with no foreseeable change for Mary who has graduated to mother & father at the age of twelve.
Two of Kenya's finest - Robert Cheruiyot running in Berlin on SATURDAY, and Duncan Kibet, running in Berlin in September.
Today in Kenya I was at the Java Coffee Shop ALL day with Sally, just sitting, eating talking, and planning S4A things in Eldoret!
The day before we were running in Ngong. So beautiful up there, peaceful as well - it is athlete town, almost like Boulder in the USA there are so many runners. So my stay in Kenya is coming to an end. Soon I will be back in NYC. Speaking of which I heard that Paula Radcliffe won the half this morning, hm, I guess she will not be running Berlin Marathon. Big celebrations here for Linet Masai of course, Linet lives in Iten, along with her brother Moses who will run in the men's 10,000m tomorrow. Kenya is expecting great things, and they barely survived the drama of Janeth falling in the 800m - thank goodness they reinstated her!
Good news - Rita Jeptoo, the Boston winner in 2006, has given birth yesterday to a baby boy. She has some incredible stories from the last couple of years, forget even growing up!
After lunch we played darts in Robert's garage. I threw only one good dart! Talking Berlin, the man who is running the 5000m whose name I have forgot, Ebuya, used to be a cow herder till he was discovered by a former OLympic Champion, "Can you run??" The rest, as they say, is history!
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