Sunday, 25 June 2017

A walk around the city with Eliud Kiptanui just after he won the IAAF gold label Ottawa Marathon


A marathon fan once told me that a high number of marathon runners, after finishing a race, do not care much to know the name of the runner who won the marathon. I respect the fan's opinion. However, I think I got a new perspective this weekend (28th of May 2017) on this as to why that may appear so and why it could not be as it appears.
It could be true that many marathon runners approaching the finish line minutes, or hours, later, after the victory ceremony is done, may not know the name of the winner, but it doesn't mean they do not want to know. Perhaps all they want at that time in the world is just but something to eat and the quickest way to get back to their homes to rest.
I did not plan to walk around the city of Ottawa with the newly crowned champion, but it just happened in a way that no one may believe as it was too coincidental, but I will tell it anyway. It seems that everything happens for a reason.
At around 4PM, I got bored of being alone in my hotel room at the Ottawa Marriott Hotel, a hotel that was part of the sponsors of the race and hosted elite runners, and so decided to come out and see if I could find some company. I was just in time to stop Nicholas Bor, who also had nowhere in particular to go, just as he was about to
enter the lift. Eliud Kiptanui also came out of his room, found us standing and asked if there was anywhere interesting we were heading to, and so the three of us decided to go out of the hotel and walk around the city.
Earlier on, after the marathon, we (Kenyan athletes and one coach; Joseph Jeromei) had finished having a luncheon with Kenya's high commission to Canada staff, including the High Commissioner himself, and most athletes went to their rooms to rest.
And now as we walked around, we would see that most of the people in the streets had participated in the marathon too, judging from the way they dragged their legs and had race back packs. It was hard for us to hide our identity as Kenyan runners and many people would ask to take a picture with us. Not many would recognize Kiptanui as the winner of the big race and I was enjoying myself seeing how they reacted whenever I or Bor pointed out to them that they were not actually taking a picture with a random elite athlete from Kenya, but the newly crowned 2017 Ottawa marathon champion himself.

Having travelled around many cities around the world for races, both Kiptanui and Bor found the general public on the Ottawa streets to be so kind, cheerful and very welcoming. Another thing they observed is that the Kenyans living in Canada also look more stable than some Kenyans they would find in other countries. Well, most people requested to take pictures with us and we were happy to let them do that.
Kiptanui is a very humble athlete and cares so much about how others feel, one little boy asked to take a picture with him just after the podium celebrations and not only did he agree to do that, but went two extra miles by giving the boy the flowers and the head crown! The ten year old boy, Devlin Taillon, has an interesting connection with Kenya, is a great fan of Kenyan athletes and is also a young aspiring runner. I met the boy later in the evening with his mother and saw how happy he was and how much the flowers really meant to him.
In the end, I learned that marathon fans love elite marathon runners as much as the elites are also happy when they meet and interact with them.