My first ever 42km experience at the Nairobi Marathon in 2013

With ten minutes to 7am, the 42km wheelchair race began while we (42km runners) were asked to approach the start line slowly. The event was being aired live in a number of TV stations and knowing that it was close to the start of the 42km event, some journalists in a helicopter seeking to take an aerial view of the start of the race hovered so close overhead and we could hardly hear the announcer counting down the remaining seconds. With a white scarf, some officials tried to wave to the pilot to move away, but to no avail.
I saw the starter aim his gun upwards...almost towards the helicopter! I knew the time had come. I wanted to make sure my watch will start well, so I started it some seconds before the gun went off. The gun went off and we dashed forward to avoid a stampede.
For the first two kilometers, as usual, the pace was very high as athletes struggled to take vantage positions in the leading pack. The pace then slowed down a bit as we approached 5km but finding the crowd at the lead too large and inconvenient to be in it while tackling corners and picking water at the aid stations, I felt comfortable running some few meters behind them. I found two other friends from Eldoret who liked my pace and we decided to do it together, crossing the 10km mark in 31:50. If only we could maintain, ours was the best pace to take the marathon. Unfortunately, we lost each other before 20km.
The 11th edition of the Stanchart Nairobo Marathon in 2013 started outside the Nyayo Stadium with the first half of the race covering much of the city streets while the remaining half took us (the athletes) past the stadium to run two loops on the Mombasa highway before returning into the stadium to cross the finish line on the 400m track. Being the biggest marathon event in Kenya, everything came to a standstill for a few hours of the morning in the city as over 21,000 participants comprising of men, women and children from all walks of life took to the streets to support the 'seeing is believing' initiative that works to eradicate avoidable blindness in children under the age of 15 years.

Determined Runners

 
This ebook, first of its kind, written by an athlete who has lived in the same training camps, trained and shared the same experiences with these athletes for over ten years now, may change your perceptions about the world beating runners, after you learn how much they sacrifice in their training.
Running, especially long distance, is one of the most challenging sports in the world. Besides taking many years of training, it also needs maximum perseverance, dedication, discipline and daily hard work on the part of the athlete in order for them to finally get to shine.
Perhaps that is what defines and separates the Kenyan athletes from the rest. Once they decide to pursue a goal – running for this case - nothing will stop them until they achieve it. Their strong determinations see them through hard daily workouts, waking up early in cold mornings to run, injuries, skeptics, taunting long runs and other strenuous exercises, among other challenges.
Not only are Kenyan runners determined to win, but they are also willing to give it their all. They are so hungry for success to an extent that some of them even appear to be willing to die trying as evidenced by some instances where a number of them have had to crawl to the finish line in some international marathon races. Hyvon Ng’etich crawled to the finish line at the 2015 Austin Marathon after collapsing with about 50 meters to go, but still made it to the finish line in her condition.
Here are some of the topics being covered in the ebook:
-Why Kenyans are great runners.
-How Kenyan athletes go for their long runs.
-Individual versus camp training in Kenya
-Training at Kaptagat, Eldoret
-State of track facilities in Kenya
-Foreign runners training in Kenya
-Kenya’s dominance in long and middle distance running
-Kenyan athletes’ efforts to fight doping

Could Japan be shaping herself to be the world’s superpower in athletics?

Suguru Osako of Japan
2018 has seen a number of unexpected surprises from the Japanese athletes ranging from the middle to the long distance races. Yuki Kawauchi won one of the world’s biggest marathon; the Boston Marathon in April. Among other surprising performances by Japanese athletes in the 42km distance was at the Chicago Marathon where the little known Suguru Osako beat the likes of Abel Kirui, Galen Rupp, Geoffrey Kirui and Bedan Karoki, among others to finish on the podium in a new national record of 2:05:50.
But more interesting to follow will be Nazomi Tanaka of Japan who won gold medal in the women’s 3000m at the IAAF world u20 championships in an exciting race where fourteen athletes out of the total seventeen who finished the race registered their personal best times. The two team mates from Japan; Yuna Wada and Nazomi Tanaka, had ran a well calculated race to ensure that they won the gold medal for their nation.



Soon after the gun went off, the Japanese pair had started to break away from the rest. In many of the distance track races, when a less known athlete breaks away from the field, no one takes them seriously as they would soon falter and get overtaken as the race progressed. The two girls crossed the first 1,000m in 3:00.55, about 50m ahead. It was almost in an even split that they crossed the 2,000m point in 6:03.19. The gap was almost constant and it was beginning to look obvious that some of the pre-race favorites had not taken the two girls seriously as a trio of one Kenyan and two Ethiopians began a frantic chase to try and catch up with the Japanese.

Should top elite athletes from Kenya run in the local races?

Peres Jepchirchir and Gladys Cherono. Photo from the Ottawa Race Weekend
At this year's Family Group (half) Marathon in Eldoret, Joyciline Jepkosgei, the world record holder of the women’s half marathon just won the local half marathon race here. She was followed by the 2014 Commonwealth Games’ marathon champion, Flomena Cheyech for 2nd place while the reigning Paris and Lille half marathon champion, Antonina Kwambai settled for 3rd place. This was just the Family Group’s Eldoret half marathon, a race that is not even in the process of trying to get into any IAAF label!
Almost every race in Kenya adds to their other various reasons for staging their races the intention of discovering and nurturing the local upcoming talents. But, the hard question comes in on whether such races should allow the well-established runners to run against the budding talents whose hopes are to beat them despite often running in the wrong shoes in order for them to be noticed by agents who will eventually assist them, if indeed to nurture them. One athlete was running with track spikes on the tarmac during the 21km race today. The elites use these races to gauge their readiness for their next races while the upcoming athletes are using it to try and get a break-through in their life’s careers.
Allowing big names in these local races are beneficial in a number of ways. It attracts more sponsors to support races financially in the hope that such names will help market the races far and wide and eventually the companies involved as well. It provides a platform for the upcoming runners to measure themselves up against the big stars and know how far they still need to go in order for them to shine too. It makes work easier for journalists who would just look up the internet for information about the winners.  It also brings more fans to the event venues as spectators would want to see the international stars that they usually watch on TV sets running live.
However, some issues come in as well.
Big managements usually require athletes to finish in the first three positions in the local races in order to sign with them. When the top three positions are swept by athletes who are already in good managements, then the upcoming runners will lack the opportunity to be recruited into the same managements who would support them with the necessary finances and facilitation to get into the big races that will help shape their careers.

Why professional athletes with East African origin are being sought to represent other nations

Photo courtesy of the Nairobi Marathon
If a journalist, a doctor, a farmer, a lawyer or any other professional is free to seek for greener pastures out of their countries, I do not see any good reason why runners should not have the same freedoms to move to a country where they believe their services will be more valuable and appreciated and settle there. Running is a profession just like any other.
This month, Kenyans continued to show their supremacy in long distance running by winning a number of races around the world, including the Chicago marathon, the Amsterdam and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon where Brigid Kosgei, Lawrence Cherono and Benson Kipruto, among others, won, defended both the men and women titles, or set new course records. This shows the surplus of talent available in Kenya alone, without extended it to the rest of the East African nations of Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia
There were some fans with some concerns last year when two Turkish athletes, Kaan Kigen Ozbilen and Can Yasemin, won the men and women European cross country titles and their origins were traced back to Kenya. Some fans seem to be uncomfortable with the fact that athletes with an East African origin who have changed their citizenships and now represent other nations are winning races for their new nations.
However, it is hard to pin-point the exact reason for the discomfort. Is it the fear that the East Africans are unbeatable? Is it the issue of unleveled playing field? Or, is it an issue with feelings?
Some runners have begun steering away from the notion that athletes with Kenyan origin have to be avoided in races for them to win and the results can be seen: USA’s Shalane Flanagan just beat the women’s marathon record holder, Mary Keitany to win the New York City Marathon; Galen Rupp beat the two times world champion, Abel Kirui to win the Chicago marathon while Sondre Moen of Norway beat Uganda’s world champion, Stephen Kiprotich to win the Fukuoka marathon.
In Kenya we import foreign professionals/experts to work in the medical, marketing, construction and in many other fields and many ends up becoming Kenyan citizens. Why can’t we allow other countries to export athletes from us too?
After all, we have thousands of Kenyans moving out of the country to work in other jobs too, ending up changing their citizenships in the process. At the moment, many Kenyans have changed their citizenships and settled in Australia, others have joined the US military. So, where is the problem with changing citizenships for sports’ purposes?

The 2018 Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon happens this weekend and here are my thoughts on it

Athletes running in a past Nairobi Marathon event
Being arguably the biggest marathon in a country whose athletes dominate the whole world in long distance and road running, it is hard to understand why Nairobi marathon is not part of the biggest marathons in the world. It is further fabling to learn that it is not even one of the IAAF label road races.
The Nairobi Marathon, despite growing and increasing the registration fees each year, still offers the same prize money it used to offer ten years ago. A new race, the Eldoret City Marathon that was just established this year, could manage to pay double that prize for the winners despite the registration being free and still in the early stages of trying to find sponsors to join it. Nairobi Marathon can attract the world’s best runners and get more recognition internationally if it would do something about its prize money structure.

The Lagos Marathon in Nigeria, for example, offers a lot much more in prize money despite knowing very well that the money will likely be won by an outsider. Prize money won in the Nairobi marathon is often invested back in the country, and the more reason why the prizes should be increased.
For a race to qualify as an IAAF label race, there are a number of standards to be met. The Nairobi marathon meets most of them, from road closures, to measured and certified course, to availability of water and aid stations, among others.

Why every professional athlete should have their own website


It is encouraging to see many professional athletes beginning to create social media sites to interact with their fans and websites to put up their biographies, their achievements and the projects they are working on, among other information. In the near future, it seems it will be so easy for anyone to learn more about any athlete that wins a competition by combining their names into a URL address and seeing all the information they will need to know about them and all their sponsors in one place.
Below are some of the reasons why every professional athlete should be having their own website by now.
1.       It helps the athlete put up all the information about them in one single place.
Professional athletes have social media sites: Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, etc. But, a perfect platform that with include all these in one place and any other information that the athletes would wish their fans to know about them is a personal website.
Some of my favorite athlete websites are Usain Bolt’s www.usainbolt.com and Mo Farah’s www.mofarah.com and Vivian Cheruiyot’s www.viviancheruiyot.com .
2.       The athlete should benefit from their hard work and no one else should capitalize on their name and sweat.
The last time I checked, the sites that use the names of some of Kenya’s greatest athletes; for example Eliud Kipchoge and Asbel Kiprop, have completely nothing to do with the runners, and nothing even to do with running. Some domain names are parked for sale while others are online shops for some products not even related to running.
While it is hard to tell who the unknown people benefiting from the athletes’ sweat directing traffic to their sites are, the simplest thing to do for the athletes and their agents is to establish their own websites in their names. Pace Sports Management is doing a good work on this so far with their athletes.
3.       It helps the press, media, fans and race organizers to find information about the athletes more easily.
Instead of looking up for information of an athlete from the search engines, the best place would be on their websites where you will get everything about them, including stories out of their performances such as the projects and charities they support and their training.

Another one of the new emerging betting sites in Kenya


BetYetu is a local, Kenya-based sports betting website that gives players the chance to enjoy sports betting, with a strong emphasis on football, basketball, and tennis, via a straightforward bet slip. Everything is designed with simplicity and functionality in mind, providing a user-friendly experience. To get things started (as a new player), you can get your multi-bet betyetu bonus coupon code and then proceed with the registration. Once finished, you may start betting on your favourite games and sports.
BetYetu offers the following promos/bonuses:
Acca Insurance Offer. You place a multi-bet of, at least, 5 selections on any football-related market. If you lose one game, you will get your stake back in the form of a freebet.
EPL Goalless Draw Money Back. For goalless draws on EPL matches, players get free bets equivalent to their stake. This applies to single,pre-kick off bets.
Lucky Friday Bonus. Every Friday evening, players that have placed, at least, one bet during the week get free bets.
Monday Deposit Play Bonus. Players that have used up their first deposit (or a part of it) that was made on a Monday are awarded a BetYetu bonus that equals to 10% of their first deposit (in the form of a free bet).
Multibet Bonus. If you place a multi-bet with a minimum of five legs, you can boost your winnings from 15% and up to 60%, depending on the number of bets you have placed (max. 15 bets).

Should you make a decision to visit Kenya for your long distance training?


Many foreign runners have made a decision to visit Kenya for their long disatnce training and has resulted in great changes not only in their careers but lives in general, Zane and Jake Robertson of New Zealand are some of the perfect examples. I am always here to help you just in case you will need to make the decision to come here and train. check my contact page and give me a shout and we see how I can help in terms of getting to Iten, Eldoret, Kapsabet, etc; pick up from the airport, accommodation options, training groups to join, etc. You can as well check my ebook: Ideal Places to Train In Kenya for more information.
As a foreign or a local athlete, it is always much cheaper to rent a house and cater for yourself rather than live in a hotel while training in Kenya.
You should not worry about where to find training partners here. You will be spoiled for choice as there are so many training groups, all you will need to do is wake up at around 6:15 am, you will see hundreds of athletes warming up outside. Go out and ask what they intend to run and settle for a group that is going to do the time that pleases you. Alternatively, you can enroll yourself into one of the camps where they will take care of all your training and accommodation needs, but this option will be expensive.
Ten years ago in Kenya, when an athlete got lucky to be enrolled into a training camp, it meant a lot to him, or her. It was easier then to get races, and there was also enough sponsorship in the camp to ensure that the athletes lacked nothing for their upkeep. With time, these camps have begun to suffer from mismanagement, lack of enough funding, athletes changing managements and poor public relations. This has ended up in athletes preferring to train individually at their own destinations of choice, or with smaller groups.

New betting sites coming in with new appealing offers to sport fans


Betting is now a rapidly growing sector within sports. Many betting companies are sprouting up with each one trying to make them more appealing to the public as the competition increases. And, besides the government taxing the industry to get money for nation building, many charities as well benefit from these betting companies. With the new offers coming up every now and then, it is harder for betters to choose which site to subscribe to.
For example, online betting with nairabet offers many great offers to anyone who registers as a member. Some of them are as follows:
-          Nairabet will give you a 10% Cashback of your potential winnings up to a maximum amount set in their terms and conditions
-          Place bets on 1x2 on any Premier League match and win when the game finishes 0-0
-          If your ticket gets spoiled due to one game, Naibet has your back.
-          You get to decide when you want to cash out during the match
-          A nice offer that doubles the odds of those who bet on Lucky 13, 31 or 63
-          Nairabet customer care teams are readily available to offer excellent services to both local and international gambling enthusiasts.
-         Nairabet Affiliate Code 2018 is a promotional offer added to the Nairabet registration form. It is used to reward you when you go through Nairabet registration. Currently, one popular offer that caught our eye is surely Monday Funding Madness. All you have to do is to fund your account on Mondays between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and you’ll get 10% bonus of the deposited amount in less than 24 hours! It sounds great, doesn’t it?

My one time interview with Canada's Reid Coolsaet when he arrived in Kenya to prepare for the world half marathon and Rio Olympics in 2016

Photo by Reid Coolsaet as I drove him past Eldoret town to Iten
"Enda mbele moja kwa moja hadi mwisho wa njia,alafu ingia mkono wa kushoto."
That was Reid giving me directions in Swahili to continue straight forward until the end of the road, then turn left as I drove him to the High Altitude Training Centre in Iten on Wednesday the 20th of January 2016. He had been to Kenya seven times before. That is the reason why he has learned the Swahili language and has also made many friends around.
As we approached Iten, he seemed to recognize almost each and every athlete doing their evening run beside the road. At one point, he quickly brought his hands to his mouth to form a megaphone, stuck his head out of the car window and shouted, "Cooray!!"
One athlete running beside the road looked at us and waved happily. The athlete was none other than Anuradha Cooray who holds the Sri Lanka national records on road distances from 10km through 21km, 25km, 30km, 35km and 40km up to the marathon. Before going out to break some of these records, he had been training with Reid using Reid's training program and advice. That put's Reid as a great coach, besides being a great runner.
The other person in the car was his friend, John Mason, also a marathon runner who had travelled with him from Canada to train in Iten. I learned that John was a dairy farmer besides running when we had to slow down to let some cows cross the road on our way from the airport and the topic about cows sprang up. On the other hand, Reid just runs. "All I do is run, I have no other work besides running," said Reid.
Reid aims to represent his country in the marathon at the Rio Olympic Games this summer. There are no trials that will be done to select the marathon team, only the fastest three runners will make the team and Reid is currently the fastest Canadian marathon runner with 2:10:29, the fastest time by a Canadian runner in the last 40 years and the 2nd fastest time ever by a Canadian runner.
But, before Rio, Reid's other major race will be the IAAF world half marathon championships in Cardiff. "All my training up to the time for the world half marathon will be in Kenya," said Reid. He also says if he finds a convenient 10km road race preferably in England some time close to the world half, then he will consider going for it as part of his tune up to the half marathon.
I took the opportunity to ask him about his girlfriend and when they plan to make a family after he had also asked me about my family. "We are getting there," he said. His girlfriend likes running and has a personal best of 17 minutes in 5000m, but due to the fact that she works full time she hasn't found enough time to continue training.
After dropping them at Lorna Kiplagat's camp, I went out to briefly meet another friend there in Iten. As I was heading back to Eldoret, the two were already there doing their evening run beside the road and slowing down to say hi to other athletes on they were coming across. I expected that they were going to lie down a bit after such a long flight all the way from Canada.

Kenya's Ednah Mukwana and Rebecca Korir highlight the women's elite field for the BLOM Bank Beirut Marathon


Beirut, October 11, 2018 - A decorated international field spanning seven different nationalities will battle it out for glory in the elite women’s race at the BLOM Bank Beirut Marathon on November 11, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

Though Kenya and Ethiopia are well represented it will come as no surprise if the title goes to one of their East African rivals, with Eritrea’s Nazret Weldu set to make her debut at the distance. The 28-year-old has slowly moved up in distance over the years, from life as a 400m runner in her teenage years to a half marathoner in recent years.

Earlier this year she finished 26th in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia in 71:45 and if she carries that form to the full marathon she will be a force to be reckoned with in the Lebanese capital next month.

Kenyans Ednah Mukwana and Rebecca Korir are also sure to feature. Mukwana has a best of 2:30:24 which she ran to take victory at the Zhengzhou Marathon earlier this year, while Korir has a best of 2:29:16, which she ran to finish third at the Rotterdam Marathon in 2016.


Another who will be in contention is Lithuania’s Raza Drazdauskaite, a three-time Olympian who clocked 2:29:29 to finish 26th at the London Games in 2012. She is also a 69:08 half marathoner at her best.

Belarus’s Sviatlana Kudzelich comes in with impressive form at the shorter distances. The 31-year-old was a European indoor silver medallist over 3000m in 2015 and earlier this year she set her half marathon personal best of 71:45 in Prague, while she will make her long-awaited debut at the marathon in Beirut.

Ethiopia will have a trio of strong contenders in the form of Almensh Herpha, Medina Deme Armino and Nigist Muluneh Desta. Herpa took victory at the Lagos City Marathon on her most recent outing over this distance, while the Ethiopian has previous form at the BLOM Bank Beirut Marathon, finishing third in the race in 2016.

Armino has been enjoying a breakthrough year after lowering her PB to 2:33:17 when taking victory at the Treviso Marathon in March, while Desta lowered her best to 2:36:54 when finishing third at the Shenzhen Marathon last December.

Another potential champion could be Kazakhstan’s Gulzhanat Zhanatbek, who finished 14th in the marathon at the Asian Games in Jakarta in August.

There will also be a strong local contingent, with Nisrine Njeim, Nadine Kalot and Hiba Traboulsi hoping to make an impact against their international rivals. Fellow Lebanese elite athletes Chirine Njeim, Nadia Dagher and Zainab Bazzi will tackle the half marathon, where Njeim will be targeting the Lebanese record.

Athletes will compete for a first prize of US $15,000, with an additional time bonus of US $10,000 available if the winning time is under 2:25:00. There is also a bonus of US $3,000 available for a course record of 2:28:38 or faster, a time that was set at the 2017 edition of the race by Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba.

Wesley Korir to run the BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon on November 11, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race


This is a press release from the organizers of the Beirut Marathon:

Beirut, October 3, 2018 - Kenya’s Wesley Korir will be the star attraction among a loaded men’s field at the 16th edition of the BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon on November 11, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.


Korir, a winner of the Boston Marathon in 2012, has not raced since April 2017 but after taking time out from his political career in Kenya, the 35-year-old is planning to get back to winning ways at next month’s race in the Lebanese capital.

“Everything is going well, I’m trying to get in shape after politics and run full-time again,” said Korir. “Getting a win in Beirut will give me a boost for me as I get back to the top level.”



To succeed at the BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon, he will have to be near his best. As a previous winner at the Boston and Los Angeles Marathons and a runner-up in Chicago, Korir may be the most accomplished athlete in the field, but he’s not the fastest.

His personal best of 2:06:13 dates back to October 2012 at the Chicago Marathon, but in Beirut next month he will take on Ethiopia’s Bazu Worku, who has a best of 2:05:25 and was a winner at the Houston Marathon earlier this year.

Worku ran a world U20 marathon record to finish runner-up in the Paris Marathon in 2009 and since then he has been prolific on the roads, netting podium finishes at the Berlin Marathon, Istanbul Marathon and Prague Marathon.

His win at the Houston Marathon earlier this year was his third triumph in the race, the 28-year-old clocking 2:08:30 to come home more than 30 seconds clear of compatriot Yitahal Atnafu.

Kenyans Ezekial Omullo and Andrew Ben Kimutai, who have both run below 2:09, are also sure to feature in this year’s race. Omullo is a three-time winner of the Warsaw Marathon, his most dominant win coming in 2016 when he set his current PB of 2:08:55, while in April this year he cruised to victory at the same race in 2:11:17.

Kimutai is also a formidable performer, the 29-year-old finishing third at the Seville Marathon earlier this year where he set his current PB of 2:08:32.

In a truly international field, there will also be a duo of exciting prospects in Uganda’s Felix Chemonges and Morocco’s Mohamed Ahmami, who bring impressive pedigree at the shorter distances.

Chemonges, 22, finished 26th at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia back in March before lowering his PB to 61:46 in Verbania, Italy, in April.

Ahmami will carry the hopes of Morocco and the 34-year-old looks to have the calibre to make a big impact, entering with a half marathon PB of 61:17 which he ran to finish fourth at the Marrakech Half Marathon in January.

An interesting debutant at the distance is Kenya’s Kalipus Lomwai, who was a pacemaker at the race last year but carries a classy half marathon personal best of 61:22, which he ran to win the Hamburg Half Marathon in July.

Others of note include Bahrain’s Benson Seurei, who brings the best track pedigree to this test of endurance, the 34-year-old boasting an 800m personal best of 1:45.67. Since moving to the marathon, he has proved himself a capable performer, finishing seventh in Barcelona earlier this year in 2:11:27.

With a first prize of US $15,000 on offer, this year’s men’s race is sure to be a hotly-contested edition of the BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon, which will wind its way around a scenic 42.195km course alongside the city’s Mediterranean coast.


In addition to the prize money athletes will also compete for time bonuses, with an additional US $10,000 on offer for breaking 2:07, US $7,000 for breaking 2:07:30, US $5,000 for breaking 2:08:30 or US $2,500 for breaking 2:09:00, while there will also be US $3,000 available for breaking the course record of 2:10:42.

There will also be substantial prize money and time bonuses available for the first Lebanese finishers, the leading para athletes and the fastest athletes in the half marathons, which will also take place on November 11.

This year’s race will also incorporate the 50th World Military Marathon Championship, which will feature 98 runners from almost 20 countries. The BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon will also be the first leg of the Asia Premier Marathons, which is now in its second season.



All races will start at the picturesque Beirut Waterfront on General Wissam El Hassan Avenue and cross two parallel finish lines at the historic Martyrs’ Square in downtown Beirut.