How One Kenyan Nation Produces The World’s Best Runners
Kenyan Wilson Kipsang won this year’s Berlin Marathon in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 23 seconds — an average of 4:42 per mile. It was easily the fastest marathon time ever recorded, an incredible feat for another powerful Kenyan runner.
But perhaps equally remarkable was that his fellow Kenyans also came in second, third, fourth and fifth place in this major international race. On the women’s side, Kenyans placed first, second and fourth.
Two weeks later in Chicago, Kenyan runner Dennis Kimetto broke the course record there — after only having run for four years. Next in line behind him? Three more Kenyans.
"If you look at it statistically, it sort of becomes laughable," says David Epstein, senior editor at Sports Illustrated and author of the new book The Sport Gene.
He says that while we tend to think of Kenyans as really good distance runners, all these runners are actually from the same nation known as the Kalenjin*. They number around ….
*”Kalenjin” is a term used to refer to up to nine separate nations of Nilotic heritage. These include the Nandi and Tugen amongst others. These groups settled in the highlands of the Rift Valley after migrating south along the Nile from Egypt.
Upon invasion of their territories by the British in the late 1800s, they were robbed of their ancestral land which owing to its arable nature was the best for farming. Such land was given to the King / Queen of England as a gift for use as s/he pleased.
It was eventually assigned to former soldiers after the two European wars of 1914 -1919 and 1939 - 1945.
The issue of their land is the most volatile issue in Kenya’s politics today.