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Thousands of Kenyan runners have the same dream Part 1: The Real Running Scene in the country of Kenya

Kenya is famous for producing many of the best runners in the world.  Just recently Kenyan’s Eliud Kipchoge smashed the world record for the marathon clocking 2:01:38 in Berlin. What makes Kenyan runners so fast? There are many theories.  One of them suggests that since many runners originate from the mountainous districts of the Rift Valley, they get an edge due to living at high altitude.  However, the same advantage would be for athletes living at high altitudes in central Asia and Mexico.  So maybe this is not the reason?  Kenya is a nation blessed with thousands of athletes of approximately 85,000.  A majority of them are distance runners. More than 12,000 can run below 75 minutes for 21km (half marathon) and about 25,000 can run a sub 35 minutes 10km.  Thousands can run a marathon in under 3 hours 20 minutes. Very impressive for elite performances. Most runners in Kenya are between the ages of 12-45.  There are very few master runners (40 plus) compared to other countries.  This is because most runners in Kenya make running as their primary source of livelihood to feed the family and even help their relatives or friends and the community.  There are very few runners 45-60 years or older because of health conditions like diabetes or heart conditions.  It is rare to find a runner 70 plus in Kenya unlike countries like the USA.  They are like endangered species and there are less than 20 athletes in the whole country that are 70 plus.  The current life expectancy for all people in the US is 78.74 years while in Kenya it is 62.13 years.  The total population in Kenya is 45 million compared to 325 million in the US.  Kenya is the size of Texas. The median age in Kenya is 18, half that of the United States and 41 percent of the population is 14 or younger.  For many Kenyan's their whole life is centered around running.  Many train three times per day logging in over 100 miles per week.  They live modestly making ends meet on $100US per month or less.  They dream of being a super star and they train very hard.  This started when Kipchoge Keino came on the scene in 1962 at the Commonwealth Games in Perth.  Kip Keino in 1968 won the gold medal in the 1500m in Mexico City and after that many have followed in his footsteps.  But it wasn't until later when millions of dollars of prize money came available did things really change.  Now the best runners in Kenya can earn millions of dollars (US) in prize money and sponsorship money.  There is the possibility that through hard work, dedication and connections that any talented Kenyan can make their dream become a reality.  Thousands of Kenyans have the same dream. This is no different than the dream kids have in America of being a famous baseball, basketball or football player.... There is one thing, however that seem to be missing in Kenya.  The times run on Kenya soil are not that good compared to the times run by Kenyans outside the country.  Why is this?  In Part two we will address this situation.   (Tue 9) ‚ö°AMP
by Willie Korir reporting from Kenya
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