Wesley Korir, Beyond Running, by Toni Reavis, note by Larry Eder

Wesley Korir, photo by PhotoRun.net

I do remember the first time that Karen Locke, one of the more excitable athlete managers, spoke about Wesley Korir. He had won LA Marathon and she thought he could walk on air. Then, someone who knew him from Louiseville told me about Wesley. Like Karen's comments, I kept the several other comments I had heard about Wesley in the flypaper part of my brain for future use.

Last Boston Marathon, in watching Wesley Korir navigate the course, but most importantly, find tactics that made sense for him, that day, against some of the best marathoners in the world, I was truly impressed with his racing ability. Afterwards, in speaking a bit with Wesley, I was even more impressed. 

And the next day, at the Boston awards ceremony and final press event, Wesley was sore, but jubilant. Wesley Korir was a Kenyan athlete who had some context with me. His story, told much better than I by Chicago's Phil Hersh, and his humanity, expressed so well in the story following, by Toni Reavis, will move you, like few others.

An athlete with context? When I first interviewed Haile Gebrselassie in 2006, at the RnR Arizona race, getting a feel for Haile, his likes, his dislikes, how he handled fame and stress, all added to the context of having watched him race for eleven years.  

The marathon is such a gamble, but, deep in my heart, I want to see Wesely Korir and Dathan Ritzenhein in the top three. Might be dreaming, but, isn't that part of being a sports fan? 


by Toni Reavis

Wesley Korir's Winning Smile

Like the other great running writers of his era, men like the late Joe Concannon of the Boston Globe andNeil Amdur, the former sports editor of the New York Times, Phil Hersh of the Chicago Tribune is a master of the long-form profile, once a staple in the newspaper business.  With a gemologist's eye for detail Phil has a way of weaving a tapestry in words that captures something beyond the facts, and instead reveals the essential nature of his subject.  Hersh penned just such an article this week on Kenya's Wesley Korir as a lead-in to Sunday's Chicago Marathon.

Without retracing Phil's steps following the career of 2011 Chicago Marathon runner-up, I wanted to share the thoughts and feelings of this elegant and humble man from Kenya the day after the greatest achievement of his running career, his win at the 2012 Boston Marathon.

The 116th Boston Marathon stands as one the warmest in the event's illustrious history.  Dire warnings were posted on the BAA website offering entrants the opportunity to by-pass the expected broiler without having to re-qualify for 2013 (Boston is the only major marathon that requires entrants to qualify by age-graded time standards).

With temperatures soaring to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the road surface, two-time L.A. Marathon champion Wesley Korir bided his time, watching as fellow countryman Matthew Kisorio (recently suspended for a steroid doping violation) Levy Matebo and defending championGeoffrey Mutai opened up a sizable lead through the mid-section miles of the historic route.  Mutai was running in his first hot weather marathon, and discovering it was not his cup of tea.   At 18 miles he pulled off by the side of the road, felled by the sweltering conditions.  At 21 miles atop Heartbreak Hill Matebo broke free of Kisorio. Wesley Korir was in sixth place more than a minute behind.

"I had to be careful," Wesley told me the following day at the annual day-after press conference at the Copley Plaza Hotel, "because with crowds I really get motivated. So I had to stay in the moment and be smart.  I kept telling myself, "be smart.  Be smart."

Gradually, like a long-line fisherman, Korir reeled in the fading leaders, finally passing Matebo on Beacon Street before entering Kenmore Square with one mile to go.

"When I passed him I knew he was struggling," Wesley recalled. "I said, 'I've got this'. Then all of a sudden I began cramping up really bad, and I had to slow down, because I knew if I continued pushing I wouldn't finish the race."

Nobody was immune to the conditions that April day.  But this is where Wesley Korir began to separate himself from the everyday champions of the sport.  In his moment of crisis, with victory at history's oldest marathon at stake, he didn't think as an athlete.  He rendered information as a husband and a father.

"As I was running, I knew my family was first, and my running was second. I didn't want to do anything crazy to hurt myself, because I know my family depends on me. I know they love me, and want to see me back home safe."

Another kilometer down the course as the route dipped below Mass Ave at the Tommy Leonard Bridge adjacent to the old Eliot Lounge, Wesley was able to get away from Matebo. But... Read more of this post

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