My training mate wins Kisumu City Marathon, (Dec.15), by Justin Lagat

Boaz Kiprono, photo by Justin Lagat

Justin Lagat wrote this column in mid-December, just after his training partner, Boaz Kiprono won his first marathon. Justin has written this column for RunBlogRun for over a year now, about his view of our sport from the roads and tracks in Kenya. 
My Training Mate Wins Kisumu City Marathon, by Justin Lagat

A few days to the Kisumu City Marathon, we wished everyone in our training camp the best of luck as we all had different races to run. Wilson Kiprop was heading for the New Dehli half marathon that was to happen the same day as the Kisumu marathon on the 15th of December.  Others were preparing to run a cross country race in Ziwa, an urban centre nearby Eldoret town. I was the only one in the group who was supposedly going to head for the marathon in Kisumu.

Two days to my planned day of traveling, the weather in the country changed all of a sudden and began raining almost all throughout the country as though to mark the 50 years of independence that was being celebrated on 12th December. I remember watching live coverage of the day's celebrations in Nairobi that had been attended by over 17 heads of governments as I waited for the rains to subside so that I could do an easy run. I was finally able to go out at midday, running on a muddy road that may have eventually resulted in a hamstring injury I had been nursing getting worse. I relaxed and waited for it to get better, but time was not on my side.
I woke up at 4am on the day of my planned travel and listened carefully to my body, after which I concluded it would not be proper for me to spend money travelling to a race that I may not be in the right health to run. Boaz Kiprono knocked on my door at 7:30am and told me that he had changed his mind and wasn't going to run again in Ziwa, but had decided to go with me to Kisumu. I told him of my situation and wished him all the best. He had to travel with our coach.

The following day, the day of the race, I woke up to check on the results on the internet and Wilson Kiprop had just ended up on the podium in the New Dheli half marathon. It was good news. Shortly after that, my phone rang. It was our coach calling from Kisumu.

"Katuiyo has won....", his phone went off before he could finish. I tried calling him and his phone was "dead." I later confirmed Katuiyo had actually won the Kisumu marathon. Katuiyo is the name we use for Boaz Kiprono in our training group.

His win meant a lot to us as a training group as it affirmed that our training program was one of the best around, especially after the others who went to the cross country event in Ziwa also came back with very impressive results.

Boaz Kiprono joined our group four months ago. He was coming straight from the village after his many attempts to attend any training camp became futile due to lack of finances to support him there. The establishment of our new camp by Wilson Kiprop, the 2010 world half marathon champion, became a perfect opportunity for him to start a serious training program, thanks to his relatives who live around the camp and offered him free accommodation.
Wilson has been so kind and generous making sure that each one of us in the camp trained well. With no company stepping in to sponsor the camp so far, he has been sharing his own training facilities with us whenever he received some from his own management; which is not common among other professional athletes. He also pays our coach, takes us in his vehicle for workouts, fuels a motorbike during long runs and even sponsors athletes going out to local competitions within the country. Kiprono's win showed some recognition to world champion's work of giving back to the community by assisting the local athletes.

As our coach, well known as Soloo, was telling me how the event had unfolded, I could not help noticing that the always funny Katuiyo was actually acting funny in the race too. He went to the front of the leading pack at 37km and signaled them to follow him, but our coach noticed that and asked him to relax and stay behind the pack of which he complied. After 40km, coach told him he could begin moving forward. He did go to the front, raised his hands as though waving a goodbye to the rest of the athletes and immediately began opening a gap that continued to increase until he crossed the finish line, more that 100m ahead of his chasers.

For now, he is just so excited about his first ever marathon win and looking forward to a chance for him to finally get to go out and compete abroad.

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