How the sport of running has been in 2019, for the Kenyan Athlete

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Justin Lagat has given @runblogrun many amazing columns over the years. In this final column of 2019, Justin ponders what the sport of running has become in Kenya.

Kigen_BenjaminFH-Rome19.jpgBenjamin Kigen, photo by Photorun.net

Over time, I have come to learn that when you love anything; it will definitely love you back. Being part of the running community in any capacity - be it a coach, a runner, a physiotherapist, a journalist, or a fan - makes one feel that they are part of one big family. The success of one is felt by many. Interestingly, I have been involved in running in all the above capacities this year.

Looking back, it has been a year full of wonderful moments and experiences. It has been another year that my love for the sport of running has paid me back handsomely in many different ways.

I got to witness world records being set by Sifan Hassan in the women's mile, Geoffrey Kamworor in the men's half marathon, Joshua Cheptegei in the men's 10K race and Brigid Kosgei in the women's marathon, among many other great performances.

The greatest moment of the year was Eliud Kipchoge's run in Vienna in which he became the first, and the only, man to ever run a marathon in under two hours. By running 1:59:40, Kipchoge inspired everyone in the world to know that they can achieve anything they set their minds to achieve; if only they will give it all the focus, hard work and discipline it deserves.

Personally, it has been more than 326 hours of running; 268 active days; 4,158km covered in my training. In all these, I have gotten to interact with runners of different nationalities, make new friends, share fun moments and learn a lot about life in general besides the obvious; maintaining good health and bringing a positive impact in the world.

Within the first year of my online coaching career, five of the runners I coached ran their personal best times. Less than three months after enrolling for my online programs, Duncan Nyasinga finished the New York City marathon in 2:33:27, improving his personal best time by over seven minutes. The other four runners improved their personal best times in the half marathon distances by impressive margins as well; which was the highest success I have ever heard from any coach I know!

In some of the leading magazines and publications, the richest sportspeople do not usually come from the sport of running. But, arguably, the largest number of sportspeople in the world who get to benefit directly and indirectly from their sport are runners, coaches and running fans. Few other sports, if any, amass so many participants in their events like the marathons do. The runners get opportunities to travel across the world for different races, share experiences with other runners and become part of an active lifestyle.

I am so grateful for the people I got to interact with this year through running and I am hoping to spread my connections to get many more fans and friends in 2020. Happy New Year from the Kenyan Athlete!

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