Caroline Rotich, photo by PhotoRun.net
Lelisa Desisa, photo by PhotoRun.net
For Justin Lagat, like all Kenyan distance runners, running is a national pastime. His column, A View from Kenya provides RunBlogRun readers with a unique, passionate and unblemished view of how runners close to the sport in Kenya, and Kenyan sports fans, see athletics.
This piece is of particular interest, as Justin Lagat joined some friends at a local restaurant to watch the 119th Boston Marathon.
Watching the 119th Boston Marathon at a restaurant in Eldoret, Kenya, by Justin Lagat
The TV screen at a restaurant here in Eldoret where I, with a group of other Kenyan fans, watched the Boston Marathon was hanging very high on the wall and I was silently wishing it had been placed a bit lower so that we could enjoy some more clarity. But, when the two Ethiopians, Mare Dibaba and Buzunesh Deba, pulled ahead of the rest of the field in the women’s race as they accelerated towards the finish and Kenya’s Caroline Rotich went with them, I was glad that the screen was that high. The fans stood from their chairs and started cheering for Rotich as they moved towards the screen pointing at it as if the rest of us who sat behind them were not watching it, or, they may have forgotten that they weren’t transparent.
The duel between Mare Dibaba and Rotich was a moment to remember. As the two neared the finish line, there was an instant when Dibaba appeared slightly ahead and the Kenyan fans in the restaurant thought that the battle was over. Their cheering subsided suddenly, with a few still shouting that there was still hope. Then, just like it happens in a hail storm against iron roofs, the short break of calmness was suddenly taken over by louder cheers when Rotich caught up again with Dibaba and the two began to run shoulder to shoulder. It was going to be a close finish. As the fans grew hoarse, Rotich finally edged Dibaba and cut the tape. Handshakes and hugs amid screams were exchanged among the strangers in the room.
The women’s race had been so exciting past the half way as Des Linden of the USA maintained a fast pace at the lead that saw the other Kenyan runners; Sharon Cherop and Caroline Kilel, who Kenyans had more expectations in them seeming to be struggling to keep up as they ran behind the pack. No one wanted to miss a second of it.
The men’s race too was exciting with many surges and victims of the surges dropping back from the leading pack at many instances on the way. Being a championship year, many of the Kenyan athletes would have bettered their chances to be included in the marathon team by finishing in the top three positions. Patrick Makau was the first one to disappear from the radar before Abel Kirui followed later when Lelisa Desisa engaged the field in a fast pace after crossing the midway.
Despite not being considered a real contender by many who thought that becoming a politician would take much of his time from training, Wesley Korir proved them wrong. He was able to stay with the leading pack of four in the later stages of the race and only started to falter with about two kilometers to go and finished in 5th place.
Lelisa Desisa ran strongly and confidently in the last stages of the men’s race and the only competition he still had was from his compatriot, Yemane Tsegay, who soon appeared to have been already contented with a 2ndposition as he kept glancing back at Kenya’s Wilson Chebet and raising his hands in celebration with some meters to go. The three of them finished the race in that order.
After watching the Boston Marathon, one has to agree that the level of competition in marathon running is rising, that it is getting harder to predict winners and that this is adding more excitement to watching the event.
Also, in some small way, the Boston Marathon brought in some unifying element here in Africa in the wake of the barbaric xenophobic attacks in South Africa where foreigners are being mistreated and being asked to leave the country as other Africans in other nations begin shunning South African Companies and products in retaliation. Many Kenyans on this day remained sober and thronged into social places to entertain themselves by watching the eagerly awaited Boston Marathon on the South African DSTV channels. It is time that such hostile people realize that the world is slowly becoming one and that we all need each other for trade and unity.
Larry Eder has had a 50-year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher, and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub-4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Athletics to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts, and RunBlogRun. Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says: "I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at runblogrun.com, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself."
Theme song: Greg Allman, " I'm no Angel."
View all posts
Leave a Reply