We asked Justin Lagat, our senior writer in Kenya, to help us appreciate the change in stature in Kenya for Brigid Kosgei, in Kenya, after her exciting 2:14.04 WR. Justin complied, in this fascinating piece.
In this current world where money and a good number of years’ experience is often needed in almost any undertaking in life; be it to look for a job, to get an education, to start a business, among others; people who begin from a humble beginning, turn their misfortunes into opportunities and end up successful in life are highly regarded in society. When everything else seems to fail for a dedicated, hard-working and focused individual, running is often the option that can work in ensuring that they make it in life.
Brigid Kosgei would now be any other average woman in the society working somewhere in an office as perhaps a teacher or a secretary, but her lack of school fees to pursue her education turned into a blessing in disguise for her as she is now the best female marathon runner in the world, currently seeming to be competing in a class of her own.
Kosgei just did the unimaginable at the Chicago Marathon on the 13th of October. She ran 1 minute and 21 seconds faster than a world record that had stood for more than 16 years! If there was going to be a debate in the future about when the first woman was going to run under 2:15:00 for the marathon, then Kosgei just took us, in a quick forward, to that future by running an amazing time of 2:14:04; a time that is the envy of many elite runners even in the men’s category.
However, during the Kenyan national celebrations to recognize and celebrate the Kenyan heroes and heroines on the 20th of October, there were so much cheering from the crowds when Brigid Kosgei’s name was called out by the president, but when the president looked around for her, just like everyone else, she was nowhere to be seen amongst the huge crowds that had gathered. Kosgei who had traveled from Eldoret to Mombasa for the celebrations was just there somewhere in the crowds, together with her coach, trying to fight their way through the security to be recognized.
Eric Kimaiyo who coaches, mentors and shaped Kosgei into the world-beater she currently, is a very humble coach as well in general, but quite strict and highly respected by his runners in the training camp.
“There are no secrets to running well,” Kimaiyo offered some free advice as we traveled together watching a live stream of the Venice Marathon in which two other athletes that he coaches finished first in the women’s race (Judith Orir) and second in the men’s race (Henry Kiprop). “With the right training and discipline, every race and distance should be easy.”
Dr. Rosa himself did call during the race to seek reassurance at around the 25km point and Kimaiyo confirmed to him that Judith was in good form and that her finish time should fall under 2:30, which happened. Then when Kiprop made a move at around the 35 km point, we cheered in the mini-bus, but he was disappointed with the move as Anfesa Tesfaye hung behind him. “This guy is becoming a second pacesetter, he should have remained calm up to the last few kilometers,” he had said. True to his words, the Ethiopian eventually won the race after overtaking Kiprop towards the finish.
While the general public does feel a lot of pride in the achievement of Brigid Kosgei and can relate to her story of working hard from whatever little, or no means, to the top; there seems to be some space to be taken up by the Kenyan companies to work with the Kenyan runners for a mutual the benefit of popularizing the runners more and branding themselves in the process. A few companies, including Isuzu and Safaricom, are already doing that with Eliud Kipchoge.