John Lotiang has been forced to move out of his own house into a small room in a corner of his own compound, by his own big heart, in order to provide free accommodation to runners in Iten.
“If no one had helped me, I would not be where I am today. That is what has made me decide to give out all my rental units, and my house as well, to runners in Iten for free until such a time when they will find other means to earn a living, or when everything returns to normal again,” Lotiang, a reformed Pokot warrior who left cattle rustling a few years ago to pursue running told RunBlogRun at his training place in Iten.
Through the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation initiative that was founded by the legendary runner and peace icon, Tegla Loroupe, Lotiang and a few other young warriors from the Pokot community were identified and provided with everything they needed – food, shelter and clothing- to begin their careers in running. He has been quite successful so far and knows what a big difference a little help can make to someone’s life.
According to him, the situation for other runners in Iten right now is not that good. There are those who had prepared well to go out and run good times in order to win some money for themselves and their families. But, having invested all their money in training well, the races were canceled leaving some of them in debts. There are others who have been depending on the support of other established runners for their upkeep in camp, and we can only imagine what they are going through now that those who they depended upon are themselves going through tough economic times.
Unbelievable as it sounds, Lotiang has even had to move from the bigger house he was living in to a smaller one in order to get some more space to help more runners who have approached him for help.
It has not been a good year for him as well. He had great plans, but trouble started at the exact place where he was hoping to go and make a huge step in his marathon career. He wanted to run a 2:08 time in the marathon at the Wuhan International Marathon in China. This is where the coronavirus spread started and the race had to be canceled. He shifted his focus to the Istanbul and the Ottawa marathons but they were also later on postponed.
“Continuing to train right now is a bit hard with no races coming up and with no big groups to join for the different training workouts. It takes a lot of effort to keep doing two runs in a day, but I still do my best to maintain some good mileage weekly since my aim is to move up to the marathon when everything opens up again,” he said.
His message to runners who are better off financially, and to everyone else in the community, is, “Please, let us help others.”