There has never been a year before in recent history when school going kids found a full year to be out of their classrooms. This has gotten both parents and governments off-guard on how to deal with the situation. However, these hard times could be a golden opportunity for those who have talents and skills to focus more on them.
Recently, a pupil from a primary school in Eldoret just rose out of nowhere to instant stardom after a song she composed and sang to encourage people to observe the COVID-19 regulations went viral. Her homestead was immediately filled with journalists from different media houses in the country the following day. There were more than one million viewers on her YouTube song within a short time and she got many rewards including her full primary and secondary education getting funded by a local church. There are also kids across the world who have made headlines out of the pandemic.
In Kaptagat, the training ground of the world’s greatest marathon runner, I came across a group of high school runners already in their training. For these kids, it is an opportune time to focus more on their running. Most of the professional runners in the past have had to finish school first before considering running seriously, but this is a unique year. These young runners are taking this rare opportunity to train hard and find out how far their talents can take them.
While there is some uproar in the country about idle teenagers who would be in school causing trouble in many homesteads, and many teenage pregnancies making news, the kids doing their serious training was an inspiring moment.
They are training alongside some of the world’s best runners. In the group was Delvine Meringor who is ranked at 47 in the world’s women ranking of road runners. She has a personal best time of 67 minutes and 48 seconds for the half marathon and 32:06 for the 10km. On this particular day, the young runners were able to keep up with her up to almost the last 4km in their progressive 16km morning run.
With the WU20 world championships expected to happen next year in Nairobi, this group hopes to have one or two of their runners making it to the Kenyan national team.
In this small group of runners who live independently but only meet for training, some are in their last year in high school and hope to train well to be able to run qualifying times to get sports scholarships. Others are keener on becoming professional runners once they get out of school.
The young runners train under the guidance of former runner, Philemon Kipchilat; his wife, the world highly ranked road runner Delvine Meringor; and coach Philip Bargoria.
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