We asked Justin Lagat to speak with emerging athletes and how COVID 19 affected their athletic season…
The few races that have happened so far this year including the London marathon, the Wanda Diamond League races and the world half marathon championships have been mostly featuring the very top elite runners only.
From the results of the 2019 Eldoret City Marathon in Kenya, the top ten finishers’ lifestyles went into different trajectories. One runner ended up in the world athletics platinum label (top 35 ranked in the world), others ended up either in the gold, or silver labels. But, some could not even make it to the bronze label status. The COVID 19 situation made life even harder for those runners who were not able to secure sponsorships deals despite their great performances.
Isaac Too had finished 8th at the Eldoret City Marathon which had pointed to a very successful 2020 for him. This was after a 4th place at the Nairobi half marathon late in the previous year.
“Having stayed so close in the Eldoret race to some of the world’s best runners up to almost the end of the race, I saw a great possibility of running a fast time in a faster course. My plans to run the Rotterdam marathon in April were in advance stages, and my body was feeling great before the race was postponed to October,” Too said. “I was optimistic about running 2:05,” he added.
The Rotterdam marathon was later canceled.
For Too, and many other runners at his level in Kenya, the uncertainty of opportunities to compete again while maintaining their living in their training places has made their lives very difficult.
While preparing for a good race, one invests their time and resources into their training, which leaves little or no time to go out and seek other jobs to sustain their living. If only they knew how long the COVID 19 situation would stay, most would have paused their training for a while and do something else to earn their living in the meantime.
“When Rotterdam Marathon was postponed the first time, I went back to my village and did some farming there. But, I came back to my training camp when things started to look promising again,” said Too.
The camp he is referring to is some rental units where each runner stays in his own unit, pays rent, caters for their own food and other living expenses.
“I am using up the little money I had won in my previous races, but whenever I think of pausing my training to go back and do other activities for a while, I am scared that an opportunity to race may present itself soon and it will take a lot of effort and time to get back in good form,” he said.
“For now, I am focusing more on endurance work. At times I put in some speed work, but the longer kind of speed workouts.”