Apr 25, 2012 0
My latest Sunday Telegraph review, of Adharanand Finn’s Running with the Kenyans, is online now:
When the men’s Olympic marathon is run in London in four months’ time, chances are the winner will be a Kenyan. The holder of the title is Kenyan; the world record holder is Kenyan; last year, 66 of the world’s 100 fastest marathons were run by Kenyans. “Few things from Africa,” a coach observes in this heartfelt, fish-out-of-water story, “generate such genuine awe, fear and unreserved respect, as a Kenyan runner on the start line of a marathon.”
And so Sunday’s London marathon was won Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany (left), both of Kenya, as predicted by Tom Payn, the British marathon runner I mentioned – trailing behind 300 Kenyans – in the review. Payn left his job as a technical sales engineer for a filtration company in Portsmouth and moved to Kenya in an attempt to make it to the Olympics. His blog gives a very realistic sense of what being a professional athlete is like (in short, painful).
Finn talks quite a bit about Mary Keitany in the book. Here’s what he had to say about her on his Running with the Kenyans blog for the Guardian website:
A shy girl who lives near Rudisha (and me) here in Iten, she also broke the world half marathon record earlier this year.
I visited her recently and asked her whether she thought she could win gold in London. She looked at me hesitantly. “I don’t know,” she said.
In Kenya, with so many other amazing athletes around, nobody is guaranteed a place on the national team, so talk of winning medals a year in advance can seem a bit presumptuous, even for world record holders.
It’s a good book. Read the whole review here.