Cradle Land of World-Running: Another Boston Marathon Star, Rita Jeptoo

Rita Jeptoo who won the Boston Marathon said,  “For the last year, it’s not good, but I was thinking this year is not the same as last year. This year will be better than last year. And I hope we are going to run and [there will be] no problems again. ”

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Rita Jeptoo Triumphs

Born 33 years ago, Rita Jeptoo, who won the Boston Marathon in 2006 and 2013, has conquered the race once again this year 2014,  breaking the course record today with a finishing time 2:18:57.

Discouraged by the fatal bombings last year, she couldn’t claim the title then because of the tragedy. This year Rita Jeptoo came prepared enough to bring the gold home and fly the flag of Kenya above every flag before the world. With the smooth tune of our national anthem, the Black, Red and Green colours of Kenyan flag with white strips and a shield flew high dancing to the Boston cold winds, with everyone standing attention for the respect and love for Kenya and Kalenjin Community.

Thank you Lapatiikyok. Kongoi missing Jeptoo ak alak chechang.

Kalenjin-Nandi  are known worldwide for unique athleticism. We have always shined and shown the world our brightest star in track sports. The world, especially the jealous west have wondered the art, style and strength of our running!

Thank you Kalenjin for giving Kenya an international high ranking.

What The West Think About Our Unique Success and Athleticism

The scientific research into this, though, turns up something very different, and even more difficult to talk about sensitively: certain genetic traits common to this part of the world may help make people there naturally predisposed to be better runners. I looked into this question two years ago for The Atlantic ; here’s what I found:

Scientific research on the success of Kenyan runners has yet to discover a Cool Runnings gene that makes Kenyans biologically predisposed to reaching for the stars, or any scientific basis for Gladwell’s argument that they just care more. Most of Kenya’s Olympic medal winners come from a single tribe, the Kalenjin, of whom there are only 4.4 million. Sub-Saharan Africans have identified themselves by tribes such as this one for far longer than they’ve identified by nationality — a system mostly imposed by the Western colonialism — so the Kalenjin distinction is not just academic, and the tribe is probably genetically insular enough that common physical traits could inform their athletic success. 

In 1990, the Copenhagen Muscle Research Center compared post-pubescent schoolboys there to Sweden’s famed national track team (before Kenya and a few other African countries began dominating international racing events in the late 1980s, Scandinavians were the most reliable winners). The study found that boys on the high school track team in Iten, Kenya, consistently outperformed the professional Swedish runners. 

The researchers estimated that the average Kalenjin could outrun 90% of the global population, and that at least 500 amateur high school students in Iten alone could defeat Sweden’s greatest professional runner at the 2,000-meter. 

A 2000 Danish Sports Science Institute investigation reproduced the earlier study, giving a large group of Kalenjin boys three months of training and then comparing them to Thomas Nolan, a Danish track superstar.  

When the Kalenjin boys trounced him, the researchers — who had also conducted a number of physical tests and compared them against established human averages — concluded that Kalenjins must have an inborn, physical, genetic advantage. They observed a higher number of red blood cells (which lent new credence to the theory that elevation makes their bodies more effective oxygen-users) but, in their conclusions,
emphasized the “bird-like legs” that make running less energy-intensive and give their stride
exceptional efficiency. This research was extremely controversial when it started to trickle out in the 1990s and 2000s. East African athletes saw it as trying to downplay or explain
away their successes, which had come with tremendous work. Cultural critics saw it as a continuation of the racist, 19th-century idea that Africans were
“specialized” for manual work. 

As I wrote:

Running, like any sport, is inherently physical, and physical traits inform athletic success. Just because Larry Bird and Michael Jordan are tall doesn’t mean they aren’t first and foremost great athletes. Part of Olympian Michael Phelps’ record-breaking swimming is his unusual body shape , which is genetically inborn; you can’t train for longer arms. All athletes owe some of their success to their own
physical traits, but because Kalenjin runners share those traits across an ethnic group, and because that ethnic group is part of the story of colonialism and white exploitation of blacks for their physical labor, it’s harder to talk about. But that doesn’t make their athleticism any less amazing. 

In other words, even if the explanation for east Africans’ marathon domination as a group might have something to do with biology, that shouldn’t take away
one bit from the remarkable athleticism of the individual runners who actually go on to win. 

Courtesy: VOX.com

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