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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 November 2005, 19:16 GMT
Why do Kenyans dominate marathons?
Kenya's Paul Tergat
Paul Tergat set the marathon world record in Berlin in 2003

The New York City marathon took place in America on Sunday 6 November.

The race was won by Kenya's world record holder for the distance, Paul Tergat.

Yet Kenyan successes are not just restricted to the world's major cities but to marathons all over the planet.

On Sunday, two other Kenyans won marathons - as far afield as Seoul and Athens - and this year alone, Kenyans have won at least 30 marathons.

In fact, 35 of the globe's top 50 road runners are Kenyan according to rankings by athletics' governing body, the IAAF.

But why are Kenyans so dominant at marathon running?

Why are other African nations - Ethiopia, South Africa and Morocco aside - not providing more competition for the Kenyans?

Is it boring that one nation is so dominant in the event?

This debate has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


As young Kenyans, we ran five kilometres to school every morning. And as children, we saw our parents run to work. We ran to church, to the river, everywhere. To a Kenyan, running is part of our daily lifestyle. Our victories at international events are just proof of this.
Elijah Maanzo, Pretoria, South Africa

It is not boring to see Kenyans dominating the marathon because running is what many Kenyans do all the time. They just love running! I think this is a challenge for other African countries to groom their own athletes to counter the dominance of Kenyans on the track.
Deng Ajak Dut, a Sudanese living in Australia

I guess Kenyans train at a much earlier age and they also see marathons as an avenue to get out of hard economic situations at home.
Alex, Kasese, Uganda

Due to the high rate of unemployment and corruption, many Kenyans have turned to what we call self-employment, and running for money is included in that. While other people all over the world run for fun, Kenyans take it as a profession which makes them practice throughout the year which leads to their dominance of the marathons.
Kisanya Vincent, Nairobi, Kenya

I once had the pleasure of sitting next to the Kenyan Minister for Health at a luncheon in Nairobi and I asked him why Kenyans were winning everything in long distance running. He laughed and replied "It's because we walk everywhere".
Bill Tincey, Perth, Australia

The same question has been posed for the last couple of years although in a different sporting scene. Why does Ferrari dominate Formula One? It wasn't true that F1 was boring when we had this dominance. The rest of the teams just had to up their gears and perform at a much higher level than they were. And now we have Renault and McLaren giving Ferrari a run for their money. Kenyans dominate due to the fact that their ability to endure punishment on the track has been finely developed during many hours of training in high altitude rift valley. I am sure there are many places of high altitude in the world that the aspiring challengers can go to train. They are also welcome in Kenya to use our facilities. But whatever they do they must up the preparation in order to provide formidable challenge to the Kenyans.
Stanley Ngaira, a Kenyan living in Denmark





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