“He’s the real deal,” Dan Campbell says of Moninda Marube, whom he coaches. And Campbell means that in several senses.
For one thing, there’s Marube’s volunteer work in Auburn, where he lives with Campbell, a coach at Edward Little High for more than 30 years. Maurbe is deeply involved in a Police Athletic League running program for kids ages 7-18. The twice-weekly sessions began this summer with 20 kids, grew to include 60, and will culminate in the whole group running the 5K race that’s part of the Lake Auburn Half Marathon on Sept. 8. They’ll wear their Chestnut Field Champions (the name they voted for themselves) shirts.
“So far the program has been very successful,” Marube said enthusiastically. “The reception has been good — from parents, so huge. New Balance came in and gave us support with shoes, and so did Lamey-Wellehan. The PAL of the Auburn Police Department has been instrumental in making sure the program runs well.”
The program “isn’t all about running, but about ‘running toward something,”‘ Marube said. “We always talk about the very important thing called teamwork. We emphasize self-respect, and respect to others. Being the best students you can be, and preparing to be able to run well, through proper nutrition.
“The running really provides the arena where the kids can benefit, and benefit others.”
Marube well knows the all-around benefits of running. He grew up in Kenya without the means to obtain an education. “I decided that I wanted to get out of poverty, and I realized that education is the key to a good life, but I knew it wasn’t the only key.
“I thought, ‘since I can’t raise school fees, what can I do?’ So I thought of training.”
That was in 2002 (Marube, 34, says he came late to running). “I trained from 2003 to 2006, and after that turned professional, and traveled out of the country to compete.”
He raced in Thailand, Malaysia and elsewhere; returned briefly to Kenya; and spent some time in Turkey, where, he mentions, he ran a 1:03:12 half marathon.
“The real deal” indeed; Campbell notes that Marube ran a couple 2:17 marathons, one in Spain. Marube moved on to Australia, and by 2010 was racing in the United States — but struggling to get by — when his life took a significant turn.
He won the Santa Barbara International Marathon that November, in 2:25:49, and there met Campbell, the race’s technical director. Campbell works the race with one of his former Edward Little High runners, race director Rusty Snow. When Marube came to the postrace party to collect the prize money of $2,500, Campbell remembers, his daughter, Jan Boyce, noticed that he seemed unhappy, and advised him to talk to her dad. (“He can fix anything.”)
Marube, who had traveled to the race from Texas, confessed to Campbell that he was essentially living homeless, training as best he could. Whereupon Campbell offered him a room in his Auburn home. Suffice it to say, “I consider him my father,” says Marube, who’s earned his GED since moving here. And also, Campbell is his coach.
Marube repeated at Santa Barbara in 2011, in a course-record 2:22:28. He won the 2012 Race the Runways Half in Brunswick in 1:07:03, and the Patriots Day 5-miler in 25:14. More recently, he was fourth at Vermont City in May, in 2:29:28, and won the Bridgton 4 on the Fourth in 20:27. (An event Snow also won several times.)
Aside from volunteer work, the down-to-earth Marube does odd jobs around town, such as mowing lawns, and he will be coaching at Auburn Middle School this fall. His racing schedule, going into the fall, is undetermined. “The idea is to take the next six months to a year and get some speed under him,” Campbell says, before returning to marathoning.
Marube said his current weekly mileage of 70-90 includes three track workouts.
Marube did win the Patriot 5K in May in 14:52, but the goal speed of this campaign is close to or under 14 for 5K, and close to 28 for 10K.
Characteristically of him, Marube is aiming high for more than, if at all, individual glory. Inspired in part by Campbell’s stories of high-level racing in Maine over the decades, he wants to see more Maine runners competing at higher levels regionally and nationally, and to help them get there, and continue to do so when his own elite racing years have passed.
“Promoting this sport, not only for itself but to provide a way to help people live in harmony and lead a healthy life, running for a purpose, and being an ambassador with that in mind … I’ve thought about that since back in Australia in 2008, and Maine is actually the most perfect place to pursue that,” he says.
The real deal, as Campbell would say.
John Rolfe of Portland is a road runner. He can be reached at 791-6429 or at: