Monday, December 9, 2013
(Continued from page 1)
Anders Samuelson, son of Joan Benoit Samuelson, talks Wednesday about the Kenyan runners he stayed with this year. Their focus on what success can mean to their families and homes separates them from other distance runners, he says.
John Ewing/Staff Photographer
Runners and others at the Kimbia House in Kenya include, left to right: Lawi Rutto, Julliah Tinega, who will be running in this year’s Beach to Beacon race for the first time, Mama Kibet, Isaac Arusei, Allan Kiprono and Philemon Cheboi.
Photo by Anders Samuelson
No basketball to shoot, no soccer ball to kick. No paddles or table for ping pong. No instruments for music. No video game consoles. And certainly no wireless signals.
"We had newspapers," said Samuelson. "It didn't matter how old they were. We talked about what we read. We had books."
There was a television that picked up a signal or two. Mexican soap operas dubbed into English were watched after the sun went down. "I never thought I could watch them but when there's nothing else, it's amazing how you can get into them," Samuelson said.
Mud and dung thatch-roofed huts, which Samuelson thought were from another time, in fact still exist, serving as homes. "I was surprised how cool they were inside," he said.
He traveled the roads, sometimes paying to ride in aging Japanese-built vans called matatus that could seat 12.
He passed small roadside shacks that serve the same purpose as convenience stores in America. Some sold food, others bicycle parts. He watched children chasing after tires they had set rolling. It is believed that a child has a chance to become a world-class runner if he or she runs 10,000 miles by age 10.
This is a place that sends its runners around the world to race and win. Kimbia House will send three of its 10 athletes -- Allan Kiprono, James Koskei and Julliah Tinega -- to Saturday's Beach to Beacon. Koskei won in 2002, Kiprono was runner-up last year. Tinega is racing here for the first time.
They are not just racers, Samuelson reminds once again. They are people shaped by their dreams and their environment. The same things that once described American runners.
The same things that described his mother, Joan, when she dominated the world's roads.
Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: