FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Second LA Marathon Win Keys Life-Changing Year for Wesley Korir
Back-to-back champion now a husband, father and professional athlete
LOS ANGELES, January 28, 2011 – Many people have used running, and races
like the Honda LA Marathon presented by K-Swiss, to help change their lives
for the better. It certainly did for two-time champion Wesley Korir.
"Things are a lot different now," he said during a two-day visit to Los
Angeles ahead of the 26th edition of the race on March 20. "2010 was a
really wild year for me, but I hope 2011 will be even better."
That would be something, since he started last year with his second
consecutive win at the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January, then married his
longtime girlfriend, Tarah McKay, just a week before winning his second
straight Honda LA Marathon in March, then returned to his Louisville home
and his job as a maintenance worker at the University of Louisville for
about a week before resigning to become a full-time athlete.
Over the summer, he and Tarah left Louisville – where they had met when she
was also a member of the school's track team (and a team captain for the
women's cross country and track & field squads) – for her hometown of St.
Clements, Ontario, Canada. And by September, he and Tarah welcomed their
first child, a girl they decided to call McKayLA, named for her family name
and adding "LA" in capital letters saluting his wins in the L.A. Marathon!
After a trip to Kenya over the holidays, Korir and his family returned to
St. Clements, which is picturesque, but he notes that "it is really cold
Those are big changes from just two years ago, when Korir was essentially
unknown. After running to a fourth-place finish in the 2008 Chicago
Marathon after starting behind the elite runners, he earned a front-row
slot for the 2009 Los Angeles race, but had no expectations of winning,
saying afterwards "Studying the race, I just wanted to run a personal best,
I thought my chances to win were zero. Starting the race I just planned to
stay with these guys who have run faster than me."
Instead, he improved his lifetime best by more than five minutes and set a
race record of 2:08:24 and won a stunning total of $160,000 in cash with
the winner's prize of $20,000, a time bonus of $40,000 and $100,000 from
winning the men vs. women Challenge, plus a 2009 Honda Accord EX-L
($188,705 total). He joked with reporters after the race, saying "Yes, I
know I'm in a much higher tax bracket now."
While in Kenya, Korir had a chance to meet with 2010 women's winner Edna
Kiplagat, whose own experience mirrored Korir's in how the Honda LA
Marathon changed their lives.
"When we got talking about life, and Edna was telling me how much she had
struggled trying to get into running, and she had reached the point of
giving up. And the L.A. Marathon definitely changed her life; it gave her
motivation to run more and gave her motivation even to train more because
when she won here, she goes 'I can really do this.'
"She was really talking highly about the L.A. Marathon; me, too, when we
got talking, I was telling her about how the L.A. Marathon really changed
my life and started me off to where I've been, because we all need
something, we need a chance and the L.A. Marathon gave both of us a chance
to re-discover our talents and it was really amazing the way she was really
talking highly about the L.A. Marathon. It was the last chance she had, the
only chance. She said she tried to get into races, but she couldn't get in
any races; the only race that would her in was the L.A. Marathon, so she
talks high of the L.A. Marathon and the chance."
Korir noted that "Running the L.A. Marathon is one of my goals; I really
want to run in the L.A. Marathon as far as I can do it. But also one thing
that I want to do in my life is try to help the poor. I feel like there are
three ways that I always think about fighting poverty in Kenya.
"One of them is through education, by providing them with education, the
young people with education. With me, if it wasn't for education – I was
born in a poor family – I wouldn't be where I am right now, conversing with
you and talking about this. The one thing I want to provide for people is a
chance, giving someone a second chance or a last chance to be able to
redeem themselves through education, the way to L.A. Marathon did to me,
and to Edna, providing us with a chance to express ourselves.
"Also through health care, by building a hospital. Right now, I am doing a
project of finishing up a Mission hospital in my area; [U.S. marathon star]
Ryan Hall is helping me raise money for that. You can go to
TheStepsFoundation.org, and then you go to 26.2 Challenge; we are trying to
use that for the hospital project. I really want to do that because of
where I came from. My brother was killed by snakebite when I was young
because of the lack of health care and lack of hospital availability; he
wasn't able to make it to the nearest hospital because it was really far
"Another thing I want to do is help the poor through making them
self-sufficient, providing them with capital, those who are able to do
farming, providing them with capital to start themselves off, support
themselves in the future and support their families. If we can combine all
those, I feel like we can really fight poverty well in Kenya."
For the March 20 race, however, he has shorter-term goals. "I need a
Macintosh computer. My agent [Karen Locke] has offered me a deal: she told
me if I run 2:07 in the marathon, she is going to buy me a new
Macintosh...I've never owned a Macintosh computer before, but my computer
now is not working well, so that's what I am going for."