FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Prague Marathon Favourites
The two Kenyan favourites for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon on Sunday
could not have had more different approaches to their debuts at the
distance. Patrick Ivuti was a reluctant marathoner, who just happened to
run one of the fastest debuts in history; while for Helena Kirop, the
marathon was a survival strategy - literally.
"My husband and I had two small children, no work, and no money," recalled
the 25 year old Kirop in Prague today (Friday). "So we sat down and
discussed what we would do. We saw that marathon runners could earn good
money, so I decided to start running. But where we lived, in Kapenguria was
not at really high altititude, so we moved to Eldoret, so that I could be
among good runners, and I started training."
That was in 2004. Two years later, her promise secured her a race in
Casablanca, where she won in 2.34.43.
Six months later, she went under 2.30, with 2.28.51. Four years on, she is
embarking on her tenth marathon, and her best is down to 2.24.54, from
Dubai in January.
Her husband Peter Lomuria also began running, and got down to 2.13.47, for
second place in Treviso (Italy) 2008, but it was Peter who took
responsibility for overseeing the house they built from their winnings, and
moved into last summer, but also to administer the website for their
extraordinary display of social responsibility, the Helena Kirop
Both had poverty-stricken upbringings, Helena in West Pokot, home also to
Tegla Lorupe ("we are neighbours," says Kirop), and Peter from arid Turkana
in the north. The aim of the foundation, according to their website,
www.helenakiropfoundation.org is to, 'identify the girl child at least from
every poor family within Pokot and Turkana communities and bring them
Kirop herself says, "When you are successful in Kenya many people come to
you, saying, 'assist me, assist me'. If you are tough, no one comes, but I
had to leave school early, my family is poor. I had a moral (obligation) to
They have begun by sponsoring three girls from the Pokot tribe, and intend
to expand the project.
Inspiration from schooling is something that Ivuti recognises, although his
came in a different form. "I'm from Machakos, in Eastern Kenya. Cosmas
Ndeti is from there, but not many other athletes, I was the only one in my
school. But my headmaster, who was also my coach told me I could be good."
"He took me to one of the training camps in Eldoret in the school vacation.
I was there for three weeks, and saw how the big athletes trained, it was a
motivation, and exposure which helped me become a good athlete. Later that
year, I was in the junior world cross country team, in South Africa. I was
the only one from my area who went outside the country, everybody was very
Twice second in the world cross senior, and fourth in the Olympic 10,000
metres in Sydney 2000, Ivuti thought he wasn't quite ready for the marathon
in 2003, when his coach/manager Gabriele Rosa persuaded him to go to
Chicago. He ran 2.07.43.
It's time he says he still intends to improve on, and last year's win here
in Prague was just five seconds shy.
But a recurrent hamstring injury has blighted his training over the last
year. "I've done the whole (training) programme but not at the intensity I
would like. And there's a very good group here this year, better than last
year. I'll try to stay with the group, and get a good time."
Kirop, in contrast was confident enough to let her opponents know, "I'm
ready for 2.25."