Tuesday, September 4, 2018

An Honest Hero: memories of Major Paul Koech


While we at Kimbia feel the sharp sadness of Paul Koech’s passing, we continue to be inspired by his integrity, conviction, and quiet humbleness. Koech (pictured above with his wife, Zipporah) was a much-loved figure in the sport, one known and respected far and wide for his achievements on the track but more so for his kind, compassionate behavior off it.

As such, we are delighted to share a few words below by Anders Samuelson, an English teacher at Freeport High School in Freeport, Maine.  In 2011, during the winter of his junior year at Bowdoin College, Samuelson spent three months living with the Koech Family and helping out in various English classes at Major Koech’s primary school, Silgich Academy.  Samuelson says of the Koechs, “I don’t think they really had any idea who I was when I arrived, but they trusted Tommy, and welcomed me into their home like family.  I am forever grateful for my time at Silgich, and in the wake of Major Paul’s passing, am reminded of what a miracle he created there in the quiet corn fields of Kipsomba.”

 An Honest Hero

In running, as is the case in life, the best ones dress simple, keep quiet, and work hard.  Major Paul was one of the best: 26:36 in Brussels, 12:56 in Zurich; the man could positively haul. Some of us would create bona fide monuments around those times; hang-the-lucky-singlet-over-the-mantle kind of things.  But to Major Paul, those impossible times were but numbers; to flash briefly on a scoreboard, smile at while cooling down, and then forget about. For as Major Paul knew, life is about so much more than PRs, and miles logged.

When I think of Major Paul, I think of him in his worn, red Bata flip-flops, a pair of “smart trousers” and a loose fitting button-up.  (I suppose just about everything was loose fitting on Major Paul; just like he was impossibly fast, he was always impossibly fit..). When he was home on his farm with Zipporah and his children, he seemed to love the simple things: checking on his chickens, chatting with the manure guys, and drinking chai.


Paul Koech pictured with students of the SilGich Hill Academy, who he was a huge supporter of throughout the years

I love to think of Major Paul in his favorite lawn chair, pouring Zipporah another cup of chai saying, “chai, chai, chai,” to himself; just in pure celebration of tea’s existence. Major Paul loved his chai. Whenever you drank chai with Paul, he had this great habit of filling any silences with some single word that summed up whatever it was that you had last been talking about.  For instance, if you’d been talking about running, after a few seconds of total silence he’d cross one leg on top of the other, flutter his flip-flop for a second, and then look off into the distance toward Eldoret and say, “sport…” or “training…” and then just let the word hang for a moment.  I would love to have known what Paul was thinking during those pauses.

Kenya has produced hundreds, if not thousands of world-class athletes in the past few decades.  Anyone who’s spent any time in the Rift Valley Province will tell you that the talent is deep.  But I think Major Paul would be the first to remind this generation of Kenyan talent that being an athlete is a responsibility, and wearing one’s national kit is an honor not to be taken lightly.  I think it will be some time before Kenya, or the world sees an athlete and human being so authentically righteous as Paul Koech.

May he rest in peace.

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Quigley hits big personal best in Berlin


Colleen Quigley had a breakthrough performance at the ISTAF Meeting in Berlin on Sunday, the Bowerman Track Club athlete clocking a huge personal best of 9:10.27 to win the women’s 3000m steeplechase.

Quigley had suffered with injury earlier in the summer, forcing her to miss several races in May and June, but she bounced back in fine style in recent weeks. The 25-year-old clocked a lifetime best of 4:03.02 in Poland on her most recent outing before Berlin, and at the old Olympic Stadium in the German capital on Sunday, she seized command of the race midway through and ran out a clear winner, carving five seconds off her previous best.

She will close her season at the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City next weekend.

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Friday, August 31, 2018

Frerichs battles to sixth in Brussels


World silver medallist Courtney Frerichs produced another strong performance to finish sixth at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels on Friday night, the Bowerman Track Club athlete clocking 9:07.07.

The race was won in fine style by world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya, who clocked 8:55.10.

Frerichs has enjoyed a fine season to date and will look to crown a memorable year with another strong showing at the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Full race video from Brussels is below:

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Jager takes third at Diamond League final


Evan Jager produced another fine performance to take third place at the Diamond League final in Zurich on Thursday night, the Bowerman Track Club athlete clocking 8:13.22 to come home third behind world and Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya and Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali.

Jager had not raced since last month, when he clocked a season’s best of 8:01.02 to finish second in Monaco, but there was no rust prevalent when he took to the track in the Letzigrund Stadium to face the world’s best.

Jager moved into position to strike on the final lap but didn’t quite have the gears to match Kipruto and El Bakkali, with Kipruto sprinting to victory in 8:10.15 to take the Diamond League title for 2019.

Full result below:

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Quigley powers to 1500m PR in Poland


Colleen Quigley produced a brilliant performance to take victory over 1500m at the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial in Chorzow, Poland on Wednesday evening a lifetime best of 4:03.02.

After injury earlier in the summer, the Bowerman Track Club athlete has been in resurgent form of late and looks set to finish the season with a flourish. Her previous best for 1500m was the 4:03.93 she ran in Heusden, Belgium last year.

On Wednesday night she came home in front of Sofia Ennaoui, a world-class performer at the distance from Poland, who in recent weeks finished second in the European 1500m final.

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