Friday, December 12, 2008

We Knew Richard Kiplagat Is Special, But Wow…

Richard KiplagatA day with Richard was a Manhattanite’s 40th birthday present!

New York Times story here.

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One Response to “We Knew Richard Kiplagat Is Special, But Wow…”

  1. Jude Wilber says:

    I may have submitted part of this – but I bumped my ketboard and Vista acted on its own to make it all disappear – aargh.

    I am part of community-membership sustainable farm in Hatchville, MA. A rural village in Falmouth. MA. About six of my co-workers are Jamaicans – who are teaching me how to speak Jamaican English. Every three weeks or so during the summer we have Jamaican Grill Night where the ‘Maican Mons cook chicken and vegetables in the ‘jerk’ style. We draw 250-500 people. Parking all the vehicles is challenging. I was on parking duty last Wednesday. One good thing about this is that you get to meet everyone. I met a very congenial fellow townsman named Ned Farr (?). You meet everyone – but don’t always remember their names! We had a nice chat. Later I saw him and his family escorting some folks that I immediately recognized as Native African – probably Kenyans. I am very interested in the Kenyan runners as we see them each year here at the Falmouth Road Race. I am a life-long daily runner. I am 57 and 2009 is my 40th year running. I am still good for an 8-minute pace over about 4-5 miles. I am also a professional writer (regular eclectic column in the Falmouth Bulletin etc). When I asked Mr. Farr he said told me unassumingly that the male was a world-class distance runner. I had already drafted two article about the Kenyan runners for publication around road-race weekend. I had even forgone the the race myself the last few years so I could study the lead pack. The Road-Race weekend is the focus event of the entire summer season. I approached the man and introduced myself. He was with his wife, a young girl and was holding a young male child -less than one-year old. I asked him his name and did not recognize it since of course Richard is so young and new to the international circuit. But he was totally outgoing to me. And then I challenged him to a half-mile race. He laughed heartily – not in a demeaning way – just found it very humorous. I spoke with him for ten minutes or so. He was articulate, knowledgable, and altogether charming. Also very patient with a guy like me!! I told he had to race me so that I could tell everyone that I had run against him for maybe 20 strides… He laughed again. But it was not to be. He claimed he was “out-of-shape” (yeah- right) and would not let go his infant son. So I bet him $1000 on the Falmouth Raod Race! He really laughed at that and said: “Thank you very much.” He told me about his life in Kenya, his training there and about the realities of the running in the lead pack. He described the incredible competition and how everyone in the pack knew almost every stride the others made. He related how he had recently finished 5th in a race under extremely hot, humid conditions. He said he could remember little after the 7K mark. He was at 9.5K and saw the finish line as a “stable point” – like he was making no progress at a 4:40 pace! He said the next thing he knew he was in the tent being rehydrated. In studyig the Kenyans I have watched them at every point in the Race. I have seen this incredible awareness in the lead pack. And the deceptive speed. At three miles I have heard onlookers say:”Why they aren’t running that fast”. Until they are gone before the sentence is completed. He was very knowledgable about farming and of course has spoken out about malnutrition in his country. He is a very confident – not at all arrogant man – and I think that we will see that in his performances in the future.
    One last thing. My brother is named Randy Wilber. He is the Chief Physciologist with the US Olympic Traning Center in Colorado Springs. Aerobic atheletes only inthe Wilber Performance Lab. He is internally known and has traveled everywhere to speak and to learn. He was on every TV channel in every nation in the world following the infamous “mask” event in Beijing. He had designed the masks and had given each aerobic athelete the option of wearing them into Bejing – where he had spend most of the last 3 years assessing air and water quality at the different venues. It was his data and recommendation that led the US team to be housed in Korea… He was almost singel handely responsible for restoring a US presence in the Marathon for the Greek games. (You can google him for a full resume.) I – being his older brother am overwhelmingly proud of him. And he has told me that the singlemost interesting place he has ever been was Kenya. There he spoke a number of times but extended his stay to take incredible journys to visit the villages that produced the top runners like the Kipligats. He was amazed at what these atheltes had overcome to ‘appear’ and then ‘take over’ global distance running. In just 2 decades! Immediately after sending this I will email him the full story also. Imagine – on a farm in Hatchville, MA, on Jamiacan Grill Night – here comes Richard Kipligat and his family strolling anonymously through the fields to run-into a writer preparing copy on him and his countrymen!! And by the way – he was not out of shape…