Looking at all marathons and long-distance running competitions, most of the winners are Kenyans from the Kalenjin community.
Some of the world champions from the community include Eliud Kipchoge, who is referred to as “the greatest marathoner of the modern era”; Wilson Kipsang, who has run under 2 hours 4 minutes for the marathon on four separate occasions; and Vivian Cheruiyot, who won the 2018 London Marathon.
They have not only won but have broken records over and over again to the point, many people ask: what is their secret? According to scientists, the Kalejins have genes that make them the best runners in the world.
The European studies indicated that the Kalenjin have less mass for their height, longer legs, shorter torsos, and more slender limbs. https://youtu.be/DWnsIvmUPDo
These features have been described as “bird-like,” which indicate that they make them more efficient runners, especially over long distances.
According to another researcher, David Epstein “Thin ankles and calves, a body build common to Nilotic tribes who grow up near the equator is particularly important in running because your leg is like a pendulum.
The more weight you have farther away from your center of gravity, the more difficult it is to swing.” Most Kalejins come from the Kenyan highlands in the Rift Valley region. The highlands feature high elevation, flat land, and mild weather all year round making it perfect for outdoor running.
The scientists believe that a combination of geography, culture, and food is an important factor in making them the best runners. According to Kenyan geneticist Dr. Paul Nthakanio, a senior lecturer at Embu University College: “The environment may induce some genes to express more efficiently.
At other times, the environment can make some genes switch off and other times it makes some genes switch on. This is a condition referred to as epigenetics.”
It is believed that one of the aspects that influence their prowess of the Kalenjin is that most of them used to run long-distance to school barefoot.
They also did the same when it came to running errands such as fetching water and taking care of animals.
Such activities make it easier for them to train their muscles. It is why most of the professional training start as young as 14.
The food, which is usually organic and natural, is also influential in their general well-being. All these factors are not helpful if one does not have the talent. Dr. Nthakanio states that talent is an aptitude, which cannot be inherited.
There needs to be something special in an individual to put to work all these aspects to make them great athletes.
Most of these Kalenjin runners have been training hard over the years to earn the endurance and physical ability to outlast other runners. One of the most famous training areas in Kenya is Iten, where British athletes like Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe train before competitions. The most important aspect of training includes understanding the body to learn when to slow down and speed up.
Some athletes, like Kipchoge, log in their training every day as they prepare for marathons, and it shows how hard they push their bodies to achieve worldly success.