A large proportion of media reports on running and running commentaries usually refer to Kenyan runners as a pack, “the Kenyans”. Consequently, the individual stories of Kenyan runners — who they are, what they do, what influences them and their dreams and aspirations — remain untold. These individual stories are an important part of understanding the drive that underpins Kenyan running excellence.
At Enda, we work hand in hand with young and upcoming Kenyan athletes to make world-class running shoes. Our athletes come from different backgrounds and their individual feedback is critical to the final fit and function of the shoes we make. To change the narrative of “the Kenyans”, we are honoured to introduce to you the four athletes that are currently wear-testing our next product, a high mileage trainer.
20-year-old Faith Jesang is a student at South East Kenya University, pursuing a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She was born and raised in Kipkalwa village, Elgeyo Marakwet county as the 11th among 12 children. Given that both her parents were athletes, it came as no surprise that she too followed the path of running.
Her first experience in running began out of curiosity when she was about seven years old and was just joining lower primary. Like many schools in Kenya, Faith’s primary school had weekly cross country games and she would see many of her older schoolmates run past their home. One day, she decided to join them. No one stopped her from running with the older pupils, so Faith kept on following them in the weekly cross-country runs, developing a liking to the sport. She took part in track races in her upper primary but when the pressure of school caught up, she took a break and decided to focus on her studies. This went on into her high school years and she managed to score well in her national examinations to gain entry into university.
With a brilliant mind and a strong talent in running, Faith is confident that she can qualify for a student scholarship. Many of her friends have received scholarships to US universities and she hopes to join them. It will also be a dream come true for her and her family as three of her siblings have also tried but did not succeed.
Currently, Faith has put a hold to her studies in university and is focusing her energy on running, hoping that she will get a chance to join her friends in the US, where she would like to pursue a career in nursing. She trains three times a day at Kapkoi Athlete and Leadership Academy Center.
Daniel Simiyu Ebenyo
Daniel is a resilient 20-year-old athlete from Marti, Isiolo county. Having lost his father early in life to cattle rustling, he was raised by his mother and later, grandmother. He had a tough childhood and had to graze cows or fetch water for others to get by, barely managing to go to school.
It was an act of courage when one day his high school’s game teacher, Mr. Maurice Osuma, asked if there was anyone who wanted to take part in cross-country competition. Daniel was the only one, in his class — to the amusement of others — who stepped forward to the challenge. Not only did he represent his school, but that’s when his running journey began. Running to and from school, many times without shoes, Daniel kept running. After completing high school, he got into road races and had his first appearance at the 2018 Amazing Maasai Marathon where he came first in the 10km race at an impressive 33 minutes and 52 seconds, the fastest time ever for the Marathon.
Despite a difficult time growing up, relying on friends and well-wishers to get by, Daniel believes that he has a bright future in his running career and is not about to give up yet. He aspires to participate in international races and also become a role model for other upcoming athletes especially those from pastoralist communities like him.
Susy Chebet Chemaimak
29-year-old Susy is a hardworking mother of two girls and a General Police Office in Kesses Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county. She comes from Kopsiro village in the Mt. Elgon region but currently resides in Eldoret.
Susy has fond memories of when she would accompany her father, also a police officer like herself, for jogging when she was still a young girl. This was where she discovered the joy of running. It was not until much later in life, when she was working in Eldoret, that she went back to running, this time to shed off some weight and keep fit. Seeing the benefit of running, Susy moved into cross-country running in 2012 for recreational purposes but it was when she finished 9th position at a cross-country competition in Chepkoilel that she realised that she could actually, take up running as a profession alongside her main job.
This decision has made it possible for her to take care of and educate her daughters; a job she does single-handedly and which would have been almost impossible if she relied only on her salary as a police officer.
While Susy has taken part in many competitions since she began running, her best one was the 2018 Port Elizabeth half marathon in South Africa where she achieved her personal best of 01:12:00. She is currently training for the upcoming Abu Dhabi marathon in December, which will be her first full marathon, and hopes to run under 2 hours 30 minutes. Her goals are to join the elite field of women marathoners and also to run a marathon under 2:19.
Kenneth is a passionate young 26-year-old athlete born and raised in Sergoit village, Elgeyo Marakwet county. Like many current athletes, he began running while in high school — Cheptil Secondary school- where sports, especially athletics, was highly encouraged and supported. While participating in athletics competitions in school was not necessarily fun, it showed him that he had the potential to make it in running.
Kenneth is smart and believes he could have taken up another career path altogether if he wanted to. But he chose to take up running as a profession, after encouragement from his father, a retired athlete and also his mentor. He has a deep passion for the sport and even though he has been nursing an ankle injury for over a year, he remains optimistic that his running career is bright. His view on the injury is one all runners should heed: it’s just a minor obstacle that will be overcome.
So far, he has participated in 2016 Standard Chartered Nairobi Half marathon where he finished third in 1:03:27. He has also taken part in Khon Kaen and Buriram half marathons in Thailand where he came in the top three positions in 2017 and 2018 consecutively. He trains in Iten two to three times a day and is hoping to one day run a half marathon under an hour and a marathon under 2 hours 08 minutes.
Other than running, Kenneth enjoys cycling and playing basketball.