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What makes Kenyan runners so talented?

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

I am an avid fan of athletics and endurance sport. The 'marathon' brings both of these aspects together. I wish to hopefully complete one in the future. The Marathon is a popular target for fun runners as well as a serious race distance for elite athletes. Many try but only a few succeed. However, Kenyan athletes have a success in long distance running especially.

In 2018, a Kenyan athlete, Eliud Kipchoge broke the world record in completing a marathon in 2:01:39. He then went on to break the 2 hour marathon barrier in a non-race event held in Vienna. No-one believed this was possible yet he believed in his mindset that anything is possible. He inspires many athletes on the world stage and also me as I am fascinated in the man, the athlete and his drive and look up to Kipchoge as a role model.

He is virtually unbeatable - only losing once in 2013 to another Kenyan athlete. So what makes Kenyan athletes so talented?

Many scientists believe the success of Kenyan athletes is linked to the high altitude of Kenya. At a higher altitude the body produces more and larger red blood cells. Therefore, more oxygen is delivered to the working muscles- so the body does not fatigue as quickly when exercising. This gives the Kenyan athletes a biological advantage which makes them more adapted to long distance running.

Furthermore, many children in Kenya have to run to school each morning for up to 10km. They also have to herd animals and fetch water. This leads to a high aerobic capacity making them better long distance runners.

Some scientists also argue that Kenya's success in long distance runner is linked to their diet which is low in fats but high in carbohydrates. It usually consists of porridge, leafy vegetables and eggs. This diet is protein rich which is key for an athlete's diet.

These factors explain and contribute to the success of Kenyan athletes in long distance running.

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