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Old 11-02-2014, 11:32 AM
 
Location: West Coast of Europe
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They were reporting on the NY marathon on the radio today and while two Kenyan women won, all they were talking about was the third-placed Portuguese. Since this is Portugal, I understand that, of course. Still, it is not the first time I noticed that the world seems to reduce Africans to sports and arts.

In track and field, few people care about the African winners, they are taken for granted and people don't bother to even remember their names. They are viewed almost as interchangeable running machines. What matters to most people are the first non-Africans in the ranking.

Does their success even hurt Africa's reputation? There are a lot of people who think like, Africans are physically superior, whites and Asians mentally. As if that were of the same value...

Others blame their success on doping and unfair training rather than genetics, of course.


Or is it that people outside Africa simply don't care about African success because they are of different countries, i.e. because of patriotism/nationalism? I mean, to a certain extent US Americans do care about their black athletes, although there is also quite some "positive racism" involved.
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Old 11-03-2014, 01:43 PM
 
Location: Eindhoven, Netherlands
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For me its not a surprise Africans are great at running but why is it that Kenyans are so good at this?
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Old 11-03-2014, 02:06 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davy-040 View Post
For me its not a surprise Africans are great at running but why is it that Kenyans are so good at this?
It's not just Kenyans, it's Ethiopians, too. Some cultures have a tradition of running. Native Americans are quite good, too. On the rare occasion they've entered the Olympics, they've always won. Going for long runs in nature is a millennia-old tradition. It's how far-flung settlements communicated with each other. Running was and still is regarded as a sacred vocation, a form of prayer.
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Old 11-03-2014, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Old Bellevue, WA
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Most of the Kenyan runners come from one particular tribe, the Kalenjin (not Pres. Obama's ancestral tribe btw). Their total population is estimated at 5 million. Their level of dominance in distance running is insane, given their numbers.
How One Kenyan Tribe Produces The World's Best Runners | WBUR & NPR

I think there are a combination of reasons for it. They grow up at altitude, which means that their bodies adapt to become more efficient at processing oxygen, which is the number one factor in distance running. Their typical body type is perfect for running--small slender and long legs. The best body type for a male runner is probably 5'5"-5'7", 120-130 lbs.
How One Kenyan Tribe Produces The World's Best Runners | WBUR & NPR

A lot of people believe that use of performance enhancing drugs (PED's) is rife right now. There's a guy here in Seattle who has won the Seattle marathon 9 or 10 times, and his wife is a college track coach. I asked them what they thought was behind all the records being set, esp. in the marathon. They both answered: drugs.

I think that much of the answer is just the magic of competition. Running is their national sport, and every kid grows up competing with his fellow Kenyan runners just as every kid in inner city Chicago or NY grows up competing w/ his cohorts in basketball. Competition breeds greatness. If one guy is running 4:42 min/miles in the marathon, somebody else is going to will themselves to meet that bar. Then another, and another. Kenyans are big on group training. That also engenders a spirit of competition. A lot of American runners train solo. There was even a book or movie entitled 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner' or some such thing. Not in Kenya.

I don't see how it is anything but a huge plus for Kenya (and Ethiopia) that they excel at running. It puts them on the map, at least for millions of runners around the world. It gives some of their people the opportunity to travel that they would not otherwise have. Many Kenyan and Ethiopian runners have been able to launch charitable enterprises due to their status as elite world-class runners.
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Old 11-03-2014, 07:05 PM
 
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To answer your question I would guess that overall the effect on African nations is positive as it allows champions like Paul Tergat or Mo Farah (who was one of the "lost boys" of Somalia) to bring international attention to poverty in Africa. It is also true that schools have been funded and business enterprises started by people such as Haile Gebraselassie with the prize money earned by running.

If your question refers to whether it is good for track and field (and for road running, since you mentioned the marathon) then I would say probably not.
But Australia and the US dominate swimming, the US, China and Russia dominate gymnastics, New Zealand, in spite of its tiny population, dominates rugby, the Dutch dominate speed skating, Jamaica excels at sprinting and so on. This does not seem to have harmed these sports. Of course I am overstating things here to make a point, but it does seem that certain nations are especially strong at particular sports, and this cannot usually be explained by one simple reason.

Performance enhancing drugs have recently become a problem for Athletics Kenya; in fact Rita Jeptoo just tested positive for EPO after winning the Chicago marathon, and may lose a $500,000 prize from the World Marathon Majors for three wins in major events over the past two years.
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Old 11-20-2014, 02:30 PM
 
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Ethiopians , Sudanese, Somalese , Tanzanians, Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians are all great at track and field ,it is not a Kenyan specificity ,it's an African specificity
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Old 11-20-2014, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Old Bellevue, WA
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Kenyans dominate in distance running, which of course is just a segment of track and field. Other countries do have great distance runners, but take a look at the 10 fastest marathons run on record eligible courses (some courses such as Boston are not record-eligible).

Eight of the 10 fastest times are by Kenyans. Number 6 and 8 are by Ethiopians.
The World's Fastest Marathons (and Marathoners) | Runner's World & Running Times

Note that it's not the case on the female side. There are female runners from around the globe in the top 10 list, and the world record is still held by Brit Paula Radcliffe.
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Old 11-22-2014, 05:08 AM
 
Location: Sweden
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Records for long distance events

5000 metres
Mens: Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia)
Womens: Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia)

10,000 metres
Mens: Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia)
Womens: Wang Junxia (China)

Marathon
Mens: Dennis Kimetto (Kenya)
Womens: Paula Radcliffe (UK)

One hour run
Mens: Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia)
Womens: Dire Tune (Ethiopia)

Who said it's just Kenyans that are so good at long distance :roll eyes: In fact, Ethiopians are better on the whole. Kenyans are good at marathons. In a normal race there is normally more Kenyans than Ethiopians...
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Old 11-27-2014, 04:49 PM
 
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Ethiopia has exceptional quality athletes but not the depth of Kenya. If you look at not just the world record in an event but the top 10 or top 50 times in that event you get a different picture. (Not that this contradicts your point- just a different way of looking at the question!) Obviously, both nations have great runners.
Japan is also very strong at the marathon and distance running is a popular spectator sport with good television coverage, particularly the corporate and university ekiden (relay team) events.


The record by Wang Junxia should be disregarded as it is obviously ridiculous. The splits showed 15:02/14:26 for the first and second halves of the race, the latter being 25 seconds faster than her PB for 5,000m. Imagine what her time would have been with better pacing! She also ran the last 3,000 in 8:17, under the world record set by an eastern bloc doper, and broke this record again two days later. She was one of 27 Chinese athletes who did not compete at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, by which time a reliable test for EPO had been developed. Her coach Ma Junren was dismissed.
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Old 11-28-2014, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Sweden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geezerrunner View Post
Ethiopia has exceptional quality athletes but not the depth of Kenya. If you look at not just the world record in an event but the top 10 or top 50 times in that event you get a different picture. (Not that this contradicts your point- just a different way of looking at the question!) Obviously, both nations have great runners.
Japan is also very strong at the marathon and distance running is a popular spectator sport with good television coverage, particularly the corporate and university ekiden (relay team) events.


The record by Wang Junxia should be disregarded as it is obviously ridiculous. The splits showed 15:02/14:26 for the first and second halves of the race, the latter being 25 seconds faster than her PB for 5,000m. Imagine what her time would have been with better pacing! She also ran the last 3,000 in 8:17, under the world record set by an eastern bloc doper, and broke this record again two days later. She was one of 27 Chinese athletes who did not compete at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, by which time a reliable test for EPO had been developed. Her coach Ma Junren was dismissed.
If you look at the top 10 for 5000 and 10,000, there's just as many Ethiopians as there are Kenyans. Most people think Kenyans are the better runners mostly because there are so many of them in a single race, but I think Ethiopia brings out the athletes of good quality.
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