Kenyan marathon runners struggle to maintain edge

Sports Saturday 02/May/2020 16:35 PM
By: Times News Service
Kenyan marathon runners struggle to maintain edge

Nairobi: Albert Korir, Henry Kiprop and Felix Kandie are professional marathon runners. Under normal circumstances, each of them would run 180 to 300 kilometres (111 to 186 miles) every week as part of their usual training routines. However, as in most other countries, Kenya's government has implemented restrictions of movement in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
This means Kenyan athletes, like Korir, Kiprop and Kandie, are now forced to train alone, and the restrictions have also forced them to roll back their training regimes – by as much as 200 kilometres less than prior to the pandemic. The sudden reduction in training doesn't come without risks.
"I went from 200 to 50 kilometres a week, so I am worried," Albert Korir told DW. "When you start active training again you might get injuries."
Korir usually runs two marathons a year. In 2019 he finished first in Houston and second in New York – while setting a personal best in the Canadian capital, Ottawa. Even though the restrictions on movement in Kenya have only been in place for a few weeks, the 26-year-old has already noticed that his fitness is starting to suffer.
"When you're training you breathe hard. Your body is not fit like before, like when you were training hard," he said. "There's even been some changes like weight gain."
Trimming their distances isn't the only problem; elite runners usually train in camps with up to 50 other competitors, but now many are forced to train alone.
Individual workouts
For Felix Kandie the coronavirus couldn't have come at a worse time. He had been looking forward to running in what would have been his third Boston Marathon this year. But on April 20, the day when it was originally scheduled for, Kandie was at home and speaking to DW – as the coronavirus had forced this year's Boston Marathon to be postponed.
"Now I would have been in Boston racing in a few hours. I would have been warming up," he said.
Kandie could get another shot if the Boston Marathon goes ahead in September, as organisers are hoping. But when the coronavirus outbreak started, he had already completed 80 per cent of his training programme in preparation for the event. Last year the 33-year-old had an incredible campaign, placing fourth in the Boston marathon and fifth in Berlin.