Monday, April 16, 2012

Wesley Korir

I had a few people I was cheering for today in Boston. Most of the Americans who made the Olympics are deep into training. All the ones who didn't have switched their workouts to try for the 5 or 10 in track. That left a pretty lousy US turnout. Then I saw Wesley. Figured I had to get on here and tell my Wesley story.

When I was a graduate student there was this horribly rude and arrogant kenyan runner who ran for Lindenwood University. His name is Soimo Kiplagat. One of the first races of the year he was quite physical with our tiny Kenyan runner Francis Kioko. A few of our better Kenyan runners were red shirting the Cross season so our team (which was normally quite strong) was about as wimpy as it had ever been. Soimo ran the 8k course blowing kisses to the crowd. Making hand gestures to Francis. Slowing down to taunt him. All kinds of horrible things that even his own coach reprimanded him for.

I wasn't in shape to be racing because Dmitry and I had just returned from Russia and I was allowing myself to get horribly out of shape. I wasn't happy about Francis beating me, but I was really unhappy about such a jerk like Soimo beating me and taunting everyone while doing it. I set to work training myself silly for a bit. I wasn't sure I could beat Soimo.....but I figured if I was at least fast enough for him to try the stuff on me that he did to Francis that I could enforce a little Cross-Country justice when we went into the woods.

About a month later we were at a meet where Virginia Intermont was supposed to be there. I was desperatly hoping Fernando Cabada, David Cheromei, and Corey Duquette would be there to assist me. I pictured us working together to kick his ass so we could all blow him kisses. Unfortunately they brought their "B" team to the race. So it looked like it was just Francis and I....and a probable repeat of the humilitation we'd already recieved from Soimo.

When Francis and I were warming up a friendly Kenyan came over to run with us. He was interested to know about the course because it was so muddy. He was amazed that a white guy was running barefoot. I had done a lot of workouts there and was planning to race barefoot. I often ran extremely muddy races without shoes (bez shipofki). I just felt faster and actually felt that I had better traction. Vladimir Golias had talked me into doing it once. At the time I was worried about it, but I decided anyone who can run 8:16 in the steeplechase must know what they're doing. Anyways....that fellow who came and ran the warmup with us (and ended up racing barefoot that day as well) was Wesley Korir.

We all lined up. Soimo doing his best to be a complete jerk. Francis and I determined to show him who was boss. Instead the gun went off and promptly Wesley went to work showing each and every one of us just who the real boss was. I think he ran 24:15, Soimo ran 25:08, I ran 25:12...(GRRRrrrrr!), and Francis 25:14. Soimo didn't blow any kisses at least. Boy did I want to be Wesley that day :-) I think we ran the first 2 mile right around 4:58 and then Wesley just hammered like a 4:30. It was amazing. It seemed he didn't even have to slow down for the corners. like he was floating. I'm not exactly sure of the times...but I know he beat me by just over a minute for 8k.

Anyways, after that Wesley and Francis became pretty good friends. Each meet we'd run into Wesley and do the warmup and cooldown. (He ran for Louisville, not Illinois as the announcers said during the race) I can't say we were friends or that I REALLY knew him. I knew he was/is a really, really nice guy. So today....when I saw him at mile 6 milling around in the pack I started to cheer for him. When he made that courageous move after heartbreak to bridge I was pumped. When he put the nail in the coffin on Hereford street......I almost gave away that I was live streaming the race at work.

That was awesome!! Way to go Wesley :-) Blow all the kisses you want man...because you've earned it.

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