Over 50,000 runners participated in the New York City Marathon. All of them put in the long hours of work ranging from dedicated workouts to disciplined diets. Some of them did it for fun while others were on a mission. The men’s Lelisa Desisa and women’s Mary Keitany won respectively in their division less than 2 hours and 30 minutes. Not only did they win for themselves but in reality represent the best from Africa.
Desisa of Ethiopia, East Africa, finished the race in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 59 seconds. He always wanted to be a champion and finally that dream came true. Ethiopia is trying to have freedom and democracy in its country. This race can be some sort of motivation factor for the people that are fighting for it. The last year’s winner, Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya, finished third. But what’s great about this is that the top five finishers came from Ethiopia and Kenya. They are showing off their athleticism and toughness in a country known for speed on the biggest NYC event.
Geography plays a big factor in their success. According to Mpora, the exposure of mountain air with endurance training increases red blood cells. When there is more red blood cells in an individual’s body, it has more “oxygen-storing hemoglobin” passing through the veins. This also means that carbon dioxide can pass more efficiently through the body. But history also factors this in as well.
“Among the many means of subjugating Africans in aiding and abetting the maintenance of imperial rule was athletics,” said John Bale and Joe Sang in the book, Kenyan Running: Movement Culture, Geography and Global Change. This formed part of the early twentieth century ethos of ‘muscular Christianity’ through which sports were introduced to the African population by the work of mission schools.”
A combination of history and geography gives them an advantage over other countries. This is why they been very successful in not just the marathon, but long and short distance competitions in the Olympics.
Keitany of Kenya, East Africa, finished the race in 2 hours, 22 minutes and 48 seconds. This is the second fastest in history behind Margaret Okayo of Kenya, who holds the record in 2003 at 2 hours, 22 minutes and 31 seconds.
“I can say the course record was not in my mind,” Keitany said according to the Associated Press. “For me, winning was the most important.”
Keitany won her fourth gold medal in the marathon and continues to represent East Africa as well as Desisa. These two and others runners from Africa are showing everyone just how much hard work they put in. 26.2 miles isn’t easy to do and winning it alone takes a lot of will and training for many years.