Runner sets goal to become president

2013-03-10 10:00

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When he prepares to defend his Boston Marathon title on April 15, Wesley Korir will be wearing another cap as well – he will be the first Kenyan marathoner also to hold a political seat.

Korir was elected as a member of parliament in Kenya’s 2013 general election, joining former Boston Marathon champion Elijah Lagat, who was elected in 2007.

By being elected to parliament, the 28-year-old Korir will not only shoulder the burden of representing his constituents in parliament but will also have to find time away from his new career as a politician to train, a task he says he will be able to manage.

“My people have given me a perfect gift that will inspire me as I compete in Boston and do my best. Now that I’m done with political campaigns and have won, I am shifting to training.

“I will be spending most of my time in Iten where I want to be in shape for a successful defence of my Boston Marathon title,” says Korir, who completed Form Four (Grade 11) in 2002 at St Joseph’s Kitale.

“I will do my best to serve the people of Cherangany. That’s the only way I can appreciate them.”

He says he has bigger ambitions – to become president of Kenya one day. He has invested to improve the lives of his village mates in Biribiriet, building a clinic, underwriting the education of some of its children and paying for the food of orphans his mother takes into her home.

Korir is not alone on the list of athletes elected to various political positions at the just-concluded Kenyan election.

Others are Boston Marathon runner-up Christopher Cheboiboch, who won a county assembly representative seat; and Charles Cherono, a former marathoner and the husband of former world cross-country junior silver medallist Prisca Jepleting.

Born to an impoverished family in Kenya’s Rift Valley and like many other Kenyan athletes, Korir would run eight kilometres each way to school, often running back for lunch or to do errands for his mother.

However, he never ran competitively until after high school, when he was guided to the US by 1988 Olympic 800m champion Paul Ereng.

Despite a solid college career at Murray State and the University of Louisville, Korir was forced to make his marathon debut at the 2008 Chicago Marathon.

Running alone from the start, he clocked the fourth-fastest time that day (2:13:53).

He followed that with back-to-back wins at the Los Angeles Marathon before his win in Boston last year.

As he prepares for the Boston Marathon, Korir says he will use his contacts abroad to better the lives of his people back home, all the time setting his sights on one day becoming Kenya’s president.

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