Korir Part 2: Mind Over Distance

Friday, April 27th, 2012

When Wesley Korir won the Boston Marathon earlier this month, it undoubtedly changed his life in ways he had never imagined.

I wrote about Korir, a Louisville resident, who attended both Murray State University and the University of Louisville, in a Bill’s Eye blog post earlier this week.

Korir, a native of Kenya, has made a practice of donating much of his prize winnings to a foundation he and his wife have created to assist kids in his hometown. They are supporting 40 students today, and next year he wants to increase that number to 80.

The day Korir won the Boston Marathon, the Boston Globe ran a piece on their opinion page titled “Minds Built to Go the Distance.” Farah Stockman had taught English in Kenya for several years. She was curious about why Kenyans ran so well, so fast. Stockman began to look into the science of running in Kenya. Some studies reported it was their native diet; others insisted it was a genetic gift of lean bodies and wiry legs. But, according to her report, those theories fail to account for perhaps the most important factors: the marathoner’s brain, and his or her concept of distance itself.

Isn’t that an amazing finding? Because the Kenya kids walked and ran everywhere—miles and miles to school and back home, to the market for food, to church—as children, their brains were trained for endurance and stamina.

Starting young makes a difference. Just ask Wesley Korir.

Stockman closes her piece in the newspaper with this: “In marathons, as in life, the ability to go the distance is so often in our minds.”

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