Ngong, Kenya – The town of Ngong awakens early, well before the sun, as many of its 57,000 residents must commute into Nairobi for work. And with major road construction along the Langata Road into the capital advancing at a snail’s pace this summer – workers are replacing the porous roadbed of black cotton soil with the more compact sub-structure of red clay – the morning commute is and will be even more congested through the next several months.
Ngong is a bustling town near the Ngong Hills, training home to a number of Kenya’s top distance runners, including marathon world record holder Patrick Makau. Today, we have scheduled to meet Makau and his group at 6:10 a.m. at the Corner Shop, a tiny convenience store just a few hundred meters down from Ngong Center. (more…)
Honolulu, Hawaii — It’s a push-me, pull-you kind of world. On one hand the demands of elite long distance running remain constant, requiring an all but monastic focus on the rigors of training. But on the other hand the demands of the marketplace in which running finds itself in a hurly-burly competition against the media-savvy marketers of the PGA, NBA, and numerous other sports, require athletes to step out of their monk-like lairs to promote and market themselves and their sport like true professionals.
This week in Honolulu we are seeing evidence that even one of the most cloistered of athletes by nature, marathon world record holder Patrick Makau of Kenya, is making attempts to reconcile these competing demands of his sport. So even as he prepares for an important tune up for the April 21stVirgin London Marathon in tomorrow’s second annual Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half-Marathon, he spent yesterday and this morning tending to his branding and promotion efforts by appearing at a local high school, conducting a live Facebook Q & A with fans, and joining local runners in a morning fun run hosted by the Hapalua Half.
“When you have someone like Patrick Makau at your event,” explained Honolulu Marathon President Jim Barahal, organizer of The Hapalua, “when you invest in an athlete of that caliber, it’s important that he not be seen as separate. So you have him interact with the everyday runners as much as you can to close the gap between them. Nowadays it’s the opposite of the loneliness of the long distance runner. Today, running is a highly social sport. So it’s important to bring the pros to everyone else so they become part of the community, which itself is a world-wide, and no longer fragmented into separate local communities.” (more…)