Category Archives: Athletics

Athletics, Mitchell’s Plaini

Why Kenyans are good at marathons


The most common reason put forward is being born at altitude. Many runners hail from regions above 5,000ft. Certainly, living in the thin air helps. Athletes find themselves stronger, especially when they return to the abundant oxygen at sea level.


Most Kenyans have run since their younger days – up to 40km a day. Former 3,000m world record-holder Daniel Komen says: “Every day I used to milk the cows, run to school, run home for lunch, back to school, home, tend the cows. This is the Kenyan way.”


Many sports scientists believe that the carbohydrate-rich diet consumed by Kenyans might play its part in their success. Even when competing in the west they prefer to eat their starchy dish of ugali, which is maize flour cooked with water.


The riches gained from track and field are a huge incentive as one big win could turn their lives around. Prize money and endorsements can be substantial – buying a farm for around US$20,000 will set up an athlete for life.


A landscape of rolling hills is a perfect environment. Warm days followed by cool nights and low humidity provide the ideal blend. The climate means that Kenyans can train all year round – as in Jamaica with its history of sprinters.


Compared with many African nations, malnutrition is rare in Kenya with life expectancy and literacy among the highest. But Kenya is not economically strong and there something of the “hungry fighter” syndrome among those who take up running.


While the training of an elite long-distance athlete may not differ hugely from one country to another, the Kenyan model has some unique aspects to it, combining huge mileage with massive intensity – a training level which not every athlete can cope with.


Almost three-quarters of all of Kenya’s athletics medals have come from one tribe, the Kalenjins, who live in the lush Nandi district at the edge of the Great Rift Valley in the Kenyan Highlands. The tribe comprise a little over one 10th of the nation’s population.


An expert on Kenyan running, John Manners, says that while most Kalenjins are farmers, their traditional livelihood came from herding or long-distance cattle rustling. The fastest brought home the stolen livestock and the slowest were caught and killed.


Kenyans seem to produce less ammonia, which is what causes fatigue during exercise, and they rely more on fat for fuel rather than protein – which is probably why they do produce less ammonia. Both have benefits for long-distance running.


Kenyan youngsters tend to be thin with spindly legs, though quite healthy. One study shows Kenyans have less mass for their height, longer legs, shorter torsos and slender limbs, traits that make them more efficient over long distances and able to absorb heat.


Whereas in the West the best athletes often go into football, basketball and other ball games, the Kenyan culture, like that of neighbouring Ethiopia – another highly successful producer of marathon and long-distance athletes – is one of running.


Coaches say motivation seems to drive Kenyan athletes more than most think they can endure. Schoolchildren are encouraged to compete against each other at an early age, with prizes up for grabs, so if they are successful they will want to keep training.


A country so rich in raw athletic resources in men and, more recently, women has attracted many of the world’s top coaches, whose expertise helps to refine the technique of home-grown athletes who have now become based in US colleges or in the UK.


Tests show that Kenyan runners can maintain 92 per cent of VO2 max (the maximum capacity of the body to transport and use oxygen during exercise) for extended periods while most other athletes can only manage 87-88 per cent, so they expend less effort.


One top coach – who has at least six world champions on his books – says it takes at least 10 years of training to build enough of an endurance base to allow athletes to excel at long-distance running “but by the time a Kenyan is 16 he is already there”.


The Kenyans often run to orders as a team, showing a discipline – both on and off the track – not always evident among other leading nations. And if you don’t succeed, you go back to cattle farming, while if you do, you can become a wealthy national hero.


For every successful Kenyan athlete, there are 10 others busy training in the hope of achieving the same levels of achievement. For them, making it as a runner, even modestly, is their best means of a chance of escape.


Kenyans don’t understand the fascination with jogging as a leisure pursuit. It is normal for them to train twice a day, six days a week. Some even four times a day. And they all try to out-do one another in terms of who can train the most or the hardest.


Training is done on soft ground, so their joints are spared the impact of running on concrete which improves their elastic rebound, and they are stable runners. They don’t try to build up physical strength through weight-training, leaving their joints more flexible.

TOP 20* (Based on last year’s times)

1 Patrick Makau Musyoki

2 Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich

3 Emmanuel Kipchirchir Mutai

4 Geoffrey Kiprono Mutai

5 Levy Matebo Omari

6 Albert Kiplagat Matebor

7 Wilson Kwambai Chebet

8 Vincent Kipruto

9 Moses Cheruiyot Mosop

10 Martin Lel

11 Jafred Chirchir Kipchumba

12 Laban Korir

13 Erick Ndiema

14 Philip Kimutai Sanga

15 Wesley Korir

16 Nathaniel Kipkosgei

17 Bernard Kiprop Kipyego

18 Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot

19 Benjamin Kolum Kiptoo

20 Peter Cheruiyot Kirui

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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Athletics


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Who will be the star of the Games?

The world’s greatest athletes descend on London in July for the 2012 Olympics. Reuters’ Martyn Herman highlights 10 to watch when the Games get underway:

Usain Bolt (athletics): The face of the Beijing Olympics where the Jamaican sprinter’s jaw-dropping speed earned him three golds in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay and three world records.

He has been pretty much unbeatable when it matters since, winning the five golds from the last two world championships – his only blemish coming in Daegu where he was disqualified after false-starting in the 100m.

Tickets to watch Bolt race in London will be like gold dust, but those with seats better not be late as some predict, if he is firing on all cylinders, he can lower his 100m world record mark below 9.5 seconds.

Yelena Isinbayeva (athletics): The Russian manages to combine grace and power in the pole vault to devastating effect, soaring higher and higher since setting her first world record of 4.82 metres in Gateshead in 2003.

Since then she has steadily raised the bar to 5.06 metres, considerably higher than one of London’s famous red double decker buses, claiming five world titles and the Olympic golds in Athens and Beijing.

Phelps_BeijingUS swimmer Michael Phelps has won 16 Olympic medals and looks set to grow that tally.


Should the pole vault queen win in London, when she will have turned 30, she will become the first female track and field athlete to win gold at three consecutive Games.

David Rudisha (athletics): The latest in a long line of Kenyan two-lap specialists, the 23-year-old world record holder will be aiming for his first Olympic gold when he lines up in the 800 metres in London.

Rudisha, a Maasai tribe warrior, set a world record of 1:41.09 in Berlin in 2010 and then a few weeks later lowered it again to 1:41.01. He is the current world champion and was voted world athlete of the year for 2011.

London Olympic chairman Sebastian Coe will have a keen eye on the lanky Rudisha’s performance, having once held the world record over the distance himself. Rudisha said watching videos of Coe inspired him to run.

Nataliya Dobrynska (athletics): All eyes will be on the mourning Ukrainian multi-eventer’s every move as she takes on British darling Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon.

She emerged from nowhere to win the gold in 2008 and again upset the form book at the recent world indoor championships, beating Ennis and Russian world champion Tatyana Chernova to gold in a new pentathlon world record.

Dobrynska suffered heartbreak recently when her husband and coach Dmytro Polyakov died after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Allyson Felix (athletics): The shining star of the U.S. women’s track and field team, she is still without an individual gold at an Olympics, having to make do with silver in the 200m at Athens and Beijing.

The wholesome daughter of a Christian minister in southern California, Felix was denied a fourth successive world championship 200 gold in Daegu last year.

Expect to see a lot of her in London if she doubles up in the 400m and competes in both relays.

Kenenisa Bekele (athletics): Almost lost in the hype surrounding Bolt in Beijing, the Ethiopian’s golden double in the 5,000m and 10,000m was arguably an even greater achievement.

The world record holder at both 5,000 and 10,000, he can justifiably lay claim to being one of the greatest distance runners of all time and will be the man to beat in London if he can arrive fully fit after two years of injury problems.

After pulling up in the 10,000m at the 2011 world championships with a ruptured muscle, his aura of invincibility was under threat and he must decide whether his body can cope with the Olympic double again

Michael Phelps (swimming): Quite simply, American Michael Phelps owned Beijing’s water cube in 2008, his size 14 feet and huge arm span powering him to eight gold medals and sparking endless online chatroom debates about whether he or Usain Bolt deserved to be called the greatest sportsman on earth.

That feat gave him the record for the most gold medals at a single Olympics, beating the seven of Mark Spitz in Munich, and few would bet against him raising his overall haul of 16 Olympic medals in London which he says will be his last Games.

Even a relatively modest haul of two medals of any colour would tie him with the 18 Olympic medals of former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.

Katie Taylor (boxing): Women’s boxing makes its Olympic debut in London and Ireland’s Katie Taylor will get the chance to add to her already groaning trophy cabinet in the ExCel Centre.

A three-times world and five-times European champion already, she has also represented Ireland in soccer and is rightly regarded as one of the Emerald Isle’s greatest sportswmomen.

A devout Christian, she has become something of a celebrity, meeting U.S. president Barack Obama at the White House, starring in a rap video with Tinie Tempah and was last year’s Grand Marshal at Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day parade.

Federica Pellegrini (swimmer): Born near the watery city of Venice she learnt to paddle before she could walk, so it is appropriate that the glamorous Pellegrini has made her name as the her country’s most successful female swimmer.

Won the 200m freestyle in Beijing to become the first Italian woman to win an Olympics swimming gold and currently holds the world record in the 200 and 400 freestyle.

At the Rome world championships she became the first woman to go under four minutes in the 400m.

A magnet for camera lenses, she regularly appears on countless glossy magazine covers.

Mark Cavendish (cycling): The Isle of Man cyclist could get the ball rolling on Britain’s gold medal haul by winning the men’s road race.

He has other things on his mind first, though, as he concentrates on the Tour de France in which he already owns 20 stage wins.

He became the first British cyclist to win the sprinter’s green jersey outright on the Tour last year but gold will be the colour he craves once the Olympic torch is lit.

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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Athletics


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Top Cape event gets new feel

Cape Town – Billed as one of Cape Town’s most popular half marathons, this year’s OUTsurance 94.5 Kfm Gun Run will have a new start and finish with participants lining up outside the Cape Town Stadium in Fritz Sonnenberg Road for the start and finishing in the new Green Point Park.

The event takes place on Sunday 9 October and participants have a choice of either the 21km half marathon, 10km run/walk or the 5km fun run/walk, which is specifically aimed at families, younger participants and walkers.

“We are really excited about this year’s event, especially with the new finish in the park, where there will be some great entertainment lined up for what is expected to be another record field,” said marketing director for OUTsurance, Peter Cronje.

This year also sees the introduction of the RaceTec timing system for the half marathon only.  This is the same timing system used by the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour and offers state of the art technology that will make the processing of results and times far easier and more user-friendly.

Those runners who already have one of these chips can use it for the half marathon, while those that do not have chips will need to purchase one at a cost of R80.  This system is used extensively at various other races around the country, including the 94.7 Cycle Challenge in Johannesburg.

The half marathon route takes the runners through the stadium precinct, V&A Waterfront, past 94.5 Kfm studios, along the Sea Point Promenade and out towards Camps Bay up Kloof Road, which means a few hills along the way but the views certainly make it a bit more bearable.

The 10km will wind its way along the Promenade, through the Waterfront and past Primedia Studios in Somerset Road, while the 5km fun run/walk is routed in and around the Green Point Park with its new walkways around the golf course.

The 21km starts at 07h00, the 10km at 07h30 and the 5km at a new starting time of 08h30.  Cut-off is at 10h00 so participants have ample time to complete their event.  The Cape Field Artillery will again be at the event to fire the gun that starts all three distances and then again at 10h00 to mark the cut-off.

Colleen Louw, station manager for 94.5 Kfm said: “We are proud to be associated with a truly Capetonian event that promotes health and fitness and look forward to giving all involved some much needed support and encouragement on the day.”

Participants can enter online at or pick up an entry form from any Sportsmans Warehouse, where entries will also be taken in store.  Entry forms and all the latest up to date event information can be found at

The Bobs for Good Foundation has been appointed as the official beneficiary for the event.  It is a local non-profit organisation established out of the need to restore dignity and pride to underprivileged learners by giving them a new pair of South African made leather school shoes.

The charity was started by former Springbok captain, Bob Skinstad and his lifelong friend Ron Rutland, and both play an active role in fundraising and all the events the foundation is a part of.

The Department of Education statistics indicate that over 7 million children in South Africa go to school without shoes, which is more than half the school student population.  While there are many other social challenges that affect underprivileged children, Bobs for Good has chosen to focus on getting shoes to these children, as educating the youth is the key to the nation’s future.

“Shoes are such a simple thing but it can make a huge difference in the children’s lives,” said Skinstad.

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Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Athletics




was formed to promote a healthy living for people in our communities and keep kids away from gangsterism and drug activities that plague our areas. Objectives of Mitchells Plain Titans AC: • To develop and foster sporting skills and athletic abilities in runners, walkers and disable people within the Club’s members, the community • To encourage a spirit of companionship amongst the members e.g. participation in organizing training, social and team races, club functions • To help the poor and needy in our community in any possible way. • To promote the brand of our sponsors • To keep kids in our communities away from drugs and gangsterism.

Our main focus is physically fitness, to actively promote programs for juniors, women and beginners, and to promote running for health.

We’ve have made considerable improvements over last year expanding our existing programs and adding new ones. We should remember there’s always room for improvement, though, as running programs are the aspects of our club that attract people to us.

The club and its activities are open to all, regardless of age, sex or athletic ability.

The members of the club are quite diverse and the atmosphere is very open and friendly.

For more information and contact details, please click Here

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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Athletics