Below is an brief story about DuniaRunners. What proper food can do and the stumbling blocks of bringing a Kenyan runner to the world stage. I really recommend you also take a look at the website of our team: www.DuniaRunners.com
In the summer of 2009, through my work as an airline pilot, I had the opportunity to frequently train with professional athletes in Kenya. It soon became apparent that they focus very well on their running but give very little thought on what fuels them.
I was already familiar with the raw food diet by Dr. Douglas Graham and how it is used by professional athletes in Western countries.
That year, with personal resources but with enthusiastic support from Dr. Graham I formed a small team to try if Kenyan runners were able to see the benefits of the 80/10/10 diet. And if through this, they would be motivated to forgo the Ugali, dairy products and refined sugars that are so deeply rooted in their culture.
We started out with five runners, all of them gung-ho but not all of them understanding raw food with their hearts. Soon, running the team became a steeple chase. My first business partner kept the funds I sent for himself. It took a while before the shy athletes told me about it. The second local manager, a former international athlete seemed to believe in 80/10/10 but secretly decided that runners needed an extra 'protein boost' the night before the race. Finally I was able to proove him cheating me and confusing the runners with secretly filmed footage of him serving fish stew the night before a race. Imagine how the runners performed with this sudden change back to animal protein..
But yet, some stuck with the team, they were the ones that felt the benefits from the get-go and let the message become part of their deepest believes. They commented on how much easier they could breathe which is a great advantage at the high altitude of most of Kenya. They reported fewer injuries and really fast recovery after a race.
Kenya has thousands of tough and talented runners. They are often convinced that their local diet of Ugali (which is corn based) is part of their success. So asking them to exchange one of their trump cards for something unknown is asking for leap of faith in itself. They have been observing our team members with a critical eye. But ultimately success is measured with winning. And for this we have to be patient. The runners are focussed and training full time, but reaching world class racing speeds is not something that just happens when you just do it.
Life moves with the sun, at daybreak runners trickle together in ever larger groups and they then do their morning runs. Around the area where Dairus and John live are some major training camps of world class athletes, among them the Olympic gold medal winner. The city, Kaptagat, is a high elevation, cool area. After the morning run—usually the most intensive training of the day—they will eat and sleep during the heat of the day. Then have some easy training in the late afternoon. This is repeated 6 days a week with different running programs every day of the week. (If you want to see an interesting documentary about this watch 'the unknown runner' on Vimeo.com)
In the nearby provincial town of Eldoret there are frequent 10k races and half marathons. A few times a year there are marathons at which international managers stake out talent. Competition is fierce, with everyone looking for a better life. Some take nasty performance enhancing drugs. Many drink Redbull before races. Last year several local athletes literally ran themselves to death.
Because of budget reasons only a few races in Kenya use time-measuring chips. Lack of this leads to runners taking shortcuts sometimes. To get exact results Dairus and John travel away a few times a year to Nairobi, the tropical coastal town of Mombasa and to the Kilimanjaro Marathon in Tanzania where race chips are used.
Arriving at the last mentioned location in the spring last year Dairus and John lodged into a cheap hotel the night before the race and bought some fruit locally and had some fresh juice made. Dairus fell sick instantly, John was not well the whole night. Yet, not wanting to loose the opportunity they raced anyway. Both threw up several times during the race. Yet they completed the marathon in the heat and at altitude. John crossed the finish line #11, then passed out only to wake in the hospital late that night. Then Dairus had to drag him out and they had to urgently return via two 6 hour bus rides via Nairobi back to camp to avoid political unrest in the capital. One can prepare a whole year for a race, but an unclean blender can ruin the day.
August last year they ran the Mombasa 42k again, but John could not sleep the night before which made him #15, 5 spots slower than his ranking the year before. Dairus came in at #12. These results are not good enough to land them instant contracts with international athlete managers. The winner takes all in this too.
Einstein already said that if you want different results you have to change the way you do things. Luckily, dr. Graham was here to help again. With primitive deadweights and his advice on how to use them the guys are now building muscles fibers in a way none of their peers can. We also have intensified looking for sponsors. We have received shoes from Vibram USA and have asked them and their European counterparts for additional help, but to this day they haven't responded. So everything is just paid personally.
Just recently we got a chance to meet the manager of world record holder Wilson Kipsang . This manager is aware of the unsustainable health habits of many runners and is open to see how our guys perform on the international stage. Finally a chance to break through! Then John disappeared. Dairus could not find him for weeks and then discovered John went to Malaysia without our permission go gain a quick buck.
So we are now preparing visa paperwork and tickets for just Dairus to race in Holland upcoming May. We've started with five runners in 2009 and in the end only the one who really understood the value of raw food remains. He will be the ambassador for 80/10/10 in Kenya when he will start winning races abroad. A long road to the top, a worthy goal.
I always knew that raw food is the missing link for Kenyan athletes.
If we ever want to break the 2 hour barrier in a marathon we will have to do this by taking Einsteins simple advice. And one of these changes just begs to be a return to our design diet.
We truly hope that once our effort becomes successful we will have a chance to let more eager Kenyans join the team, perhaps female runners as well.
The goal since the outset has been to have running camps where westerners train with the locals in Kenya. Dr. Graham would love to lecture there one day. Imagine yourself among the most friendly smiles in the world...kind people, yet aggressive athletes.
The reason for this writing is that I would love to join you at Woodstock through the scholarship program.
DuniaRunners has had constant support and encouragement from Doug Graham via countless emails.
The team needs nurture; it would be wonderful to spend time among people like you who understand the value of the raw food lifestyle with their heart.