I’m just returning from an inspiring two-week trip to Kenya and wanted to share some of the highlights with you. (Also click here for photos).
I travelled to Iten, Kenya, the running capital of the country. It’s a small rural town in Western Kenya where many top and aspiring athletes train. It was amazing to see all these Kenyans (and international runners) training at all times of the day. I felt privileged as I ran and biked along the same running trails, and had a chance to talk to some athletes. I was also privileged to chat with Lornah Kiplagat and her husband and some of the top Kenyan students who will be attending Ivy League colleges in the U.S. These students were inspiring and really the future of this wonderful country. I also visited and chatted with staff at St. Patrick’s school, the historic school where several top Kenyan athletes have come from.
What was so beautiful to me besides seeing how this small rural town has grown into a running mecca, was really having the opportunity to chat with runners (past and current) and regular Kenyans. We talked about running, Iten, politics in Kenya, coaching, business, education, the U.S., the future of Kenya and history. I had dynamic conversations with so many people who graciously made time to sit and talk with me so freely. It made me wonder how often we in the U.S. make time to just sit with a stranger who is traveling and talk to them about our experiences here. I was literally just dropping by and asking to speak with school principals, business owners, runners, coaches and everyone made time to chat! I learned a lot more about the running culture and politics around running in Kenya. I’m also looking into collaborating with folks there and adding a trip to Iten in a future itinerary after our June 2013 trip.
The other highlight was that I ran the Nairobi half-marathon, a race with 20,000 participants. It was well-organized and stunning to view Nairobi with the roads closed to traffic. It reminded me of the Nairobi of my childhood – a much quieter city. There was something so amazing about running in the capital of world-class athletes. I was able to see the elite athletes whiz by several times and finish the race. They were so graceful and looked at such ease even with all the serious competition at their heels! In fact most Kenyan athletes hope to leave the country to run in other places where they have a better chance of winning. Click here for a summary on the winners. Also it was great to see just the regular Kenyan people running and walking too. Yes, there are slower Kenyans too!
Being immersed in all this running and energy, I’m even more excited about our June 2013 Run Like a Kenyan…In Kenya trip. You don’t even have to be a runner to come, because honestly just talking to the people there is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. There is still a culture there where people take time out to sit and talk and engage with each other. A visit to Kenya always reminds me to prioritize the important things in life – family, friends, and listening and talking to others. It makes me appreciate my work as a psychologist and coach even more.
Bringing you to Kenya and having even one person or one experience impact you and vice versa will create a ripple effect that changes both Kenya and the U.S. in positive ways. The joy of connection and learning can only open us up to living our lives more fully, which not only impacts our friends and communities but also whole Nations.
So, joins us for our June 2013 trip and don’t worry about time or money – if you want to come and these are worries please reach out to us and we’ll figure it out. As I was sitting and writing at Nakumatt Junction Mall in Kenya, I was reflecting on how Kenyans are generally not deterred by circumstances. The energy and culture there is that you have to work hard to make it and you have to be creative yet relaxed. Most people aren’t just working one job! There are hurdles and barriers but they can’t stop you.
Being there gets my creativity flowing and I’m sure it will do the same for you. If you are worried about money, being there will spark something in you to find more freedom to bring in more money in your own life. If you are worried about taking too much time off work, you’ll be able to relax and see and feel the value of being completely immersed in doing something different, which will rejuvenate your own work life when you return. We generally work too much and worry too much!
Endurance sports teach us to let go of limitations and to realize we can accomplish and pursue amazing things. Every time I travel to Kenya, I learn and re-learn this lesson and I let go of all my perceived barriers and limitations. I’d be honored to take you on this journey so please join us.