In 1976, an Irish priest, Colm O'Connell, moved to Iten to work in the school. Now it's a center for runners from all over Kenya, and it's having an extraordinary social effect, especially for women.
The 55-year-old O'Connell is a member of the Patrician Brothers, a Catholic order founded in Ireland. He came to St. Patrick's in 1976 for what was supposed to be a two-year assignment teaching geography. Within a year of arriving on campus, he became the school's track coach despite having no background in running. O'Connell, who resembles a sun-splotched Dick Cheney, has never worked out.
St. Patrick's isn't your ordinary high school. Since O'Connell started his coaching gig, the alumni list has turned into a track geek's fantasy team...
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Here's a fascinating article on the Kalenjin runners of Kenya, and their astonishing record.
John Manners, who has been researching and writing about the Kalenjin for decades, has determined that from 1987 to 1997 Kalenjin runners won 40 percent of the biggest international honors in men's distance running. In an essay titled, "Kenya's Running Tribe," Manners wrote, "I contend that this record marks the greatest geographic concentration of achievement in the annals of sport."
In rural Kenya, it is still unusual to see a woman on foot without a load.