Home' The Wellingtonian : October 4th 2012 Contents 20 THE WELLINGTONIAN, OCTOBER 4, 2012
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Olympic boss 19
Kenyan runner likes life here
Front-runner: Kenyan athlete Edwin Kemei now calls Wellington his home away from home. Photo: CARLA PENMAN
By CARLA PENMAN
Seventy minutes work was all it
took for a 21-year-old runner to
earn the equivalent to two years
rent back home in Kenya.
Edwin Kemei almost gave up
during the Lydiard Legend half-
marathon in Auckland last month
because of the hilly course, but his
willpower got him through and he
ended up winning $1000.
He said he was determined to
pull out all stops to prolong his
stay in New Zealand.
I am going to live here, maybe
forever, he said.
Wellington runner Martin van
Barneveld, who trained for three
months alongside 2000 other run-
ners, including Kemei, in the run-
ning mecca of Iten in Kenya,
invited Kemei to stay and train
with him in New Zealand.
Kemei s first experience of the
gusty Wellington wind, the lower
altitude and cooler climate came
as a shock, but he said he had now
When I arrived here it was
very cold and I was like, no, I will
not stay here for more than two
months, he said.
But I got used to the country
and the environment.
For the past six months he has
lived, trained and breathed Wel-
lington life -- a very different place
to his home in Kabamet, Kenya.
In Kabamet, he said, he would
run, eat and sleep three times a
We get up at 5 or 6am to train.
When you finish you eat ugali
(cornmeal) then sleep for an hour
or two, then you do it all over
He said the scale of competition
was almost incomparable.
Kemei has lost only two races
since arriving in New Zealand --
both to New Zealand 1500m
record-holder Nick Willis -- but he
was just 19th in a 5000m race in
Kenya this year.
He said he was used to running
at a high altitude of about 8000
feet, and it took a month to adapt
to Wellington s sea-level con-
Kemei said it was easier to
breathe at the lower altitude and
he could go for longer runs at a
Along with training adjust-
ments, he has experienced a
change in diet and learned how
expensive rent is.
In Kenya, it would cost about
$40 a month for a house on the
outskirts of the city, and a nicer
house with hot showers would cost
up to $80 a month, he said.
Not only is living cheaper in
Kenya, but food costs very little.
I could easily live on $2 a day
Kemei s visa expires in
November. He will return to
Kenya and apply for two visas --
one to study in Canada and the
other for New Zealand residency.
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