Almost Kenyan: A celebration of mediocrity

It’s really not a secret that, when it comes to running, Kenyans rule. One has only to do a simple Google search of high profile races to see that they just win EVERYTHING. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to run like them.

I’m painfully aware that I’ll never know. Not Kenyan

As I mentioned in my previous post, The Story of Marathon Matthau, when I ran my first race, I failed to meet my goal time by a mere 10 seconds. 10 seconds, people! But I can’t tell you how many times I replayed the last minutes of that race over and over in my head, pinpointing moments when I could have made up that time.

short leg

In a race, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. There are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other runners, with lil’ ol’ you in the mix. Watching some (or many, even most) of them pass you during a race can make you downhearted. You might even feel downright mediocre.

Never be a gazelle

I’m by nature a competitive person, so knowing I have limits gets me down. Sometimes, I don’t see what’s behind me, I only see the gazelles ahead of me. Sometimes, I have to remind myself how far I’ve come since the days of tippie-toed treadmilling and sprained ankles.

That’s why I came up with the expression Almost Kenyan. I know I can’t do what they can, but I can be my best. I can be almost them.

almost kenyan

So, rather than my usual self-deprecating post, I’d like to share some reassuring statistics to prove that all runners are Almost Kenyan. They pick heavily on our American friends, but I’m sure they apply to other countries (except Kenya), too. Let’s assume they do.

1) Less than 10% of Americans can run a mile in under 10 minutes.

2) Only 1% of Americans have completed a 10KM race. I'm special

3) Less than 1% of Americans can run 10 miles.

4) 0.007% of Americans ran a half marathon in 2013.

5) 0.002% of Americans ran a marathon in 2013.

Now, let’s talk finishing times!

6) Less than 5% of runners can finish a 5KM race in under 20 minutes.

7) Only elite athletes can finish a 10KM race in 30 minutes or less.

8) Only 37% of male runners, and 15% of female runners can complete a half marathon in under 2 hours.

9) Fewer than 25% of marathoners can run a sub-4 hour marathon (that’s only 0.0005% of the US population, people).

And, last but not least:

10) Less than 10% of marathon runners will ever meet a Boston qualifying time (or, in other words, 0.0002% of the US population).

I’ll be honest, the numbers are from Google, so I’m sure a few are guesstimates. But I believe they aren’t far from the truth.

Google never lies


So what’s my point?

My point is, if you ever find yourself feeling the way I felt after that 10KM race, remember these stats, and remind yourself of these conclusions:

1) If you can even run 1 mile, you’re already ahead of nearly everyone you know.

2) If you can just complete a 5 or a 10KM race, hey, man, you’re top-drawer!

3) If you can run a sub-2 hour half marathon, you’re an elite runner. No, really, you are.

4) If you’ve completed a half or a full marathon, you’ve done something not even a full percentage point of people can say they’ve done.

5) If you qualify for Boston, you deserve a standing ovation.

Conan clap

We’ve all got goals, and we’ve all got limits. There will be bad days, and sometimes, the gazelles will beat you. But don’t let it get you down. Celebrate mediocrity, folks, and salute those who pass you. And remember that, statistically, you’re Almost Kenyan.



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10 thoughts on “Almost Kenyan: A celebration of mediocrity

  1. Fantastic goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous
    to and you are just extremely magnificent. I actually like what you have acquired here, certainly like what
    you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it
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    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for pointing me to this very insightful post! I loved it form the first to the last word. Here I am shooting for a sub 2 half and I would proudly wear a shirt that said “Almost A Kenyan”. I need and will bookmark this for future reference! Awesome writing job and very inspirational.

    Liked by 1 person

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