International History of Kenyan Runners - Pt.1

International History of Kenyan Runners

In contemporary media and in public opinion, the world of Track & Field is and has been dominated by Africans and members of the African Diaspora, with the exception of throwing events. This international perception is true from specific results driven statistical standpoints, however, from a historical perspective this perception has not always been the case.

This post will focus on historical events, theories, and perspectives leading up to contemporary African dominance. The purpose of this is to  facilitate a deeper understanding of this perceived dominance outside of common stereotypes and conceptions surrounding African runners and by extension African bodies as a whole. A major avoidance of this post will be the chronological listing of results produced by African runners. Avoiding this perspective is done due to the superficial insight that a purely results based research can provide, as research surrounding efforts and performance can lead to insightful revelations in the sport. This is not to imply times are irrelevant, merely that focusing our attention towards historical evolutions of how times are produced and under which conditions is worthy of scholarly research. This in mind, specific events, meets, and athletes will be mentioned to provide chronological reference points and to provide insight into why particular events garnish notoriety.

To frame the historical perspective, the question of which historical aspects indicated the shift in international running prowess from those in Western countries to African? From theses historical aspects, are there specific events that shifted international attitudes and perspectives towards African runners? What can be derived from these questions is an insight into the development of African runners, in particular Kenyan runners, who are currently at the forefront international athletics in both the realm of direct competition and academic research. Their high level of visibility in international athletics has resulted in a plethora of research into their training regimes, lifestyle, and training locations. This holds especially true when compared to athletes from other African nations. 


Author - Marquis Caldwell