Dinner and a Chat with KIMbia’s Men’s Team Before the Bolder Boulder 10K

By Duncan Larkin
Kenyans Charles Munyeki and Gilbert Okari stand a good chance to help their country win the International Team Competition at the Bolder Boulder 10K. © www.photorun.net
Kenyans Charles Munyeki and Gilbert Okari stand a good chance to help their country win the International Team Competition at the Bolder Boulder 10K. © www.photorun.net

The night before the Bolder Boulder race, the KIMbia men’s team sat down to a traditional Kenyan dinner of ugali (a porridge-like dish made from corn flour). The team, comprised of Kenyans Charles Munyeki, Gilbert Okari, and Philemon Terer, will be competing to win the cherished International Team Challenge which offers a $110,000 total prize purse. The competition will be stiff as they will be facing a very talented Ethiopian and Moroccan contingent. Take The Magic Step® writer Duncan Larkin joined the three men and discussed what is regarded as the fifth-largest road race in the world, with 54,000 participants expected at the starting line.

Tomorrow’s race will be a team event, but usually it’s only your individual results that count. How will things be different at the Bolder Boulder 10K?

Philemon Terer: We have to work together tomorrow. In most races, we fight against ourselves to win, but tomorrow we will all be friends and run together. Sometimes we even talk to each other during these team races. If we see someone struggle, if my friend looks tired, we push him along by encouraging him.

You are racing tomorrow at altitude [Boulder is at an elevation of 5,430 feet]. How do you feel about this?

Gilbert Okari: The race is going to be much harder than all other races. And the weather is unpredictable. On top of that it’s also a team challenge, and everyone must be a winner in order for us to win. That’s why the Bolder Boulder is so different from other races.

You’ve been racing every weekend. How have you been staying fresh?

Charles Munyeki: The training has been good. We have been doing some long runs and speedwork to get in shape. However, during the week of a race we do not run any hard workouts so that we stay focused and fresh for the race. For example, last week we only did some short hills to sharpen, because we have some hills on this course tomorrow.

There are a lot of turns on this course as well. This means it might favor the Ethiopian runners because they have a shorter stride. Have you prepared in any way to compensate for this?

Gilbert Okari: The turns could be a factor. We don’t know the tactics they [the Ethiopians] will use and so we are concerned about that. But in the end, we all have to say, ‘I am ready.’ The moment that we are afraid, we know that there is no way we can keep up with our opponents. We expect a strong result and strong competition from the Ethiopians. They like to stay with us Kenyans.

[Charles Munyeki is wearing a Denver Nuggets basketball cap.] Charles, do you like basketball?

Charles Munyeki: Yes very much!

Have you ever been to a Nuggets game?

Charles Munyeki: I have been to local basketball games back home, but not here. We all like to watch the Nuggets games on television and hope they win.

Do you enjoy running professionally? Is it stressful or is it a source of joy for you?

Gilbert Okari: We run so that we can help our family—so that they can live comfortably in Kenya. That is why we are here so far away from them. This is our job. This is our business. We run to honor our family. This career has assisted us in doing so and that is why we enjoy it very much. When I was a young boy, I always dreamed to run. I ran every day 15 kilometers back and forth to school wearing tire rubber as shoes. I ran during lunchtime too. No one has cars. So running is my life and I am glad I am doing it.

Assuming your team wins tomorrow, what will you do afterwards? Will you all have a big party?

Philemon [smiles]: We need to have a party for sure. That would be the first time if we had one. Maybe you organize one for us?

[Everyone laughs].

And the team did have a party after the race! The Ethiopian team invited Team KIMbia and other runners from the BolderBOULDER 10K to their favorite restaurant in town to celebrate the Ethiopians win.


Update posted May 27, 2009