Running has grown from being an ideal exercise routine to a significant Olympic sport to grade. Many countries participate in the massive amount of international tournaments held around the year and submit their participant’s applications for the sports games announced. Running has been announced as a significant sport for decades. 

Listing the most excellent runners ever will always include familiar names like Molly Huddle, Meseret Defar, and Galen Rupp. The list that notes down countries that produce the best runners of a decade cannot afford to lose out on Kenya as a major contender.

Eliud Kipchoge is a Kenyan marathon runner that has set eyebrows to touch foreheads across the world with the records that he is setting in the field. Kenya is known for its contribution to the area of sports. As a country, it has given some of the world’s finest sprinters and runners.

Is it geographical, biological, or individual talent?

Ranging from marathons to 100-meter races, Kenya is the country that always excels. Is it genetic, you may ask? Why are Kenyan runners so fast? What makes them undefeatable? Some points do favor Kenyan racers – they are either geographical or biological. 

These features lend an additional advantage to the runners, but the spirit of the sport entirely relies on the individual’s capacity and training obtained. It is the passion that will linger till the very last sprint, and finally, the determination that will burst in flames when the finishing line is crossed. 

  • Low Body Mass Indices surely prove beneficial – Kenyans average BMI, if compared to the average American or even the average world BMI, is small. This scenario provides an advantage to the runners as a lean physique guarantee increased speed, hence devising a strong strategy for winning. According to research, while the average BMI for teenage girls across the world calculated to be between 18.5 to 24.9, Kenyan teenage girls averaged to have a BMI of 17. The same kind of difference was showcased by boys as well. Kenyan Runner's Training
  • Unknown early training advantage Kenya is a developing country whose landscape is quite varied. From plateaus to mountains to deserts, Kenya has it all. Children from rural areas often travel to school not by traditional means of commutation but via walking or running. Even in the urban sector, transportation in the form of vehicles is unsought. Unknowingly performing these daily tasks help the kids to remain lean and maintain their physique, but not being malnourished at the same time. Kenyan distance runners do have a slim trait in common. 
  • The geographical conditions are a perk – Kenya is located at a higher altitude, with the average being 1500 meters. The children born in Kenya have an inherent attribute of powerful lungs and an overall healthy respiratory system. This scenario, in turn, helps to provide extra oxygen to the muscles that boost the pace of the runner naturally. 
    Kenyan runner’s training at such an altitude offers an edge to them over other participants. Also, anaerobic respiration that results in the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscle is quite effective in Kenyans. The lactic acid is subject to metabolize at a faster rate, and the muscles can contract and relax comfortably.
  • The classic height-weight ratio – A tall, lean man will naturally be faster than a short, plump lad. The basics of stealth and power add up. A study conducted among Kenyan participants accounted for their average HWR ratio to be 0.51. Higher the number, the more compatible the individual will be with the idea of running fast. The ordinary world Height to weight ratio stands lower than 0.5, handing over the advantage in competitions to Kenyans.
  • Passion outscores every advantage – The drive to succeed is what a human needs the most in his life. Kenya is a developing country, with most people living below the poverty line designated and accounting for some of the worst conditions recorded. Winning awards and medals at an international level not only helps the individual and his family to grow but boosts the entire country’s standing on a global platform.Kenyans listed for such events train and practice hard, focusing on the ultimate goal and sacrificing even the most primal needs.
  • Unusual body traits inherited – A study was conducted that documented the most bizarre finding among Kenyan athletes and runners – They had unusually long and skinny legs. Though this came across an unfair genetic advantage, Kenyans do have longer legs, lengthier than the world average.This case does mean that the body has to provide more oxygen to the new number of cells and thus  puts a strain on the bone marrow to produce more RBCs, but in the long run, it’s beneficial. Long legs assure extended strides, thus covering more distance in a shorter time frame.
  • Simplicity is the road to success – We are blinded by success, lost enough to forget our roots. This case is undoubtedly not the case of Kenyan runners, though. When analyzed, a Kenyan runner’s diet consisted of nothing fancy but simple homemade dishes that they had been consuming from their childhood. Ugali, a dish made from dough, leafy vegetables, protein-containing substances like eggs, fish, and meat and milk to wash it all down, were everyday items.No processed food or steroids are consumed, keeping the dietary intake quite efficient and straightforward. An article also mentioned that Kenyan runners had their food land on their plates directly from farms and not any factory. This scenario ensures a certain level of healthiness, and one can be particular about the quality as well!

Key Takeaways

All the points mentioned above do answer the question of why Kenyan runners are so good. It’s the spirit that matters in a sport like running that demands everything an individual has to offer. Kenyans hold 3 out of the four world records in long-distance running competitions. One can say it is due to the genetic advantages or geographical conditions, but when it narrows down to that one last sprint, it’s the willpower and resolution that helps get past the finishing line.