Running for Live: Why Africans Dominate Global Athletics – The Global System


Athlete Eliud Kipchoge, after lowering for two hours from the marathon in Vienna. Source: Michael Joby, Flickr

Middle- and long-distance runners have been dominated by Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes for the past three decades. Uganda is also adding champions, for greater prominence in East African athletics. With their victories, these runners turned their homes into a sports mecha and made running not just a way, but also a way of life.

A hundred meters from the end, Eliud Kipchoge began to celebrate. He pointed to the crowd to his right and then to his left and struck his chest with both fists. 1:59:40. It worked: the Kenyan athlete dropped the two-hour mark in a marathon for the first time in history in Vienna on October 12, 2019. He was on a closed circuit and preparing for the occasion, preventing the record from being official. Until then, he had set the fastest time himself in the 2018 Berlin Marathon, with 1 minute 39 seconds over two hours. Kipchoge, 36, is hoping to reconfirm the gold medal he won in Rio at the Tokyo Olympics.

Since the early 1990s, long- and middle-distance racing has been dominated by Kenya and Ethiopia at the international level. In the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest event, only four runners of other nationalities have managed to win since 1988. However, not all Ethiopians and Kenyans have the best running conditions. The most successful Ethiopian athletes are the Oromo, who hail from the Arsi and Shewa regions in the country’s central mountains. In Kenya, three-quarters…

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Valencia. 1995. Graduated in Journalism from the University of Navarra. Junior Researcher at the Navarra Center for International Development, a research center at the Institute of Culture and Society at the University of Navarra. I am interested in studying politics, democracy, conflict and human rights in sub-Saharan Africa.

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