It has been quite impressive that the world’s greatest marathon runners have been from Kenya for around a quarter of a century now. Although, most Ethiopian long-distance runners are also beating these odds on several occasions.
All marathon runners from Kenya, both male and female, amaze the world to date to the extent that they can outperform some of the world-best professional runners with just a few days of training.
Today, researchers, professional athletes, and scientists have all drawn closer to pinning down what’s behind Kenya’s legacy as the best marathon runner in the global records.
That notwithstanding, you’re going to discover what makes Kenya marathon runners the world’s best in this post.
It is neither magical nor diabolical. Here are the results from all aspects of the research so far:
1. Early age developmental walking and running
Talking about the greatness of Kenyan athletes, extensive walking and running they do at early age results in the development of high maximal oxygen uptake.
And the rate of oxygen uptake in the system works with the lung capacity to supply oxygen around the body, thereby making one run faster.
Most Kenyan children and youths develop the ability to run and walk in their daily lives. And it supplies high vo2 max scores and increases their performance in any aerobic fitness activity.
In turn, it propels their furls burning efficiency during marathon racing making athleticism tournaments difficult between them and other countries.
2. Genetic Mutations
The statistics of the successive marathon races of this medium-size country of 41 million have become so hard to ignore.
For this reason, scientists made investigations and found that the Kenyans have some inborn, physical, genetic advantages that result in their athletic success.
Scientific discoveries have shown that the excellent running gene that Kenyans mutate is one of the reasons why they’re biologically predisposed to reach for the stars in any long-distance race.
Genetic factors play a significant role in some physical traits that contribute to their running success. Though they may win in some races for no reason other than chance, specific characteristics they have developed are better suited for running.
Because of this inheritance, they have flexible muscle fiber type, which contributes positively to their overall endurance potential and metabolism while on the run.
3. Body mass index
Body mass index also plays a vital role in Kenyan’s running success. Without a doubt, it’s one of the researchable essential factors that put them on the front line of most athletic tournaments.
Due to specific arguments, studies show between the Kenyan amateurs who had bested Western pros to ascertain if BMI is an essential factor.
It turns out that the disparity in the body mass index and bone structure of the Western pros is noteworthy compared to the Kenyan armature runners.
Kenyans have a lean mass for their heights which quickens their agility, speed, and performance while running.
4. Relatively high hemoglobin and hematocrit
The red blood cells contribute to a great extent in buffering respiratory gases across all parts of the body system during a marathon.
Several studies have shown that Kenyans have relatively higher hemoglobin and hematocrit than expected, and so while running, it helps to improve their blood viscosity and workload of the heart.
According to the research at Copenhagen Muscle Research Center in 1990, even the Kenyan amateur running team in the high school defeated Sweden’s famed national track team. And this is attributable to the high level of hematocrit.
5. Good metabolic efficiency
Development of lower limb characteristics and good metabolic somatotype efficiency provides them a better chance suited to endurance during any long-distance run.
Consider any distance racing competition; you’ll often discover that 80 most of the winners are from Kenya.
6. Favorable skeletal-muscle-fiber
Slow-twitch muscle fibers composition and oxidative enzyme are other findings relative to the Kenyans ability to win long-distance races.
Favorable skeletal-muscle-fiber and adaptation to the marathon; slow-twitch muscle fibers support long-distance endurance activity, which is also beneficial for fast, powerful movement.
7. Traditional Kenyan diet
Consumption of native diets is another fact ascribes their outstanding athletic performance. Kenya’s simple foods have nutrients with great nutritional value that helps in body movement while running.
And the fact remains that Kenyan athletes eat these staple foods from childhood, which naturally allows peak performance in a long-distance marathon and rapid recovery.
Scientifically, nutrition experts have looked into the diet of Kenyan runners and found that they form the backbone of their running success and are recommendable for fast running pace.
Diet is one of the reasons why they dominated the sport of distance running for centuries.
8. Living and training at altitude
While some traits that contribute to Kenyan’s marathon success may be innate, other factors are the moderate-volume of high-intensity training they undergo beforehand – (live high + train high).
Before any athletic tournament, Kenyan marathon runners train consistently for a few months, be it a middle or long-distance race.
Long-distance runners who dominate the marathon group in Kenya live and train in a high-altitude area like the Great Rift Valley of Kenya.
9. Motivation to achieve economic advancement
Since the inception of the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, the Kenyan marathon runners have been dominating in both the middle and long-distance athletic events.
At some point, people started describing their winning success as inherent. Naturally, Kenyan runners exhibit a powerful psychological motivation to thrive athletically for social and economic improvement.
As a result, motivation has helped them to build determination to achieve athletic success.
10. Practicing running as herders
Another cringe-worthy theory, though weird, is that Kenyans are herders from their history. And while chasing their herds, they usually learn how to run.
They believe in learning how to run from the practice of chasing their sheep across the countryside. However, most people consider the theory to be awkward.
11. Coordinated body system type
Aside from cultural distinctions and genetic differences, a coordinated physique is typical to the Kenyan community, making it probably countable for thriving in athletics.
Lots of arguments arise about the physical advantage, and some people conclude that it’s just a mere product of Western imagination.
However, research shows that Kenyans have slender limbs, shorter torsos, longer legs, and other physical body differences considered “bird-like,” which make them very efficient runners, mainly over long-distance races.
Again, it helps them to gain coordinated balance on the ground and bounce exceptionally well.
Burns quotes that “The Kenyans coordinated their bodies to behave more like simple Pogo-stick-like systems,”
Why are Kenyans among the best runners in the world?
In this post, we stated genetic factors, physical differences, and other influential advantages that contribute to why Kenyans are the best global marathon runners.
Which country has the best marathon runners in the world?
For over a quarter-century now, research and investigations have shown that the country with the best marathon runners globally is Kenya, followed by Ethiopia.
Why is Kipchoge so good?
Eliud Kipchoge is a Kenyan long-distance marathon runner. He’s a professional in running long-distance races because he applies the strategy of coordinated limb movement and diverse body, which provides him regular balance and coordinated energy to bounce great while on the run.
Which country has the best runners for amateur athletes?
From research and studies conducted so far, Switzerland is the best running country for amateur athletes.
The world has been so interested in what makes Kenyan and Ethiopian marathon runners different from others. Perhaps, we have taken our time to examine objectively and uncover the factors contributing to the unprecedented success of Kenya in a marathon, long-distance races.
These factors tend towards physiological attributes, genetic characteristics they inherit, and chronic exposure to consistent training.