And a world class marathoner at that. Japhet Kosgei decided to start running competitively in 1996 at age 28. Yes, 28! Japhet lived in a suburb of Eldoret – far enough out to not even realize the world fame of his countrymen’s running abilities.
Japhet was a wheat and corn farmer and wanted more than that out of life. He was hoping to get a permanent job as a machine operator. However the economy in Kenya hasn’t been very good. A machine operator position paid only $125 to $150 a month. So Japhet decided to look for something more lucrative.
Japhet thought about becoming a tennis player. He ruled that out since there were so few facilities and instructors in Kenya. That left running.
Japhet starting running around the Eldoret area. He was running in regular shoes – not running shoes. Japhet simply didn’t know what he needed for shoes. Even so, he convinced himself that he was fast enough to compete.
Finding a trainer wasn’t easy. Japhet didn’t run in grammar or secondary school. So convincing someone to take him as a trainee was tough. He had great running times like 13 minutes, 42 seconds for 5000 metres.
Finally, Japhet convinced Gabriele Rosa, a world renowned running coach, to become his coach. After a few sessions Japhet shaved 3 minutes off his best marathon time.
Japhet was favored to win the New York Marathon on Sunday, November 5, 2000. He came is second with a time of 2:12:30. That’s the first time he placed second in a marathon. Every other marathon he has come in first…
Japhet was initially picked for the Olympics 2000 Kenyan marathon team. Unfortunately, with the ensuing training fiasco, he was pulled off the team along with Moses Tanui and Elijah Legat.
Hopefully, with the success Japhet is seeing now he will be able to attend the 2004 Olympics.
Japhet’s running successes have brought him fame and fortune. Through it all he remains humble and is helping out his family with the money he is making. Japhet has recently bought a home for his parents.