A Brief History
Kenya is famous for its world-class runners. Little do people know that most of those runners come from one tribe and from a very small section of Kenya. The village of Menet and the district of Boment border that section, but they do not have the "infrastructure" that their neighbor has. They don't have any training camps, high school scholarships, shoe company talent scouts, or international coaches.
Menet does have desire. The students at Menet Secondary School see Kenyan runners traveling the world and winning championships, and they want to follow in their footsteps. The only problem is, they have never had the tools they need to follow their dreams.
Another challenge the students face is a lack of educational opportunities. Each year only one student out of sixty scores high enough on the national high school exam to earn the loans he or she needs to attend university. The students are smart, but they can't afford school without earning a scarce government loan.
When Peace Corps Volunteer Kenli Okada came to teach at Menet Secondary School, he saw that his students had a desire to run and attend university, but at first, he didn't see the talent that was hidden in the hills around Menet. His first glimpse of this talent arrived a few weeks after school had started for the year. Faustin Kemboi came to him asking for help in paying his fees, and they got to talking about Faustin's best times. He ran 13:58 in the 5000m at 7,000 ft above sea level. He would have won the 2006 NCAA championships with that time! He had been slowed down by a nagging injury, but he was sure he could return to form.
At the same time, several students at the school were "training" for their cross country competition. They ran around the school's field a few times and called it a day. They kept talking about doing real training, but they didn't have shoes. Two students, Cheruiyot Rono and Luke Sigei, knew a professional runner named Paul Tangus who had offered to coach them, but they couldn't take him up on the offer.
One day, Paul came to the school, and he started talking with Kenli and Menet's headmaster, Samwel Cheruse. They were talking about the benefits of training, and Kenli suggested that they organize a formal team. The headmaster and Paul agreed. The headmaster would support the team by letting them practice at school during holidays. Paul would be the coach. Kenli would get shoes for the students and would help them with their pursuit of running scholarships.
They have not stopped running since.
Our mission is to improve the lives of our members and thus our community through running and academics.
Our primary goal is to build self-confidence and promote a culture of hard work and self-discipline.
Our secondary goal is to help our members increase their professional options in life through practical educational programs.
Menet is a small community in Bomet District, Rift Valley Province, Kenya. It is 7 1/2 miles East of Bomet Town, as the crow flies, and it is close to the Mau Forest. Click here to see a map.
The terrain is rolling hills (see the scenery pictures), and the many farms that cover the landscape fill Menet's scenery with green.
During the rainy months of April, November, and December, it rains everyday in the afternoons. In January it doesn't rain at all. In the other months it rains a few days a week.
Click here to see where people run in Kenya. Note that most of the runners originate between Kericho and Kitale. Eldoret, Iten, and Kapsabet have huge numbers of runners. There are many runners that come from other parts of Kenya, most notably Catherine "The Great" Ndereba, but the vast majority come from one part of Rift Valley Province.
What does elimu mean?
Elimu is Swahili for education.
How can I get involved?
There are many ways to get involved. You can send gently used shoes to the students, connect the club with college coaches, donate money, or even just talk to your friends about the club. We'd love to hear any ideas you have, so if you'd like to support the club in some way, contact us.