Nov. 6, 2009
Wesley Korir, a former member of the Cardinals' cross country and track and field teams, won the Los Angeles Marathon on May 26. He was a three-time BIG EAST all-conference selection and a two-time All-American. Yet he was still nervous as he started the marathon in May.
"I had never run a marathon with that kind of elite field," he said. "I was like `what am I getting myself into?'"
He trained for about three or four months to prepare for the marathon and ran up to 120 miles in a week. The marathon was nerve-wracking because Korir was competing against runners who he had grown up watching on television. He shook off the nerves, won the marathon in a record time of 2:08:24 and collected $160,000 and a Honda Accord, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Korir did not have a game plan that he was going to execute throughout the race. "The only thing that I remember going through my mind was `I am going to stick with these guys and they are going to push me so I can run a faster time,'" he said.
Korir transferred to the University of Louisville after his freshman year at Murray State. He became more mature and that translated to more successful collegiate career. "I started respecting coaches more," said Korir. "That is when my running career started changing."
He credits his girlfriend, fellow Cardinal runner Tarah McKay, for helping to change his mentality and helping him to become a committed Christian.
Korir's favorite memory during his career at U of L was finishing third at the NCAA National Championships to close out his collegiate career, he said. "I went there and nobody knew about me," he said. "I went in there and gave it a hundred percent, and finished third. It was amazing."
As for his future goals, Korir hopes to compete in the Chicago Marathon and, depending on how he progresses, the Olympics.
He declined an invitation to try out for the Kenyan national team at the World Championships, because he was still tired after the marathon, but has the opportunity to compete for a spot again next year. "The Olympics are my next goal," he said. "I did not think I was ready to be a really strong contender at the World Championships this year."
For now, he is focusing on training and starting an orphanage back in his village of Eldoret, Kenya. "In Kenya, we do not have an organized athletic program like we have here." Sports gave Korir a chance to get an education, something he wants to give to the less fortunate children of his village.