Aberdare Ranges Primary School Cook Joins Our 1HumanRace Challenge
Neville Muta, or “Ken” to his friends, was one of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who found himself at Pipeline camp in Kenya as a result of the 2007 election violence in which he lost his friends and many in his family. Despite the horrors he went through, he was committed to changing his future for the better, and in 2010 became one of our first cooks at Aberdare Ranges Primary School (ARPS).
Like many young men in their early twenties, he loves to keep fit. But what makes Ken extraordinary is his ability to run long distances…fast (his Personal Best for a half marathon is currently 62 minutes – not far behind the current world record of 57.02!!). We first learned this when Ken started volunteering his time on Sundays to do athletics and running training with children from the community. He is amazing with children, and his passion for running shone through in every interaction. So, when So They Can’s team of fundraisers decided to run their first Masai Mara Half Marathon in 2015, a generous donor funded Ken to join the group.
“Ken completed the half marathon in just over an hour, coming back to find me and run with me for my last 6km!” our CEO, Cass Treadwell, shares.
After the half marathon, a generous group of runners from Australia heard about Ken’s abilities. They decided to sponsor him to train with the top Kenyan marathon runners and coaches and then arranged for him to fly to Australia and participate in the Outback Marathon.
About 4 months before the Outback half marathon, in preparation, Cass sent Ken a new pair of running shoes; he previously ran in bare feet. “When Ken arrived in Sydney I asked him how he liked his running shoes. He smiled and said, “Don’t be silly, I’m saving them for race day.””
Having never been on an aeroplane before, Ken had spent the whole 38 hour journey wide awake, trying all the different food and watching every movie he could. Typically Ken’s pre-race routine would be to have a cup of tea in the morning, some beans for lunch and rice for dinner, while running 50km per day. So you can imagine we were slightly concerned about this drastic change just before the big race.
It turns out we had nothing to worry about. Ken ran so fast that the marshals weren’t even in place to give him directions. In the end, despite the 38 hour binge, new running shoes and his 2km detour, Ken took first place in the Outback.
Back in Kenya, Ken continues to train and run in competitions in between working and volunteering with So They Can. Until last year, when the children were reintegrated into the community, he would regularly visit Miti Mingi Village to train the students in athletics and pass on his love of running.
Now, he’s decided to set himself a challenge, as part of our 1HumanRace, to run 85km over one weekend in March in order to raise money for the girls we work with in East Pokot. He says, “I love competitions and seeing what I’m capable of, but I also love helping those in need.” And his top tip for running long distances?
“The most important thing to remember in running marathons is to know how far you have come and the distance in front that you have to cover.”