Local residents banded together in order to bring Kenyan runners Gilbert Kiptoo and Philip Kipchumba to Thunder Bay.
Kiptoo, who has taken first place at the Miles With the Giant Marathon last year and the 10 Mile Road Race for the past two years, almost missed his flight because of financial restraints.
Kiptoo and his fellow countryman Kipchumba run each year in order to send money back home. If the pair of runners take first and second again this year they will send their winnings home in order to send seven children for each of their villages to school for a year.
The 29-year-old said he continues to keep running in the race each year because of the support of the community.
“This year it wasn’t easy for us to come here but they sacrificed and bought us tickets,” Kiptoo said. “Life back home was a bit tough. This is the second year that they are support our children to go back to school. (The students) are very happy. They gave us letters to send back and others took pictures.”
Kiptoo and Kipchumba joined more than 100 runners outside Fresh Air Experience for one last training run before the 10 Mile Road Race on Monday.
Sandy Guthrie, coordinator for the 10 Mile training group, said when she learned that the two of them couldn’t make it on their own she asked for 100 people to donate $20 to buy them tickets. Within two weeks, she accomplished that goal.
“They feed their family and village for a whole year with the money they win through the race here,” Guthrie said. “They will come first and second hopefully and they share the money. One’s not first one’s not second they split the money down the middle.”
She said it costs $200 to send one child to school for a year in Kenya and added the amount raise should be close to $3,000.
She said people can still donate by coming by the store.
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