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Rojo Speaks: Monday, April 17, 2007

Inspired By A Kenyan  Robert Cheruyiot
As I watched the final straight away of the 2007 Boston Marathon, I felt goose bumps all over and started to tear up as Robert Cheruyiot held on for his 3rd victory. I gave a little first pump and screamed, "Yes."

Talk about inspirational. Sports is full of inspirational stories, but in my mind, nothing is more inspirational than the life story of Robert Cheruyiot.  

If you aren't aware of Robert's story, then you must read John Powers amazing profile of him that appeared in the Boston Globe over the weekend. Abandoned by his parents, he lived first on one meal a day, then as a basically an indentured servant, then on 20 cents a day working in a barbershop during the day and homeless at night, comforted only by cigarettes which he said were an indulgence which kept him sane and prevented him from acting on the thoughts he was having about suicide.

Now he's on top of the world - the greatest marathoner currently on the planet. A winner in Chicago in the fall, he repeated today in Boston and is now a 3-time Boston Marathon champion and the certain winner of the first World Marathon Majors title and its $500,000 prize.

From nothing, to so much. But it's not about the money for Cheruyiot. As he stated in the article, "When I was young, I was not thinking about having money but having somewhere to live." Or as his brother said, "Ten years ago, we were next to beggars,"

Lance Armstrong recovering from cancer is a good story for sure, but he was a professional athlete at the time. From a homeless smoker to on top of the world. Unbelievable.

Adding to the inspiration is just what has happened since his Chicago marathon victory last fall when he slipped on a sponsor's logo and suffered serious head trauma.  I mean if Cheruyiot were an American, he likely would have sued the **** out of Chicago.  He was forced to go back to the hospital just 3 weeks ago because of headaches. Instead, he gets back to what he does best - running - and wins Boston. Unreal.

Can you imagine the press he'd be getting if he were American? Sadly, because he is Kenyan, he is largely ignored, viewed as part of a black mass instead of an amazing individual. So read the profile, be inspired and tell a friend of yours about this truly remarkable life story.

Comments? Please email Robert.
here to read Robert's other columns.

Editor's Note: Robert Johnson, a.k.a. "Rojo", is best known for being the co-founder of LetsRun.com as well as the men's distance coach at Cornell University.  Robert has been running all of his life, but only competing seriously since the Fall of 1997 as a series of injuries curtailed his high school career and prevented him from running in college.  Since returning to competitive running, Robert progressed quickly and just missed out on qualifying for the 2000 US Men's Olympic Marathon Trials by running a 2:23:11 marathon at the 2000 Las Vegas Marathon.  A former high school math teacher, Robert has covered track and field for The Washington Post.

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