But I do want to comment on your thought of:
Adrian Marriott wrote:
Talent, understanding and motivation. We can achieve incredible things when we put our minds to it.
Since we are talking about East Africans, I AM glad you put "talent" first. No matter what one says, this is not truly akin to building superior technology like the Wright Bros planes to Boeing Jets. With the human body, one IS limited by the raw material, ie, the genes that comprise/create the muscles, bones, tendons, etc. Yes, the "mind/spirit" IS the X factor, but I do think it is interesting that so many think that by just "moving to Kenya" or adopting a "Kenya mentality" that they will suddenly run like Kenyans. If only it were so simple. Unfortunately, it is often the other way around: look at Meb, he moves FROM East Africa TO the US, adopts (at least on SOME levels) western conceptions of training, culture, etc, and what happens? He becomes a silver medalist. Many others have done the same.
In short , you can take the East African out of East Africa, but you CAN'T take the East African (genes, natural talent) out of the East African. And on the flip-side, you can move the Westerner to East Africa and adopt their land and culture, but you are unable to let him adopt the East Africa TALENT.
Sorry to beat a dead horse, but this is reality. Moving to altitude brings you some benefits. But having ANCESTORS who have lived at atltitude for 100, 000 years, and have adapted to that environment and have passed on genes that survive in that environment......now THAT is a real advantage you will never be able to come by.
You don't "think" your way to a 26:20. You don't "believe" your way to 4 double (Bekele) or 5 single (Tergat) World X-C titles. You can't even TRAIN your way to it if you don't have the necessary talent to begin with. You just don't.
And as I have mentioned before, the supposed perfect training environment of East Africa is a double-edged sword. Many of you may have lived there as visitors, but how many of you grew up there in abject poverty, and possibly suffered malnutrition, suffered illness or disease because of lack of medicine? There may be advantages to training/living/growing up there, but there are disadvantages too. So I will change your quote a tad:
"TALENT, understanding and motivation. We can achieve incredible things when we put our minds to it and our BODIES allow us to achieve what we envision. And some people's bodies allow them to live out more extreme visions than others' bodies, and allow those visions to come true more easily than others."