NAIROBI, Kenya, November 6 – Little known Julius Arile Lamerinyang from West Pokot County, has the Tegla Loroupe Peace Race to thank for giving him a platform to join quit cattle rustling for athletics in 2003.
Competing for the first time in a major marathon, Arile managed to break through a star studded entry in Sunday’s New York City Marathon, finishing fourth, two minutes behind winner Geoffrey Mutai who clocked 2:08:24 to defend his title to formally introduce himself to the high table of distance running.
It all started 10 years ago when former women’s world marathon record holder Loroupe who hails from the region introduced an event to bring together warring communities of Pokot, Marakwet, Turkana and the Karamanjoong of Uganda to reduce conflict in the area well known of cattle rustling.
Arile opted to register for the event just for fun, but after winning Sh25, 000 (USD292.40), he choose to abandon the gun and chasing after cattle in the forest to concentrate on competing for money.
“Back then, I was a hero in cattle rustling but in the year 2000, I was in Uganda forest looking after cattle and stealing others from the neighbouring country and the experience is not good since you always put your life in danger.
“I always refer Tegla as my mentor because since she introduced the peace race, I joined it for the first edition and besides winning a cash prize, I realized I had talent and after thinking over it, I found out that I can earn money without engaging in war like I did before.
“Since I stopped cattle rustling, my life has tremendously changed after competing in road races and marathons outside the country and also helped others to abandon the gun and join me in the world of athletics,” Arile who trains in Eldoret with former World half marathon champion Wilson Chebet, explained on Tuesday at JKIA on arrival from New York.
The 30 year’s old who now aims for the Boston Marathon next season, said Sunday’s race was very tough due to the windy and cold weather conditions.
“I was expecting to run good time similar to Mutai’s but the climate really barred me from finishing first, but I thank God for this fourth finish as it’s my best achievements ever.
“Every body was seeing Ugandan and World marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich and Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede as the main competitors.
“But when we were running, the cold was too much that no one wanted to lead the pack, until half way but at 35 km to the finish, Mutai opened up the gap, followed by Kebede and I decided to follow them and finally finishing fourth to record my Personal Best at 2:10:03,” the jovial runner who competed at Prague Marathon in May told.
He raced 2:13:31 for seventh in the Czech Republic, having finished sixth (2:12:13) there a year earlier before clocking 2:15.17 for fifth at the Honolulu Marathon last December.
In 2011, he was tenth (2:12:13) and eighth in Danzhou (2:17:29) but having inched closer to the podium in a Marathon Majors race, Arile is itching to take his career a notch higher now that the world has taken notice of his talent.