GOLD COAST, Australia, Mar 27- He will be one of the oldest competitors in the marathon course at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast Australia, but irrespective of his 44 years, Kenya’s Kenneth Mungara will be the one to beat.
The current Gold Coast Marathon race record holder (2:08:42) made a late start to marathon taking up the sport 11 years ago.
A former barber, the veteran runner swapped the scissors with joggers after cutting the hair of other athletes.
“I believed I could run well,” Mungara told GC2018.com
“I watched other runners coming to my barber shop, I observed them, and I thought I can beat them in running. That is how it all started.”
Residing in a small town called Limuru, with a population of 4,800, the father of six has competed in over 20 marathon races since his debut in 2006.
Three of the races have been on the stretch of road between Runaway Bay and Burleigh with his first win coming in 2015.
The world masters record holder (40-45), also claimed first place on the Gold Coast upon his return in 2016 before settling for second place last year.
But the Commonwealth Games debutante doesn’t believe his history on the Gold Coast streets will give him the edge come April 15.
“Everyone running is a winner and this is the game in which one needs to play well all the time, otherwise winning is not possible,” Mungara said.
“It is about the training for the race and then racing well.
“Success is from God and from hard work and this is what I firmly believe in.”
Mungara, alongside his teammates will be out to reclaim Kenya’s title which was lost to Australia’s Michael Shelley at the Glasgow 2014 Games.
The GC2018 Athletics Ambassador claimed the title in just 2.11:15 with Kenya’s Stephen Chemlany finishing 43 seconds behind him for the silver.
Mungara, a four-time Toronto Marathon winner, is doing everything in his power to be race ready.
“Long run, speedwork twice a week, tempo and easy recovery running,” Mungara said when asked what his training schedule looks like.
“I train seriously, because I have people who support me watching and I can’t disappoint them. I train six days per week and do around 10 sessions per week on average.
“I also do lots of exercise and mentor younger athletes in my group.”
Kenya has named a strong marathon contingent for GC2018 with 2017 Copenhagen marathon winner Julius Nderitu and 2017 Kosice marathon winner Sheila Jerotich joining Mungara.
And Mungara is ready to do his family and country proud with his six children especially eager to see their dad wear the black red and green.
“Yes! The Member of Parliament, Governor, friends, my parents, wife and children, of course,” Mungara responded when asked if his hometown will be watching the race.
“I am at the training camp at the moment and when I visit family, my children ask me to watch the race to see how well I’ve done and I have to remind them that it is not done yet, that they need to be patient.
I am happy to represent my country, many people dream of wearing the Kenyan vest, not only me, and because I was given this privilege and responsibility, I need to make sure I use it well.
“I am coming to win the race, that’s the only plan.”
The Kenyan marathon team heading to GC2018 includes:
Julius Nderitu (PB of 2:08:01)
Kenneth Mungara (PB of 2:07:36)
Nicholas Kamakya (PB of 2:06:34)
Hellen Musyoka (PB of 2:35:58)
Sheila Jerotich (PB of 2:27:34)
Shelmith Muriuki (PB of 2:38:18)
-Courtesy Gold Coast 2018 official website