Athenry Athletics Club was delighted to welcome an old friend of the club, Kenyan elite runner, multiple Connemarathon winner and former Dublin City Marathon record holder, Lezan Kimutai, to their Saturday morning training session recently.

On Saturday April 30th, Lezan took time out from a busy schedule between winning the 2011 Connemarathon half marathon (1:11:16) and just one day before placing second in the Great Limerick Run (marathon) in 2:24:21, to join both the 9am and 10am Fit4Life running sessions, to the delight of the club members.

For Lezan, an invitation to race in Ireland is a chance to escape from a country plagued by ethnic unrest. Lezan and his family are just a statistic among 600,000 people displaced from their homes in a country torn apart by political unrest. Over 1,000 people were killed following a disputed election at the end of December 2007, which brought president Mwai Kibaki back to power despite substantiated claims that the results were rigged. Of those who died, more than half hailed from the Rift Valley province, home to most of Kenya's top athletes because of its highest point of 1,500m above sea level. Like most of the athletes, Kimutai belongs to the Kalenjin tribe, many of whom supported the main opposition candidate. When the results were announced, groups of Kalenjins and other local tribes revolted against the Kikuyus - the group to which the president belonged.

Travelling to Ireland allows Kimutai to earn valuable money racing, which he invests back into his local community. A trip to Ireland and participation in these marathons provides Lezan with enough money to support his family for almost six months in Kenya. Previous winnings, including the Dublin marathon, have allowed Lezan to build a school in his local village, as well as houses and shacks for others. The Kenyan previously won the Connemarathon half marathon in 2003 and 2005. Lezan is also the former record holder of the Dublin City Marathon completing the race in 2004 in an impressive time of two hours and thirteen minutes.

Athenry AC is always delighted to welcome Lezan back to the club, and both groups he joined on Saturday greatly enjoyed the chance to run with an elite runner and champion. As someone who has shown great personal courage and ambition in his personal life and career, against many odds, we applaud his great spirit, strength and talent.