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Story


An Expedition into

the Kenyan Distance

Running

Phenomenon

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Story


An Expedition into

the Kenyan Distance

Running

Phenomenon

The Enculturated Champion is a project that seeks to understand the Kenyan distance running phenomenon from a cultural perspective.  Over the past 50 years the world has grown accustomed to watching athletes with Kenyan flags draped across their backs celebrate convincing victories in everything from the 800 meter race to the marathon.  Indeed, since 1968, over half of the best times ever recorded in the Olympic distance events were run by Kenyans.  For a nation of only 50 million people, this outpouring of athletic prowess is startling and begs the question as to HOW it is possible.  The Enculturated Champion promises to uncover that mystery by following Kenya's elite and amateur runners through the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.  Using a combination of modern media and traditional ethnography, this project will delve into the heart of the Kenyan running culture, providing its followers with an unparalleled perspective into the life and journey taken by East Africa's elite athletes.  Theirs is a story of sacrifice, perseverance, and triumph; a story that this project hopes to illuminate for a global audience...      

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Imani


The Spirit

Imani


The Spirit

"Catching the Spirit".  It is a phrase often used by Kenya's elite athletes when asked to describe their record-breaking runs.  "The Spirit" is a sacred feeling among these athletes, a source of motivation and faith that can only be found in running's precious moments where exhaustion gives way to invincibility.  This project will expand on this concept by offering a rare glimpse into the mindset that yields the planet's greatest endurance runners.  Interviews and biographies with the Rift Valley's athletes, coaches and agents will be posted on a weekly basis...   

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The Ritual


 

The Ritual

The Ritual


 

The Ritual

The process of becoming an elite athlete is arduous.  It demands self-sacrifice, perseverance, and an unflinching faith in oneself.  Nowhere is this truer than Kenya.  The men and women who commit their lives in pursuit of the running dream do so with ascetic-like discipline.  Training becomes ritual, one that is practiced daily at daybreak.  Every equatorial sunrise is greeted by thousands of athletes determined to test their mettle against the western highland's rolling hills and 7,000 feet of elevation.  Their performance is as brutal as it is beautiful, and will be captured weekly by the Project's photography and video team...    

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The Journey


The Journey

The Journey


The Journey

Every athlete has a story.  Whether it is Kip Keino's father working Western Kenya's tea plantations and foot-racing for a canister of gasoline, or Geoffrey Mutai breaking rocks in order to pay for grammar school, the experiences and choices made by Kenyan athletes paint a grand picture as to how the Kenyan distance running phenomenon is possible.  The Enculturated Champion project is determined to unveil the inspiring journeys Kenya's athletes take in their quest to become the world's greatest runner.  The story begins March 1, 2016...

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Olympic Dreams


The Dream

Olympic Dreams


The Dream