I must admit that when Sammy Wanjiru really exploded onto the marathon scene and changed the way that Championship marathons were run by the way he attacked the Olympic marathon in Beijing, I didn’t know enough about the history of marathoning or the individuals who have played such important parts in making it such an exciting and awe-inspiring sport, to really appreciate what he had done. I’d only been running for a couple of years. Nevertheless I watched the race and delighted in Wanjiru’s speed and attacking style.
I guess like most people, I expected to see Wanjiru dominate the marathon for years and years to come. On that day in the heat in China and in the Chicago marathon two years later in October 2010, that predicted dominance seemed to be coming true. But Wanjiru’s story was not to have a happy ending, although unlike that of Steve Prefontaine, Sammy’s end was to have very, very dark and sinister undertones that remain unresolved to this day.
This story is told most eloquently and movingly by David Epstein in his article about the life of Wanjiru that you can read here. It is well worth the time.
Whatever you believe about Sammy Wanjiru and the way that he met, his end, it is a remarkable story and let us never forget the way that he ran that marathon. Perhaps we will never see an approach to running a marathon that turns things on their head in the same way again.