Williams Lake long-distance runner Sheldon Manchur crosses the finish line at the Sun Peaks Dirty Feet Race in September.

Williams Lake long-distance runner Sheldon Manchur crosses the finish line at the Sun Peaks Dirty Feet Race in September.

Manchur to join elite runners in Africa

A Williams Lake runner is moving to Kenya for six months to train with some of the best runners in the world.

A Williams Lake runner is moving to Kenya for six months to train with some of the best runners in the world.

Sheldon Manchur has been training for and doing well at marathons and half-marathons throughout B.C. for the past 18 months, along with racing in April’s Boston Marathon.

Now, the 28-year-old said he’s ready to test the waters in a remote African village which attracts some of the top runners in the world.

The village, Iten, has an estimated population of about 4,000 people.

“Two-thousand of those are top-quality runners from any distance — 400 metres up to marathon runners,” Manchur said.

“It’s kind of a poorer village, but the significance of it is over the years it’s somehow become a mecca for the Kenyan runners.

“Anybody who wants to become a full-time runner or already is a full-time runner is kind of attracted to and merge to this village.”

Famous British long-distance runner Mo Farah, who won gold medals in both the 5,000-metre and the 10,000-metre races at the 2012 London Olympics, trains out of Iten for parts of the year, Manchur added.

“It’s everybody helps everybody else out there,” he said. “Most of the winners of the top marathons — the Boston Marathon and the Berlin Marathon — the majority of those are won by Kenyan athletes, and the majority of those are from this village.

“They’re very open. You’ll get groups of five, to 10, to 20 people going out on these runs together ranging from the best in the world to people like me at the back.”

He said depending on how things go in Kenya he’ll then make a decision on whether he wants to commit more time to the sport.

“I don’t quite know yet [if it’s something I want to do full time],” he said.

“It’s something I’ve thought about, a lot. But it takes years to get there — years of being a full-time athlete and that means years off work for the most part, so it’s a big commitment to make.

“I’m going to do these six months — that’ll be kind of like doing a full-time gig, and see how that goes and how it progresses and kind of make a decision when I come back on how I want to go forward.”

To find accommodations during their trip Manchur said he contacted an American documentary-maker, Martin Mudry, who spent three months in the village filming a documentary in Iten on the Kenya runners called Where Dreams Don’t Fade.

“He was in the middle of doing his final editing of the documentary, so he was a huge help,” Manchur said.

“He was very familiar with the area so he got me in touch with some locals and managed to find a place to stay that way.”

Manchur will be travelling to Kenya with his fiancee, Shelby Moon, who he said also plans to take advantage of the running opportunities during their stay.

Most recently Manchur finished first overall in the men’s half marathon at a cross country race, the Kamloops Dirty Feet Race at Kenna Cartwright Park.

Manchur and Moon leave Oct. 16 for Iten, Kenya.

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