Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kenya, Running and Genealogy?

We are a family of runners. I was a medal-winning high school runner. My husband was a state cross country champion "back in the day" and even ran professionally. Both of my sons are state-qualifying cross country and track runners. Trust me, we have the t-shirt and hoodie collection to prove it! So it isn't a surprise to find our family camped out in front of the television over the weekend, watching an international track meet.

Part of the recent history of distance running includes amazing athletes from Kenya. My husband raced against many. And while the United States has improved internationally, Kenyans are still medal-winners in many middle and long distance races.

The start list of a recent race prompted a family discussion of names and naming customs. Many of the Kenyan athletes had the phrase "Kip" as part of their name. So we investigated.

Kip generally refers to events surrounding one's birth:
  • Kiplagat - born at sunset
  • Kipkirui - born shortly after dark
  • Kipkemboi - born at night
  • Kipruto - born away from home, on safari
These names belong to an ethno-linguistic group called Kalenjin. This is only a snippet of a complex custom, similar to patronymic naming. I am certainly no expert, just a fan, and there are many articles online, including Kenya Runners and Kenyan Names if you are interested in reading more. When the London Olympics roll around later this summer Moscow World Championships start this weekend and you hear a Kenyan name announced, you'll know how to find out what it means. This is how two of my worlds - genealogy and running - collide. 

Kenyan flag clipart courtesy: http://www.worldatlas.com

Reprinted from my May 26, 2012 post with minor edits re: World Championships

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© 2013 Sally Knudsen

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