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  • Kenyans "naturally" better?

    Found this link on front of letsrun this morning

    http://www.canada.com/montreal/montreal ... 1b218cd87d

  • #2
    Re: Kenyans

    That is such old 'news', but somewhere Mr. Entine is smiling anyway.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Kenyans

      A good (long) anti-Entine take on the subject can be found at:

      http://www2.webpark.cz/booboo/BOOBOO.HTM

      An excerpt:

      "The final example of black athletic superiority in TABOO is the growing presence of blacks in bobsledding ... which must be meant as a joke, otherwise one could die from laughing."

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      • #4
        Re: Kenyans

        excellent read - thanks.

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        • #5
          Re: Kenyans

          Just how important is the "altitude factor" is obviously difficult - impossible? - to quantify . The Kenyans are undoubtedly "hungry" athletes, athletic success being a way to dramatically improve their financial situation - a lot more so than in the West. There is a parallel situation in boxing were years ago there were a lot of "hungry" Jewish boxers, but, as the Jewish population became generally wealthier, less and less of their ranks took up boxing.

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          • #6
            Re: Kenyans

            http://www2.webpark.cz/booboo/BOOBOO.HTM

            A superb summary.
            "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
            by Thomas Henry Huxley

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            • #7
              Re: Kenyans

              I am the author of the page. But I will soon make an update, where I will add an interesting thing: As the researchers in the article listed above state, Kenyans have an advantage in their better running economy (which is true). However, it is also true that there are European (white) runners, who can match Kenyans in the economy of movement. Great runners of the past like Frank Shorter or Derek Clayton are often listed as good examples. Their economy of movement was comparable with the best Kenyans.

              Why don't they match them in track? I think this may be the real key to the Kenyan mystery. It is a well known fact that people with high VO2 max. values have moderate running economy. On the other hand, highly economical runners posess rather low values of VO2 max. The cause of this discrepancy hasn't been definitively resolved so far, but on the basis of my current knowledge I would say that it has something to do with the amount of the runner's muscle mass. Those, who have more muscle mass consume more oxygen, which also means more intense stimulation for the development of cardiac output (cross-country skiers, people with the highest VO2 max. values in the sports world, can be a very good example: their enormous values of oxygen consumption result from the very complex movement incorporating a large muscle mass of the upper body). More muscle mass naturally leads to worse economy of movement. On the other hand, highly economical runners have very little muscle mass and thus low VO2 max. values.

              The key question is: WHY SUCH HIGHLY ECONOMICAL RUNNERS LIKE KENYANS HAVE VERY HIGH VO2 MAX. VALUES?
              Is it the influence of altitude? This could easily explain, why other subtle Africans from lowlands (like South Africans mentioned on my page) don't run so well, especially in the 5-10 km, where high VO2 max. values are crucial for success. But according to studies that have been done, Kenyans don't posess high concentrations of red blood cells.

              Or is it the consequence of the exhausting movement in the hilly terrain? Yes, some Kenyans may use EPO (as recent examples indicate), but many of them have extremely high VO2 max. as early as juniors.

              I would be curious for some comments. Currently I am planning to discuss it with some scientific authorities. In any case, I think for Europeans it is not so hopeless as it seems. As you can see on my page, the main reason of the current African prevailence (I especially mean in distances like 800/1500 m and the marathon) is simply a lack of interest in running in Europe (and elsewhere - including US - as well).

              Look at Moroccans or Algerians: they are Caucasians, too, only somewhat slender than most of Europeans, which can explain, why they are more successful in longer distances (3-10 km). Again, it is probably the influence of altitude enviroment adding some mls to their VO2 max. that elevates their potential a little bit above other Caucasian groups from lowlands, especially in the 5-10 km.

              But if they consistently beat the best Kenyans in the 1500 m, why Europeans couldn't beat the best Kenyans in the 800 m, where running economy is even less important and VO2 max. values are much lower?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Kenyans

                Other factors must be considered. For example, in Europe, running is way down the the list of popular sporting activities. I would guess that, in almost every European country, soccer is the major sport, and every soccer player means one less potential runner. Now in Kenya, the reverse in probably true i.e. all the best natural athletes find their way into running and not soccer or basketball or whatever.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Kenyans

                  It has been posted multiple times on this board, by people who seem to have first-hand knowledge, that soccer dwarfs running in Kenya, both in terms of participation and public interest.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Kenyans

                    cartouche,

                    If you run a whole lot as a child (when your CNS pathways are still being finalized) and you wear next to nothing (or nothing) on your feet your mechanics will be perfect for the rest of your life. The organism will strive for speed and efficiency and at that age it's very easy to establish.

                    Additionally, because of the developmental stage children are in at that point in their lives, similar workoads of aerobic work (ie., 70 mi/wk) are going to have a greater, longer lasting impact than 25 yr olds doing the same volume. At that age in their youth there is so much more bang for your buck. That's why an African who has run 20,000 miles at 18 will (usually) be far superior in performance to his/her European/American counterpart who has 20,000 miles at 25 years of age.

                    And even when people sight great runners like Wilson K. or Tergat and say "they didn't run to school", okay but they weren't sitting on their ass playing Nintendo either. They were running around, chasing goats, playing tag, spending lots of time on their feet with minimal anaerobic efforts (even in Wilson K's case at St. Patrick's).

                    It's a lifestyle combined with proper coaching, nationalized programs and monetary incentives that have brought forth the army of runners from east and north Africa. America was much more competitive (than now) in the 70s when its runners were much more active in youth (using there feet to get almost everywhere; only 3 channels on the TV, no video games/computers, etc.) and did big volumes in HS and college (I've talked with Steve Scott about this and he said, while he was just running about 40mi/wk in HS before he was running 90-100 in college, he was hardly indoors, always on his feet doing something).

                    That's why Africa is the king of middle and long distance running. The gene pools are being tapped.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Kenyans

                      Soccer may be popular in Kenya, BUT I bet there's little money to be made! No, running will still attract athletes away from soccer in Kenya in a way that wouldn't happen in Europe. I remember when I was in school in England being conscious of the fact that the best athletes found their way into soccer - and cricket, to a lesser extent.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Kenyans

                        The sensitivity of the 'race' factor is always interesting and ironical. Talking to the black father of a competing athlete at a recent NCAA track meet, I (white male) was doing all I could to be race-free in my thinking, not wanting to be benignly or biologically racist, ready to attribute performance to economic, social, cultural, and psychological sources, not to mention practice & coaching. He shrugs and says, "Blacks have better 'repeat,'" meaning that (for those who, like me at the time, didn't understand the expression) they can pick up their feet and put them down faster than runners of other races, to put it bluntly. He mentioned the 'fast-twitch' advantage, and I left the conversation feeling like a backward, pseudo 'color blind' thinker.

                        Doesn't Entine argue that the source of elite Kenyan runners is a tribe WITHIN that country, and thus that the statistical odds, all the other factors notwithstanding, are just too great to explain this phenomenon happening for non-genetic reasons?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Kenyans

                          A naturalized Swede defeated the Kenyans yesterday (Saturday) in the GöteborgsVarvet 1/2 marathon (http://www.goteborgsvarvet.com/resultat ... lopp=stora):

                          1 Mustafa Mohamed Hälle IF 1.04.03
                          2 Janne Holmén Finland 1.04.11
                          3 Pavel Loskutov Estland 1.05.06
                          4 Daniel Kiprugut Kenya 1.05.08
                          5 Khalid Skah Marocko 1.05.09
                          6 Claes Nyberg IF Göta 1.05.10
                          7 Henrik Sandstad SK Vidar, Norge 1.05.11
                          8 Nicodemus Kiprono Kenya 1.05.17
                          9 Fred Mogaka Tumbu Kenya 1.06.10
                          10 Mostapha Errebah Italien 1.06.24

                          Mohamed has prs of 13.41,78 5k - 8.23,35 steeple - 28.49,14 10k. He may believe that Kenyans are naturally better, but he didn:t demonstrate that yesterday, showing them that they were not going to take control in his house. He also won in 2002 (1.03.35).

                          Ninth-placer Fred Mogaka, ran 1.01 in Berlin earlier last month.

                          Kenyans, if they are (or are not) naturally "better" than other athletes in question, are still beatable - evidenced by the Ethiopian demonstration at the World Cross Championships this past spring.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Kenyans

                            As well as native Finn, apparently.

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