By MUTWIRI MUTUOTA
With more young athletes abandoning track running for the road, debate is raging on whether the trend is destroying or furthering the careers of local talent.
Retired world 3000m world record holder, Daniel Komen, 1991 World 5000m champion, Yobes Ondieki and Benjamin Limo, who won the same distance at the 2005 edition in Helsinki have come out to admonish the mass exodus to road running.
"Unlike our times when we used to turn to the roads after a long career on the track, nowadays they are thinking only about money. This is burning many of them while they are still young," Ondieki told FeverPitch earlier this month.
One of the athletes who has made an early turn for the roads is Mathew Kisorio, the son of the late Some Muge, the first Kenyan to medal at the World Cross (senior bronze, 1983).
"I love track running but I decided to move to the road after realising I did not have the finishing speed required. Track has become very competitive and one needs to have endurance and a good kick which I realised I do not have," Kisorio told FeverPitch after winning the senior men 12km long race at the sixth KCB/AK National Cross Country series meet in Nyahururu.
"When I failed to get a medal at the African Championships (fourth/5000m) despite doing all I could, I realised my future lies on road running," Kisorio, who ran to a 60:01 half marathon debut victory in Porto (October) explained.
"My aim is to return to the World Cross since I lost this year at the Trials. Then, I will concentrate on road running and hoping to break the world record in 10km, 15km or half marathon," the athlete who returned successive sixth place finishes at the 2008 Edinburgh (junior) and Amman (senior) a year later stated.
He admitted the lucrative payout in road races is another motivating factor for his decision to step up while barely 24 years old.
"Road races pay better than track though one has to be careful since the risk for injury is higher. Running, like any other profession is a career and we live out of it."
Kisorio disclosed his younger brother, Peter Kimeli who was seventh (junior) at Amman World Cross was training to make his marathon debut leaving only their youngest sibling, Nicholas Togom who was fifth (junior) in Nyahururu as the only Some son keen on track.
"The competitive nature of track running means only few can make a rewarding career out of it and this leaves us no choice," Kisorio, who announced his coming by bagging double gold (5000m and 10000m) at the 2007 Africa Juniors in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso expressed.
Leonard Patrick Komon, the runner whom Kisorio hopes to supplant as world record holder over 10km and 15km also moved to the roads after failed attempts to excel in the track.