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Misoi: Indefatigable star who almost quit after many poor shows

Athletics
 Frankfurt Champion Brimin Kipkorir trains at his Kapkitony trading center Maoni Location in Keiyo South Constituency. January 3, 2024. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

You will be pardoned if you met Brimin Kipkorir Misoi for the first time and thought he was an ordinary villager who was yet to travel beyond his nearest major town – Eldoret.

In his high altitude village – Kapkitony in Keiyo South, his simplicity and humility stands out.

Meet the back-to-back winner of Frankfurt Marathon (2022-2023), a man who has faced gigantic hurdles on his way to road racing stardom.

Standard Sports found the unassuming road racing star shelling beans alongside a group of casual workers drawn from his village at his home in Kapkitony trading centre.

In the German city of Frankfurt, perhaps, a standing ovation signifies his arrival to the start line and wild cheers on the podium.

“When I am at home, I am a farmer. Farming helps me to connect with family especially when recovering after tough races and training,” the 34-year-old athlete says.

But while in Kapkitony, and when not rigorously training in readiness for a race abroad or locally, an indefatigable Misoi is a humble beans and maize farmer.

He quickly notes also that he herds his cattle during off seasons. He also feeds his indigenous chicken.

That aside, the Frankfurt Marathon champion, despite his soft demeanor, does not shy away from revealing his big ambitions.

Before his inaugural win at the 2022 Frankfurt Marathon, Misoi had lost many battles for top honours in local races.

Misoi also reflects on successes in hotly contested races that marked his breakthrough, propelling to global races while endearing him to athletics managers.

“Local races in Kenya are the toughest. Everyone is good and trains hard before the race. Anyone finishing first in a local race can win any global race, if they get the opportunity,” says Misoi.

His talent was spotted by Julius Maiyo, a primary school coach who was then his teacher in Kapkitony in the 2000s.

By 2009 when he was 20, Misoi says, his mission to become a world beating athlete was gaining momentum but he had not been signed by any sports manager.

He started serious training in 2010 in Chirchir, Uasin Gishu County.

“I remember knocking several doors in search for a manager, but managements wanted impressive performance before taking you in. I had only taken part in school competitions in 2006,” Misoi told Standard Sports.

 Frankfurt Champion Brimin Kipkorir Misoi, a part from being an athlete, he always takes care of his family as a farmer. The Standard crew spotted him preparing mean products at his Kapkitony trading center Maoni Location in Keiyo South Constituency. January 3, 2024. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

With no management and desire to showcase what he was made of, Misoi partnered with athletes such as 2021 New York City Marathon champion Albert Korir, former Mumbai Standard Chartered Marathon winner Gideon Kipketer and Mathew Kiprop, and trained hard.

He would train in Kaptagat and Chirchir in Uasin Gishu as well as his current base in Kapkitony – an elevation of 2500m.

Injuries however dashed the hopes of breakthroughs in his career, and he almost gave up after he failed to make top 10 in local showdowns.

In other instances, he missed the podium not because of injuries but owing to tough challenges from experienced Kenyan stars, who were using the local races as the propellers to well-oiled contests across the globe.

He looked up to athletes such as David Barmasai, the 2009 Dubai Marathon champion who grew up in Kapkitony but he could not measure up to their class because they were more experienced that time.

He ran Kass Marathon in Eldoret and finished 50th as he started off 13 years ago.

“I ran Kass Marathon in 2016 and finished 11th. I went back to prepare for Kilimanjaro Marathon but finished 15th. That was the year I contemplated giving up athletics,” Misoi, a father of three recalls.

He goes ahead to say: “But I could not give up because I came from a humble background and I needed to support my family.”

After shrugging off the negative thought of giving up road racing, he gave the 2027 Nairobi Standard Chartered Marathon a shot, and he won.

The Nairobi Standard Chartered Marathon triumph, Misoi says renewed his hopes of rising to 42km running stardom.

“The win at the Nairobi marathon was my breakthrough. The win gave me the hope and the willpower to continue aiming for better performances in the marathon,” he says.

He goes on: “I later competed in Lille Marathon where I finished fifth. I would have won but I was struggling with an injury. I also took part in the Gold Coast marathon but I couldn’t finish because of an injury. I decided to run a local race in Iten and finished third.”

In October 2019, he took to the streets of the country’s capital for the Nairobi Standard Chartered Marathon, where he bagged his second title.

At the Nairobi marathon races, he improved his time by over a minute from 2:12:39 in 2017 to 2:10:43 in 2019.

Before the victory in Nairobi, Misoi had lined up at the Vienna Marathon in April 2019, placing sixth in 2:09:31.

After the Covid-19 disruptions in 2020 and 2021, Misoi announced his grand return with a win at the inaugural Uhuru Classic marathon in Nairobi in May 2022. He recovered from a fall at the start to cruise past a rich field before cutting the tape in 2:08:30.

At the 2021 Eldoret City Marathon, he dropped at the 40km mark due to a nagging injury.

Later in 2022, he lined up in Frankfurt and produced his first win.

Earlier last year, he competed at his first World Marathon Majors in Tokyo, placing 13th in 2:07:36.

“Tokyo was my first World Marathon Major. I did not win it because I had not prepared enough for that class of field but I am determined to perform much better in my next major.

“I usually go back to the drawing board and we review the mistakes we have made. After Tokyo, I prepared myself for my title defence in Frankfurt and I succeeded because I trained so hard for it,” he reveals.

 Frankfurt Champion Brimin Kipkorir Misoi, a part from being an athlete, he always takes care of his family as a farmer. The Standard crew spotted him preparing mean products at his Kapkitony trading center Maoni Location in Keiyo South Constituency. January 3, 2024. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

After the Christmas break, Misoi began his warm ups ahead of training as he prepares for another moment to write history at the 2024 Paris Marathon in April.

“There are two suggestions for me – that is Rotterdam and Paris Marathons. I choose Paris because I want to feel the streets of the French capital,” he says.

Misoi also hopes to run at the World Marathon Majors soon, and fly the Kenyan flag in an international championship during his career.

“If the opportunity to represent Kenya in the marathon comes my way, I will take that challenge,” he says.

On injuries that stopped him from topping several marathons, Misoi who is managed by Asics, says: “Injuries affected my career. I still believe that with advancing shoe technology, some injuries can be avoided.”

According to Misoi, most injuries are exacerbated by the nature of roads where an athlete trains.

“Our roads are rough and our training is rigorous. I came to learn that with good shoes, one can avoid some injuries. When the shoes wear and tear, they also put you at risk of injuries,” he says.

During his lowest moments (poor shows in local races), Misoi says he got support from his parents, wife and children.

“My nine-year-old son has shown interest in athletics and I am thinking of introducing him to the sport,” he says.

He says a number of achievements have so far prepared him for retirement, expressing hope of joining other top Kenyan athletics stars who become farmers. He still hopes for more trriumphs though.

He has also built himself and his family a house on the outskirts of Eldoret as part of his preparation for the future.

“You will not be an athlete forever. One day you will retire. I like doing what I will be doing in my retirement now. That is why you found me shelling beans," he says in his parting shot.

Last October, he broke the tape at the Frankfurt’s Festive Arena in 2:04:53 – a personal best.

He became the first athlete to defend a Frankfurt title since former world record holder Wilson Kipsang in 2010 and 2011.

BRIMIN MISOI IS SUMMARY:

Age: 34

Place of birth: Kapkitony, Elgeyo Marakwet County

He is a father of 3

He does farming during off season

ACHIEVEMENTS:

Local races:

Winner Uhuru Classic Marathon - 2022

Winner Nairobi Standard Chartered Marathon – 2019

Winner Nairobi Standard Chartered Marathon – 2017

Titles from international races:

Frankfurt Marathon – 2023

Frankfurt Marathon – 2022

Athens Classic Marathon - 2018

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