Lanni Marchant is arguably one of the toughest competitors out there. She finished second at The 2011 Canadian Marathon Championships before spending the better part of her summer studying for her bar exam. Read more to find out how her new job landed her in Kenya as she prepares to run The Rotterdam Marathon on April 15th.
RF: When did you graduate from Law School?
I graduated May 2010 and immediately moved down to Tennessee to start studying for the Tennessee Bar. I am planning on writing the Ontario Bar exam this Summer.
I work for Davis & Hoss, PC, the law firm in Chattanooga, Tennessee that I interned for during the summer breaks. We do a lot of criminal defense work, but I am also gaining experience in civil suits and representing police officers when there are officer involved shootings, etc.
RF: What inspired you to go to Kenya?
It is a bit of a story. Lee Davis’ (my boss) wife came over here last summer to tour around and learn a bit about the Kenyan running experience. I helped her with her cross-country team this fall and thought her whole experience was amazing. Flash forward to this past November, when my Mum came down to see me get sworn in, and Godfrey Kiprotich was in town from Kenya visiting my boss’s family and another long time friend. Godfrey and Lee had some conversations about my running, and after my swearing in ceremony, Godfrey, my Mum and I all sat in my office talking about the idea of me coming to Kenya to train for a Spring marathon. At first I thought the idea was crazy and really was not sure if I was going to go for it. I talked to my coach Dave Mills about it, and he thought it was a great idea. When I was in Japan to race the Chiba Ekiden, I spoke to Thelma Wright and Chris Moulton about the idea, and also got a small glimpse of how some of the “full-time” runners train back in Ontario. When I made my way back to Tennessee I figured it would be silly of me to turn down a once in a lifetime opportunity and started to put Godfrey and Lee’s plan into motion. The Law office was great about working with me to make this trip happen, and have been letting me do some small research projects while I’m over here.
RF: Where are you living and training?
I’m staying at the High Altitude Training Camp in Iten, Kenya. It is great! There are tons of other runners from other countries here, and everything is taken care of – food, housing, internet
RF: Who are you training with on a daily basis?
I do most of my morning runs with a Kenyan guy here in Iten. He is one of Godfrey’s athletes and has been great about meeting me and showing me around the different running routes. He has also helped pace me through some of my track sessions and some of my harder training runs. Last Sunday I had the great opportunity to run with Lineth Chepkurui for my long run. I’d like to say I stayed with her for the first 17.5 km, but I highly doubt she was putting in much effort at all. She easily dropped me going up a super long climb, but I did close in on her in the last few kilometers (again, I’m pretty certain she was just chilling).
The timing of my trip has been pretty perfect. Reid Coolsaet has been here for the first few weeks of my stay and I’ve been able to run with a few of his Belgian friends. Also, Tarah Korir (McKay) and Wesley Korir are here until March, so I have been able to run some with Tarah and hang out with their amazing little girl.
I have also been lucky to be able to do a tempo run with 5th Place U.S. Olympic Trials Marathoner Janet Cherobon-Bawcom and Tarah… while Wesley Korir (2:06 for 2nd place at Chicago marathon) called out our splits.
RF: How has your training differed since arriving in Kenya?
I am doing a lot more mileage here, which is to be expected. I run twice a day most days; something I have not done in years. Normally I would be afraid of getting injured, but the paths we run on are soft and unlike my training back home, I am able to rest and relax between sessions. My actual workouts are not too different from what I do back home, aside from the fact that there is what feels like hundreds of Kenyans on the dirt track on Tuesdays. It takes a bit to get used to running on the track with these guys or doing the huge fartlek on Thursdays, but it has been pretty fun. It also takes a bit to get used to dodging sheep when I’m doing hill repeats!
In terms of running I really have not seen a huge difference. The women here train hard and a lot of them either have their family to care for still, or they have made the ultimate sacrifice and moved here to train leaving their children and family at home. I have noticed that there seems to be a huge push towards helping women here in terms of special bank accounts and programs.
RF: Has anything funny happened in Kenya?
Actually, nothing too crazy or funny has happened here yet. I do get a pretty full day of laughing from hanging out with Reid and the other foreigners I have met… mostly Belgians at this point. I had a Kenyan man tell me at one of the cross-country races that he’s always wanted to marry a Canadian girl, and we have two runners from an un-named country that appear to be attempting to create the world’s biggest fruit salad with all the fruit they take off to their room after dinner. I would say that one of the more fun experiences for me has been riding down to Eldoret in a matatu with Reid, Pieter, and about nine other people. My first matatu experience, but apparently our full matatu was nowhere near as full as what Reid has experienced. Aside from that, most of our days are spent making jokes at the meal table and playing cards in the internet lounge area.
RF: Are there running stores in Kenya?
Yes, there are a few running stores here in Iten, and at least 1 that I know about in Eldoret. They carry most everything here and you can get some Kenya gear if you so desire. There are of course a lot of very accomplished runners here, but there are a lot more who have not made it and are very appreciative of any “extras” we can give them. I brought over a suitcase full of running shirts etc to give out, and I know that Reid and his roommate Pieter have given away their spare sets of shoes now that they are packing up.
RF: Are you in the same training groups or camp as Reid?
Yes I am. He was here a few weeks before me and actually leaves today. It was fun having a fellow Cannuck here to show me around for the first little bit.
RF: What do you eat?
They have everything prepared for us here. In the mornings I usually have oatmeal and a banana, an egg or two if I have already done my morning run. Lunch is usually some kind of soup, pasta or rice, and some kind of veggie mix with beans or lentils, and some form of salad (cucumber or beets and pineapple). Dinner of course has Ugali, some form of protein (beef, lamb, or chicken) and fruit as desert.
RF: What is the goal race or races this spring/summer?
I’m going to run Rotterdam on April 15th, and don’t really have anything set in stone after that. I will most likely do a fitness race during my first few weeks back to the U.S. to see what is left to be done to prepare for Rotterdam. I’d like to do some road races this summer, since I feel like I missed out on a lot of fun races last summer studying for the bar.
RF: When do you return home?
I head back to Tennessee on March 4th, so I still have a few weeks left here to get in some awesome training.