Just days after Ottawa Race Weekend, I had the pleasure of catching up with one of the fastest married couples around—Wesley and Tarah Korir. Wesley is a two-time L.A. Marathon Champion and Tarah is one of Canada’s top middle distance runners. Wesley and Tarah describe what it’s like to be a professional runner with a newborn, and share their Ottawa Race Weekend experiences with us. Read to the end to learn more about how the Korir’s are giving back through their newly founded Kenyan Kids Foundation. Also, learn about their partnership with The Hall Steps Foundation (founded by Ryan & Sara Hall) to build a hospital in the village where Wesley was raised.
The Korir Family Story
Tarah (formerly McKay) and Wesley Korir met in 2006 while running for the University of Louisville and were married during Tarah’s senior year in 2010. Last September the couple gave birth to their beautiful daughter McKayla.
Tarah (formerly McKay) was raised in St. Clements, Ontario, and like many talented high school athletes from the north, headed to the US to try her luck in the NCAA. Tarah specialized in the middle distances at Louisville and holds school records in the indoor mile (4:40), and the outdoor 1500m (4:19) and 800m (2:09).
Wesley is a native of Eldoret, Kenya, and like Tarah crossed borders to race in the NCAA and receive a quality education. Wesley began his American education and training at Murray State before transferring to Louisville. At Louisville, Wesley specialized in the long distances and holds school records in the indoor 5,000m (13:52), and the outdoor 1500m (3:45), 3000m (8:13), and 5000m (13:40).
Running with a Baby
Tarah discusses life after the birth of their daughter McKayla….
“McKayla was born on Sept. 6, 2010. Since then we have been travelling around a lot between Louisville, Kenya, and Canada. We spent Christmas in Kenya. I started back running slowly about 6 weeks after giving birth. Being able to get back into shape in Kenya was nice because it was easier to be motivated with warm weather. I would run with some of the girls when they were doing their 40-minute easy runs and to show me around but was mostly just building mileage on my own. I wouldn’t have planned to run at altitude so soon after McKayla was born because it was hard enough coming back with that much time off, but it worked out best for Wesley’s training and we were able to avoid some of the Canadian weather. It was also nice to be able to do the first part of getting back into running shape on my own where I wasn’t comparing my fitness to anyone I was used to running with. We stayed with Wesley’s family over Christmas so they were able to meet McKayla.
This 2011 we have spent partly in Louisville, KY and partly where I grew up in Canada. It was nice to do some tempos and longer intervals back in Louisville. Since being back in Canada I have been training with the Tri City Track Club and my high school coach Pete Grinbergs. It has been the perfect atmosphere to get some interval training in and have people to push me.”
“Wesley and I sometimes go for a run together – that is if he is wanting to recover and I want someone to push me. McKayla even came with us both once in our baby jogger. My daily routine has definitely changed a lot since college.“
After Birth Challenges
“One of the bigger challenges is getting enough sleep. It can be hard to do a workout after being woken up numerous times during the night. I definitely feel like I am lucky to have Wesley at home during the day so I can have the time I need to go do a workout. There is definitely a bit of an adjustment since we have to work around each others schedules, so someone is always around to watch McKayla. My parents have also helped out a lot if we want to go for a run together.”
The Korir’s Go Head to Head at Ottawa Race Weekend
Days before the Korir’s were scheduled to compete in the 10K, Wesley’s facebook status noted that the upcoming weekend would be “a race of the Korir’s”. Let me explain—the elite women were given a 4-minute head start over the elite men and a prize bonus of $4,000 was given to the first athlete (Dire Tune, ETH) to cross the finish line. So technically, Tarah and Wesley were going head to head for the first time ever.
Wesley won “the race” this time, passing Tarah around the 7km marker. Tarah said Wesley gave her “a bit of encouragement”. Wesley said “I told her she was doing great and go get them. I was very excited to see how well she was doing. I was also waiting at the finish line to see her sprint home past the Kenyan lady and I was so excited.”
Tarah explains how her race unfolded…
“I went out somewhat conservative because I was well aware of the talent of the other runners and still do not really know how to pace a 10k since it is only my third one; however, I still wanted to be competitive. I tried not to get too into the race mentally for the first half. About halfway through I thought it was going to be a long race but the crowd really helped to pull me along…Megan [Brown] was about 20 meters ahead of me for most of the race and then around 8k I’m not exactly sure what happened but she stepped off the course and sort of collapsed. I hope she is ok.”
Wesley explains how his race unfolded…
“The race started out really fast. We went out the first km at world record pace and at that moment I realized that I wasn’t ready for that pace so I eased up and Merga and one of the Moroccan guys took off. I just kept an even pace and caught up with the Moroccan guy. I felt at some point that I was catching up with Merga because I could see him just in front of me and that kept me going. I went through the 5k point at 14:00 and from there I decided to cruise in and enjoy the atmosphere of the spectators until the final sprint at the finish which was very fun because the crowd was so loud and I felt like I was flying.”
Where Will We Find Wesley Next?
“I plan to run a fall marathon. I am not sure which one yet. I am going to run the Peachtree 10k on July 4th in Atlanta and then maybe head to Flagstaff for some altitude training before the fall marathon.”
Where Will We Find Tarah Next?
“I am hoping to run my next race on the track. I have enjoyed running some 5k and 10k road races this spring but would like to get back on the track later this summer for some 5000ms and 1500ms. “
“Kenyan Kids Foundation“- Founded by Wesley & Tarah
Wesley and Tarah are well aware of the opportunities running has blessed them with; moreover, they recognize they are in a position to have a major impact on the lives of others–and are doing something about it!
Tarah and Wesley describe the foundation they started called the Kenyan Kids Foundation…
“The Kenyan Kids Foundation focuses on providing high school education for bright, yet poor students in Kenya. Wesley would not have had the chance to come to America to study if it wasn’t for a priest from Ireland who supported him through high school, so he wants to give other children the same opportunity. We are currently supporting 7 kids at a cost of $350 a year, per student, and hope to grow as a foundation.
The Kenyan Kids Foundation website can be accessed, but keep in mind it is under construction and will be launched in full capacity soon.
TO DONATE TO THE KENYAN KIDS FOUNDATION:
Mail Donations to:
Kenyan Kids Foundation,
9812 Shelbyville Road, Suite #1,
Louisville, KY, 40223
Make checks payable to “Kenyan Kids Foundation”