Kenya is likely to have world-class runners for a long time, judging by the ambitions of young men like Michael Muturi.

In February, Muturi came in 13th in the Junior National Cross Country Championship in Kenya - running barefoot.

``I had no [running] shoes, he explains. Muturi's father has a tiny, one-hectare (2.47 acres) farm, where he grows corn and coffee beans, and raising cattle. Michael is the eldest of six children. His father has agreed to let him follow his love of running.

Michael now lives just outside of Nairobi with a cousin and runs twice a day. He hopes to start taking a minibus (the fare is 60 cents US, round trip) to a downtown stadium to train under the direction of Ruth Waithera, Olympic finalist in the 400 meters in 1984.

Does he hope to become a champion and win money?

``Maybe it [money] will come, in time, he says, during his second talk with Waithera at the stadium. But even if money doesn't come, Michael says there is something else driving him: "I love winning, very much. Very much. I know there's a chance for me and others who will be like me. There is. Even Ngugi was like me." (Kenyan John Ngugi is a five-time world cross-country champion and Olympic gold medalist in the 5,000 meters in 1988.)

"So why don't I do like him?" Muturi asks. "I must do like him."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.