The sixth running of Run Waterloo’s Harvest Half-Marathon got a shot in the arm on Saturday, with the participation of 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir, who helped re-design the course to make it faster and more competitive.
“It was really fun,” says Korir, whose wife, the runner Tarah Korir, was raised in the southern Ontario city. The couple, along with their two children, McKayla and Jayden, spend their summers in Waterloo and the winter in Kenya, where they run a training camp and their charitable foundation, Kenyan Kids, whose projects include helping young Kenyan runners gain access to education and helping Kenyan dairy farmers get better prices for their milk.
Korir, who attended the University of Louisville on a track scholarship, went on to win the Los Angeles Marathon in both 2009 and 2010 before his Boston victory two years later. He set his personal best of 2:06:15 in Chicago, also in 2012. From 2013 to 2018, Korir served as a Member of Parliament in Kenya. He and Tarah were married in 2010.
“I wanted to design it to have more of a mix of professional and recreational running,” he explains, “people want to get some good times, some PBs, and enjoy the countryside of Waterloo. The goal was to give both categories a chance to achieve a goal, which I think turned out well. I represented the professionals, and a lot of other recreational runners gave very positive feedback on the new course.
It’s all part of Korir’s global vision for running as a way as a force for good in the world, and a way for people to change their lives. (Most of the money raised from the Harvest Half goes to the foundation.) He points out that he and his friend Reid Coolsaet of Hamilton ran almost identical times this weekend (65 minutes)–Korir on the new Harvest Half course he helped design, and Coolsaet at the Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon. “Reid was challenged by the humidity, and I was challenged by the gravel roads,” Korir quips.
Tarah, the 2016 Canadian national marathon champion, also raced in Philadelphia for the first time after having her third child 14 months ago, as a tuneup race for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and the Canadian Marathon Championships (which will double as the Canadian Olympic Trials) on October 20. A 2:35 marathoner, Tarah has been off the radar for the past year or so, but is very much on the comeback trail.
Korir even drew inspiration from Geoffrey Kamworor’s world record in the half-marathon, which also happened this past weekend:
“I know him, I have trained with him, and I knew it was coming,” says Korir. “He works hard, he’s a very disciplined guy, and I was very happy for him. It’s a good indication that (Eliud) Kipchoge is going to do something even greater–they train together. Sports helps people change their lives. When you look at what we’re doing with the Harvest Half, giving people a chance to be able to get healthy and run, but also to have a course that is going to change a lot of lives. It’s not like basketball or football, where the pros are the only ones in the field. You can all participate on the same course… today when Kamworor was breaking the world record, there were a lot of people there, saying I was there when that happened.”