You're above 10,000 feet now, and climbing. Fantastically shaped trees seem like twisted, gesturing spirits. Clouds lie down on the road.
About four o'clock you lurch to a stop at last, before the most beautiful vista of the ordeal: a great, smooth field stretching away to three long buildings, Kibor's primary school. A track is visible on the thick turf. "We cut the lanes," says Kibor proudly, "with pangas."
Beyond, on a dome of green, are the tawny buildings of Kapchebau. The single approach is across a saddle, making the village seem like a medieval fortress. As you reach it, you see that there is nothing beyond but a precipice plunging a mile or more down to the desert floor of the Great Rift Valley.
At once you are surrounded by a dozen weather-burnished people. You have the honor of informing them that their native son made the team. Kibor points out his name in the newspaper account of the trials. The pages are received as if they were illuminated manuscripts.
"We are very happy," says a man. "Now others will come up the way this man has done. He has qualified, you say? We are happy."
From here, you go down on foot, carrying the gifts Kibor has specified: meat, candy and a case of soda. The earth is black mud under the drying maize. You cross a roaring cataract on boulders. "This is where I was running, up this hill to that school," says Kibor. "Jogging, jogging, for eight years."
Even descending you feel dizzy from the altitude. After half a mile you reach a compound of seven huts perched below cypress trees on the lip of the cliff. There, ecstatic in a shiny Christmas dress, is Elizebeth Kokibor, Kibor's grandmother. She hugs you delicately, her eyes tightly shut, and gives you rich, oily tea.
Kibor takes you to a promontory and points out settlements far down at the base of the escarpment. "That is where I was born," he says. "That is where my father and mother are. There are mosquitoes there, malaria, and it's always hot. So when I was small, my parents brought me here, for school and health. I carry stalks of bananas up from my father's. It is a five-hour climb, if you are a good climber."
It was a relative in the valley, he says, who knew that Kibor wanted to run in the Commonwealth Games preliminary trials. "He gave me a goat, and I led it up the mountain to Chesoi [a trek of 15 miles] and sold it there for 150 shillings [about $7], a very low price, because I was in a hurry. Then I took matatus to Kisumu. I hitched some and used the money I saved for food." He still had energy enough to run third, advancing to the Nairobi finals.
Kibor introduces his older brother Yano, and his cousins George, maybe nine, and eight-year-old Salome. His nearest neighbor, Benjamin Yator Kisang, 37, was born right here but has worked in Nairobi. "In advertising and design," he says. "But the city.... Well, I thought I'd better come back to the good life before I get old."