Keino has been a policeman for 10 years, always at the college in Kiganjo. He said he would remain a policeman. The food is good and there is a pension at age 50. He likes the work, instructing in physical education, and he trains as he pleases. Ordinarily he will run six miles a day. That is short rations by the masochistic standards of American and European distance runners, but it is over hilly terrain, at 5,500 feet, and for him it is enough. He said, however, that he had not really trained well since January. He did not think he was far behind, but he did not think, either, that he was pushing for three events as everybody expected. He said he had tried to run in two—the 5,000 and 1,500—at Tokyo and had become tired, and there were no medals to comfort him.
"My people want me always to run in three events," he said. "I do not think it is so good. I am human. I think it is better to concentrate on one." He had been told by one Nairobi writer that he would be wasting a marvelous chance, because he could be a triple gold-medal winner. Keino replied, "It is easy for you to say, 'Run all three, Kipchoge.' You will sit and write while I run."
Velzian, on the other hand, believes the schedule in Mexico City is made to order for a Keino grand slam. As he sees it, Keino could run the 10,000 meters as a straight training session. He will need one anyway. After a day's rest he could run a trial heat in the 5,000, rest another day, run the 5,000 final and then tackle Ryun at 1,500. As September began, Keino ran a 3:53.3 mile in a meet at 3,700-foot altitude (and pulled 19-year-old Ben Jipcho under 4 minutes). Perhaps Velzian is right.
I invited Keino to join me at the Outspan that night for dinner, but he did not make it and he did not call. Later he explained that he had been detained at the dance for the athletes and their guests in Nyeri. His friend the teacher said the evening was not a total loss. Keino had won second prize in the dance contest.
It required no notes or special envoys to see Temu and Kiprugut and the other Kenyan runners. They came to Nairobi to group at the Highridge Teachers' College for training prior to the trip to Dar es Salaam. In the mornings and afternoons they could be found in the dormitory rooms, and we sat around on the bunks and talked of their dreams.
Temu, now 24, is an army private. He is narrow of shoulder, thinner even than Keino. He talked about how strong Ron Clarke looked in Finland. He wanted to know what had happened to Billy Mills, the American who had won the 10,000 meters at Tokyo. "We do not know where he went," he said. "Where did Billy Mills went? Is he training?" I told him Mills was, indeed, in training but had not been assured a place on the U.S. team. "Everybody must be fit," he said wistfully. "Everybody will be lighting to win. Ron Clarke, he looks very fit."
Wilson Kiprugut came into the room. He said he was trying to find a place to lay his body. He is 28, like Keino, but he has been competing for 12 years and he says he is very tired and will retire from running after the Olympics and concentrate on making sergeant major. "It is very difficult," he said. "It takes much seniority."
Kiprugut has a very soft, expressive voice and, more than all the others, his conversation is easy and expansive. He volunteers information. He is better built than Keino or Temu, strong in the upper torso like the Masai, Rudisha. "I am not so strong now," Kiprugut said. "I am getting older now. I am getting tired. But not so bad, not so bad at all."
Kiprugut is of the Kipsigis tribe. He said it was nine miles to his school as a boy and he had to run it, too, but he did not run it for long. "I complained to my father to buy me a bicycle, and my father bought me a bicycle." When he was young, he said, "I tried to run against big men. I am running in the 440. I come second in our location. Then I go to the district. I come third. They take me to run in the interprovince meeting. I come fourth. So I go back to school again.
"Now I am very keen to train. I go to my teacher and I tell him, 'Sir, please let me do some training for athletics.' I now get to have plenty of practice. I am very keen for the 440 and the 880. I come first in my area. I work very hard, and I think now I am very good indeed, so I try to get some shoes. I am still running barefoot when I join the army in 1959, and the army gives me shoes. Black skin shoes with spikes. I do not like them. In 1960 I do not go anywhere. But in 1961 I start to build up again. In 1962 I am very good indeed. Now, the sports officer he is very keen to help me. He buys me a very good pair of shoes."