From sprints to middle and long-distance to marathon events, the art of running is a highly revered form of human expression, with deep roots in human history. Here are five of our favourite runners who have demonstrated great dedication and strength in their love for the sport, deserving of our admiration.
- Catherine Ndereba
Catherine Ndereba (born July 21, 1972) is a Kenyan marathon runner. She is a former World record holder and a top-two finisher in four of the five World Marathon Majors. She was the first woman to run under 2:19 and the first woman to win the Boston Marathon a record four times. She also organises a Half Marathon in her hometown, named after Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi, a freedom fighting hero in Kenya’s struggle for independence.
Having defied the conventions of a male-dominated society, Ndereba’s strength and perseverance no doubt make her deserving not only of her nickname Catherine the Great, but also a spot on our list.
- Yohan Blake
Yohan Blake (born December 26, 1989) is a Jamaican sprinter known by the nickname “The Beast”. Blake is an Olympic Games silver medallist at both the 100m and 200m Olympic gold medallist, world champion and world record holder at the 4x100m. At 19 years and 197 days he was the youngest man to have ever broken the 10-second barrier for 100m. Blake also founded the YB Afraid Foundation in 2011, an organisation that works to address the educational, physical and mental health and social needs of underprivileged youth.
With a fierce fighting spirit and a compassionate heart, Blake is both a beast and a beauty and certainly earns his place on our list.
- Paula Radcliffe
Having suffered from asthma and anemia as a child, Paula Radcliffe (born December 17, 1973) overcame her conditions to set the marathon world record for women at 2:15:25 at the 2003 London Marathon. The English long-distance runner has won medals for the New York, London and Chicago marathons, and is known for being an advocate for anti-doping in athletics, having made several public protests to expose drug cheats. She is also involved in the World Health Organisation’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, and just last month called on schools to do more to tackle obesity.
Despite struggling with achilles and foot injuries, Radcliffe ended her competitive running career last month with the 2015 London Marathon. Her name will go down in track and field history for her still-unbeatable marathon record and never-say-die spirit.
- Michael Johnson
“The Man with the Golden Shoes”, Michael Johnson (born September 13, 1967) is an American track and field athlete who is the only sprinter ever to be ranked No. 1 in the world in the 200 and 400 meters in the same year, which he has achieved four times. He is generally thought to be the greatest all-around sprinter of all time, and is unmistakable on the track with his distinctive running style of a stiff straight back and a short, rapid piston stride.
Aside from that, he is known for being the pioneering track and field multimedia superstar, and has snagged multimillion-dollar-endorsement deals around the world, which was previously unheard of for runners.
- Usain Bolt
With his apt surname, undeniable gift and impressive speed, Bolt strikes us as someone who will go the distance, earning himself the top spot on our list.
The Jamaican sprinter (born August 21, 1986) is arguably the fastest man in the world, winning three gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, and becoming the first man in Olympic history to win both the 100-meter and 200-meter races in record times. Bolt ran the men’s 100-meter race at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London in 9.63 seconds, a new Olympic record, making him the first man in history to set three world records in a single Olympic Games competition. His foundation, the Usain Bolt Foundation, aims to enhance the character of children through educational and cultural development, as they live their dreams.
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