In slew of making it out to Boston many multiple times in May of last year, I had many different incidents with the various ways I have transported myself to and from, most of all the very bus incidents that I have endured.
Well the reason of going to Boston this time around? Well certainly to visit my friend, AD (whom many of you guys had met and I talk about frequently because she is very much part of my life in running) but, yes I had missed her party in Boston the weekend that my grandfather had passed away and this was to chill and enjoy.
Another reason was to visit my Alzheimer’s team in Boston. Every weekend they have a group run which I had adamantly heard about last year though all of their e-mails. The group was a great group to know and even though I was only there for a small amount of time with them and at the Boston Marathon, I have felt that I knew these people forever. We all shared something in common…that is two things: Running and the pursuit of finding a cure for the Alzheimer’s disease. I am again running for this organization in the Boston Marathon this year and hope to bring a team to the New York City marathon, as we had applied for an application…hopefully the third time is the charm. The connections you have and the people you become so closely tied as each of our families are stricken by this disease is one of the things I adamantly will never give up.
Another reason is just to get away…time to just relax and get away from all that is left in NYC. This has been my third week off on Friday, so I had decided to travel during the day. We got stuck in traffic, hope to meet up with a bunch of old high school and college friends and laugh, be carefree and enjoy what life has to offer.
A Moving 40th Birthday Gift Michael Chambers, left, received a morning run with the world-class Kenyan racer Richard Kiplagat for his 40th birthday on Thursday.
By JOHN BRANCH
Published: December 11, 2008
For an avid runner, perhaps a synthetic running shirt would be a welcome gift. Maybe a heart-rate monitor, or an iPod.
But for a truly one-of-a-kind gift, nothing could beat what Michael Chambers received for his 40th birthday on Thursday: a world-class runner from Kenya for a day.
“What a birthday present,” a stunned Chambers said as Richard Kiplagat, 27, entered his SoHo apartment, ready to run.
It was like a take-home fantasy camp, akin to hiring a Brazilian soccer star to kick the ball around in the backyard, or a Chinese table-tennis champion to play a few games in the basement.
Kiplagat was paid $400 to run with Chambers and have lunch with his family. A driver in a Lincoln Town Car picked him up at dawn at his home in New Milford, N.J., and returned him late in the afternoon.
“When it comes to running, I’m always ready to do it,” said Kiplagat, wearing New Balance clothes and shoes and an effervescent smile that seemingly comes without a dim switch.
He admitted to being surprised when his manager called last week, saying an odd request had been made through the New York Road Runners: someone wanted to hire a Kenyan runner. Kiplagat, a former 10-time All-American distance runner at Iona who is now one of the top road racers in the world, splits time between the United States and his home in Marakwet, Kenya. He did not hesitate to say yes.
“I said, ‘Wow, it’s unusual to do something like this,’ ” Kiplagat said. “Especially for a Kenyan.”
It is unusual for anyone, even a wealthy New Yorker. Chambers runs about 40 or 50 miles each week and has completed three marathons, including the New York City Marathon last month. He finished in 4 hours 8 minutes after reaching the 20-mile mark in three hours.
“The last six miles were just awful,” Chambers said.
About 8:30 a.m. Thursday, he was about to embark on his daily run when his wife, Tina, stopped him. She wanted to present a birthday gift from her and Michael’s parents, Ray and Patricia Chambers. They attended lunch with Kiplagat later in the day.
Ray Chambers is a former part-owner of the Nets, the Devils and the Yankees, and a long-time philanthropist. He now serves as a United Nations envoy for the fight against malaria.
Michael Chambers, an investor in various Web and media companies, and his wife have made a habit of inventive, if expensive, gift-giving. The two took a trip to Africa in 2000. A couple of years later, he had a wing of a school built in her name in Tanzania. Last year, he adopted an elephant in her name through a wildlife federation.
Chambers had become enamored with the strength of the Kenyan runners, and the stories of poverty and perseverance behind them. He recently read Toby Tanser’s book “More Fire: How to Run the Kenyan Way.”
Tina Chambers presented her husband a DVD of “Marathon Man,” the 1976 movie starring Dustin Hoffman; a compass; and an atlas marked to the page for Kenya. And there was a folder. The front page read: “Happy birthday, baby. Let’s go to Kenya and run with the Kenyans.”
The folder included information about a training center in Iten, Kenya, run by Lornah Kiplagat — a world-record holder in several distances, and Kiplagat’s older sister. A trip to the center in February is the main part of the birthday present.
But the family wanted to give Chambers something to experience on his actual birthday. A call was placed to the New York Road Runners about two weeks ago. The request was a first, and it was specific.
“No knock on Ethiopians, who have been amazing,” Tina Chambers said. “But to find Richard, it couldn’t get better.”
Sam Grotewold, manager of professional athletes for the Road Runners, made the connection with Kiplagat’s manager. Kiplagat was game. Not having a precedent for such a gift, they decided on the rather arbitrary figure of $400. The Chambers family said yes.
When the surprise was revealed, Kipligat and Chambers posed for pictures — Tina had hired a photographer — and stepped out into the cold drizzle on Greene Street. They walked up to Prince Street and jogged west. Side by side, talking mostly about the differences between life in the United States and life in Kenya, they ran north through Hudson River Park, turning back after a few miles.
They ran eight miles, at a sturdy 7-minute-per-mile pace. It was quick for Chambers, but Kiplagat usually trains by running 10 or more miles at a 5:45-per-mile pace.
“We’re back,” Chambers said as the two entered the apartment again. “I won.”
Chambers was drenched in rain and sweat. Kiplagat looked as if he had done little more than climb a flight of stairs.
“I was pushing him a little bit,” Kiplagat said. “I wanted to see how fast he was. I was listening to his breathing. He was not breathing as hard as I thought. He looked very strong.”
Chambers noted just how quietly Kiplagat moves. His breath and his footsteps never got heavy, he said.
“It’s literally like running next to a cheetah,” Chambers aid.
The conversation in the apartment turned to Kenya and Kiplagat’s childhood, which involved running five miles to and from school in bare feet. With Michael and Tina Chambers in another room preparing to go to lunch, Kiplagat ran his bare toes through a lush shag rug.
“Wow,” he said. “It’s the American dream.”