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Fast Forward: The rise of Kenya's women runners

A guide to the series

Sunday, May 05, 2002


enyan men have dominated long-distance running for more than 30 years. Kenyan women are just coming into their own. In this five-part series, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Lori Shontz and Martha Rial explore how Kenyan women are beginning to win fame and prize money -- and to show how sports can lift up women, families and nations in the developing world.

The Series

Lornah Kiplagat sprints during a workout on the dirt track at Kamariny Stadium in Iten, Kenya. Lornah has used her racing winnings to help young women follow in her footsteps or advance in other fields. Women who make it to the running elite can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars. The annual per capita income in Kenya is $360. (Martha Rial, Post-Gazette)

Photo journal

Map of Kenya

Kenya statistics

Day One:
The rise of Kenya's women runners

In audio interview clips accompanying her report, Lori Shontz talks about why Kenyan women run, the genesis of the series and profound cultural differences.

Day Two:
The pioneers who led the way

Lori talks about what it takes for Kenyan women to break with traditions and how training changes their lives.

Day Three:
Crazy Catherine, on top of the world

Lori talks about the hospitality of runner Catherine Ndereba and her husband.

Day Four:
Lornah and her camp for girls

Lori talks about the different styles of successful Kenyan women runners and what it's like to stay at a running training camp.

Day Five:
Looking toward a new Kenya

Lori talks about the social and economic benefits women runners bring back to their Kenyan communities and how their story is still unfolding.

An Editorial

Running for their lives / When a Kenyan woman runner wins, all Kenya wins

The Kenya team:

Lori Shontz, 33, a Post-Gazette sportswriter since 1994, has covered everything from Penn State football to the Olympics. Last fall she won a Pew Fellowship in International Journalism and spent 10 weeks in Washington, D.C., studying at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, followed by five weeks in Kenya reporting this project.

Martha Rial, 40, a Post-Gazette staff photographer since 1994, has covered local, state, national and international stories. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for "Trek of Tears," a photo essay on the plight of refugees who fled genocide in Rwanda and Burundi. She returned to the region in 2000 for a follow-up special section called "Journey Home."

The Fast Forward series was edited by International Editor Greg Victor. If you have questions or comments, you can reach him at gvictor@post-gazette.com or by calling 412-263-1570.

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