Why do people travel to other countries to take part in marathons? If you say the goal is to win money, you’re right. But for James Waliaula, who is the first Kenyan runner to complete all the six World Marathon Majors, marathon running is all about fun and nothing else.
Before reaching that milestone in 2015 which etched his name on the runners’ lists in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York marathons, Waliaula was running just to cut down his weight. By the time he achieved that in 2013, he was already so into running that he couldn’t stop. So, he channeled the obsession into sports tourism.
Out of the marathons he’s taken part in, the 39-year-old achieved his personal best time of two hours, 48 minutes and 9 seconds at 2015 Tokyo Marathon.
The world’s unofficial fastest marathon of two hours and 25 seconds was run by his favourite professional marathon runner, Eliud Kipchoge at Breaking2. And, probably trying to push his luck any further, Waliaula wants to run a marathon in under two hours and 45 minutes – which is still one hell of an ambition.
As a member of the Urban Swaras running club in Nairobi, Waliaula has been in more than 12 countries where he has competed in races.
Although he enjoys running, he admits it’s not easy. He’s quoted by Daily Nation as saying:
“I must admit it can be costly, but the trick is to plan way ahead and start making savings in good time. The trips are always worth every penny!”
By planning his vacations around running events in the world, Waliaula has established himself as the envy of elite runners in Africa. But the story doesn’t end there for him as he’s now set on making history in ultra-marathons around the world.