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Posted: April 5, 2007

Athletics: Elite Runners, Dignitaries Gather to Honor Kip Keino

Ithaca, N.Y., —Olympians Carrie Tollefson and Anthony Famiglietti are among the celebrities gathering in Ithaca, May 11-13, to support the legacy of Dr. Kipchoge “Kip” Keino, the legendary father of Kenyan distance running.

Keino, 68, is the featured guest at the Kip Keino Weekend, a running and wellness event that honors Keino’s accomplishments as an athlete and an unsung humanitarian. Hundreds of elite, masters and citizen runners are expected to attend the weekend’s USATF-sanctioned races and associated activities. The event also marks the creation of the Kip Keino Foundation (USA), a non-profit organization established to promote and encourage Keino’s work in his native Kenya.

“Kip Keino is a legend among runners, but few people know of his tireless efforts to improve lives in his home country,” said Dr. Michelle Thompson, co-director of the Kip Keino Foundation. “He avoided publicity and instead devoted himself to quiet humanitarian service. With this event and the foundation, we honor his example and will continue his legacy.”

Invited guests include New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, an avid runner, and other elected officials. Olympic gold medalist Peter Rono, now a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador at Large, is confirmed for the event, along with Olympians Famiglietti and Tollefson.

“Kip Keino is a legend, and an inspiration to me personally,” Tollefson said. “I’m happy to support his work and thrilled to be part of this event.”

Keino electrified the world with his performances in the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympics. He cemented his place in sports history in the ’68 games, where he dominated world record holder Jim Ryun in one of the most impressive 1,500-meter races in Olympic history.

In the years following his competitive career, Keino moved from the limelight to focus on humanitarian work and youth development in Kenya. The Kip Keino (elementary) School caters to the health and educational needs of orphan and local children. A soon-completed high school is supported through Keino’s 500-acre organic farm. The Kip Keino High Performance Training Centre supports Kenyan runners and provides scholarships to promising young athletes who might otherwise never have the opportunity for elite training.

Kip Keino Weekend events include the BorgWarner Health & Fitness Expo, May 12, featuring hands-on programs in fitness, well-being and personal training. The “Kip & Friends” evening banquet celebrates Keino’s life and work. The weekend culminates, May 13, in elite, masters, citizens and corporate mile races. Keino will be on hand throughout to meet fans, discuss his work and offer personal encouragement.

Keino’s connection to Ithaca began three years ago through personal contacts with Cornell University employees. This December, following a formal visit to Cornell’s Ithaca campus, community organizers were so captivated by Keino’s humanitarian message, they volunteered to launch the foundation and Keino Weekend effort.

“Dr. Keino has a remarkable philosophy of life: ‘You come with nothing, you leave with nothing,’” Thompson said. “His spirit and enthusiasm sparked our imagination and galvanized us into action. We want the world to know of his story and embrace his work. He sets an example we can all aspire to.”

For Kip Keino Weekend details visit www.kipkeinotraining.org/race. For race registration, event tickets or donations contact: raceinfo@kipfound.org.


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