A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet a local Cross Country All-American & Olympic hopeful, Macharia Yuot. But as it turns out, Macharia's running resume pales in comparison to his inspirational life-story. Macharia is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. During the two-decade-long civil war in Sudan, Macharia left his family with thousands of other boys to escape the violence. Their journey took them over 500 miles through Ethiopia into Kenya. This trek was very treacherous and took thousands of lives due to disease, starvation, and thirst.
Many of these survivors made it to a Kenyan refugee camp where they were selected to come to the United States in 2000, during one of the largest US relocation programs in history. Macharia and some other Lost Boys became a part of our community, as they settled into the Philadelphia area. Macharia went to West Catholic High School; did well in Track & Field, and was ultimately recruited to run for Widener University where he became a 6-time NCAA Division III Champion. And a quick side story…the morning after Macharia WON the Division III Cross Country Championship in Ohio…he placed 6th in the Philadelphia Marathon with a time of 2:25:39?! (I rested for 2 days….and was 45 minutes behind him ;-) Macharia’s story was aired on ESPN’s E:60 at the end of October. His story is one of absolute human triumph. His positive attitude and optimism are contagious. Watch his story and you will have a renewed motivation to succeed. It’s stories like his…perseverance, hard work, and a positive attitude…that help us to keep the faith in our goals and in ourselves. It’s about keeping your chin up and striving for a better tomorrow. Macharia’s story epitomizes the human “race”.
On another note, his story brings to light a society that is far less fortunate than what most of us are used to, an African culture called the Dinkas. Macharia and his coach, Vince Touey, have started a charity to help his home village called The Sorghum Fields Project. The proceeds will be used to help the Dinkas in Sudan procure things like medicine & fresh water wells...simple things. If you’re looking for a charity to adopt during this holiday season, please consider The Sorghum Fields Project. It’s a great cause.
Inspirational stories like Macharia’s can often spark a much needed jolt to our own motivation and drive. Fitness is not an individual competition, but rather a joint human venture. Keep your chin up and keep reaching for your goals, and know that there will be ups and downs along the way. As you succeed, you may just inspire those around you and provide that much-needed spark that they need to succeed. Check out the ESPN article and video on Macharia Yuot to learn more about his 'Lost Boy' journey.
You can find this article and other motivational fitness information in the November 2007 article of The Bullhorn. You can sign up for this free monthly e-zine below.