The modest life
of a champion
JIMMY Muindi, who just won the Honolulu Marathon, is a wealthy man back home in Kenya.
That means he can afford the big rain barrels in order to catch his household's water supply.
Muindi's agent, Zane Branson, grew up in Virginia. He spent much of his adulthood in England. Today he lives in Serbia. He's seen the world.
Kenya blows his mind.
They have outdoor kitchens, where they still cook with wood. Outdoor toilets. Branson estimates that 86 percent of the country is without electricity and only 7 percent of it has running water.
Jimmy Muindi, champion pro athlete, uses a gas-powered generator and barrels to catch the rain.
(Right now there are people on the Big Island saying, "So?")
That's life, in Kenya.
That's not to say Muindi doesn't have it good. He has a nice house. He has a car and a truck. He has businesses and a farm. He takes care of family and gives to his church and donates money so kids can have clothes to go to school. He tries to create as many jobs as he can.
"There is a lot of desperation and poverty," Branson says. Muindi knows firsthand how impossible it is to try to personally solve it all. "The stream is endless, of course," Branson says.
Muindi and Mbarak Hussein and others take back bags of wares given to them by the Honolulu Marathon each year, after they run here.
You'll see Kenyan farmers herding cattle while wearing Honolulu Marathon T-shirts.
But after every paycheck, every win, Muindi always comes back to Africa. After every trip on an airplane, every stay in a luxury hotel -- this year it was the Outrigger Reef -- he is back in Kenya to live.
"He's traveled all over the world. Extensively," Branson says. "He's been on all the continents."
He always comes home to the house without running water.
Branson calls it -- with admiration -- an 1870s existence.
Muindi calls it home.
It helps explain why his country has become the cradle of marathoners.
"All Kenyans that I know are relaxed and easy to work with. Very easygoing," Branson says. "It's hard to upset them.
"Africa is ... they depend on real things. The rain. Because that's where their water comes from, off the roof and into the barrel."
"I was really impressed," Branson says, "with the way he conducts himself at home."
He's a champion here. A champion there, too.
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