For athletes, running is their office and just like any other profession, this is how they put food on the table and a roof over their heads. All year-round they spend a considerable amount of time training and competing, It's a busy schedule that keeps them busy throughout the year.
When covid-19 wreck havoc at the beginning of the year, it caused tremendous suffering to most of the athletes. Airlines were grounded, races were canceled and camps were closed. It was devastating. However, some athletes were lucky to have alternative ways of earning an income, thanks to disciplined forces like Kenya prison service, Kenya defense forces and Kenya police service. It acted as a cushion to the pandemic.
It's worth noting also that Professional athletes who were affected by the pandemic were also considered by the World Athletics body to receive a stipend so that they can maintain smooth preparation for the championship. Upcoming and average performing athletes were adversely affected. Others for instance were forced to do manual jobs to make ends meet while others were lucky enough to get donations and assistance from well-wishers. Sadly others stopped training completely due to lack of support.
Eliud Kipchoge foundation played a critical role in donating food to athletes, thanks to his philanthropy. Iten-based John Lotiang won the hearts of many after giving his seven rental units for free to vulnerable athletes. When it became apparent that there will be no races, most of the athletes had to change their program to adapt to the rising situations occasioned by the pandemic.
Kenya-born American Aliphine Tuliamuk and her husband Tim for example were planning to have a child after the 2020 summer Olympics. Tuliamuk was to represent the US team in the Tokyo Olympics. Their plans were thwarted, Olympics was postponed to 2021. Eventually, they decided to have a child sooner than expected. They couldn't watch as the year elapsed without racing and without a child.
But for Barcelona-based Samuel Kibiwott, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise. He resorted to do farming which went on successfully. It was not a bed of roses though, he had to uproot eucalyptus trees in his small farm to pave way for horticulture farming. "As a breadwinner in my family I had to do something to make sure that life goes on despite the pandemic," he said. "I had to leave training camp so that I can have the opportunity to juggle between running and farming at home," he added. Fortunately, he received the money from the races he had competed in, it boosted the chances of conceptualizing his dream in farming.
He used the money to set up greenhouses on his farm, good enough he had experience in managing his new project. Before venturing into athletics he was working as a farmhand in greenhouse farming in Eldoret. It has been an arduous journey for Mosoriot based runner, but today he is smiling all the way to the bank challenges notwithstanding. He cited diseases as the major impediment to farming since pesticides are constantly required which in turn increases the coast of production.
Amid the start of races in Kenya Kibiwott is keen to make an impact again, he has been doing farming and athletics con-currently. Kibiwott has been excelling in local races. In 2013, he was fifth in the Kericho tea marathon.
He is also the winner of the Tuen Mun half marathon in Hongkong, a runner -up at the Kinmen marathon in Taiwan in 2018. Other races that he has performed immensely well includes 15km in Valencia and Albacete half marathon in Spain.