So it was no surprise to defending N

  • NEW YORK -- The distance running calendar rolls on, the winners names change, but the countries of origin do not. Discount Jazz Jerseys . So it was no surprise to defending New York Marathon champion Stanley Biwott at his return press conference Friday when one of the first questions posed to him was a familiar one: What makes Kenyan and East African runners so utterly dominant in the distance events? Its the same query the sports and science community have been trying to figure out for years, and the same question that drew identical twins Zane and Jake Robertson to move from small-town New Zealand to Iten, the self-described home of champions, a decade ago to find out.The Robertson twins had little money, precious few connections, but an unshakeable belief even then, at the age of 17, that if they immersed themselves in the famous East African running culture and applied themselves, they could be as great as the Kenyans or Ethiopians someday.They turned down athletic scholarships in the United States. They bucked advice of family and friends, educators and coaches who dismissed them as delusional and arrogant, or even derided them as misfits. Upon arriving in Nairobi, Kenya, they relied on strangers to direct them to the right place. Their first home was a simple mud and wood frame hut that Dennis Kinara, a former runner, was kind enough to offer them. They had to ration money so tightly at the start, for the first month they ate mostly bread and jam.From Competitor.com: Celebs who are running in Big AppleFrom Competitor.com: Diane Nukuri ready to mix it up in NYCFrom Competitor.com: What you need to know about the NYC MarathonPeople thought we were crazy, Zane said this week in a telephone interview from just outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he has moved to from Kenya to train. But once you say What if it doesnt work out? youre already a loser ... What we were interested in was creating something a lot of people dont get. By being here, we believe there are so many advantages that are gained. And it doesnt take a short time. People come here for a month or two months or three months to get their [red] blood cell counts up or be at altitude or do volume training. But its still not possible to gain everything we can gain from living here.Though some other Westerners have followed the Robertsons footsteps and since moved to Kenyas or Ethiopias running hotbeds, the twins were the first. When they arrived in Nairobi, they had to ask for help on how to make the eight-hour bus ride to the running groups they landed with. Zane later survived a near-deadly bout of malaria, and they both escaped the street violence that claimed more than 1,500 lives after the 2007 Kenyan presidential elections, thanks to being tipped off by friends that a mob was headed toward their neighborhood in Iten. Zane says they hid in maize bush for a few days. Our backup plan was if the violence didnt stop and we ran out of food, wed start running to Uganda, Zane explains.Nowadays, Zane doesnt begin training in the hills of Sululta outside Addis Ababa earlier than 6 a.m. because, The hyenas are quite present in the forest. But once its light, its OK. Theyre not hunting me. Theyre going home. But I still wouldnt want to run into a pack of them.Robertson now trains with a group of runners that includes their Ethiopian friend Aselefech Mergia, a contender Sunday in the New York Marathons womens race. The mention of the Robertson twins names brings a smile to her face and that of Kenyan hopeful Lucas Rotich, who will try to dethrone Biwott here and has trained with Jake and Zane in the past.Theyve not only lived in Kenya, Rotich says of the Robertsons, you could say Kenya became their home.Along the way, Zane and his brother have developed a rare insider/outsider perspective into how to combat the daunting statistics that every distance runner who is not from East Africa is confronted with.Among men, athletes of African ancestry hold every major running record from the 1,500 meters to the marathon, and sweeps of all three spots on the medal podiums are commonplace. Biwott led a Kenyan 1-2-3 finish in the New York marathon last year.Through the end of the Rio Olympic Games in August, where Kenyas Eliud Kipchoge won the mens marathon, eight of the top 10 all-time marathon times were run by Kenyans, and the other two belonged to Ethiopians. Of the top 125 mens marathon times ever run, 124 were run by East and North Africans.The same trend has emerged on the womens side of the sport despite the huge hurdles women athletes in Africa still face. Kenyas Jemima Sumgong outran Eunice Kirwa of Bahrain and Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia in Rio to become Ethiopias first Olympic female marathon gold medalist. Mary Keitany of Kenya won the New York Marathon last year, leading another African sweep. While its worth noting that Britains Paula Radcliffes world record of 2:15.25 has stood 13 years, 18 of the top 30 womens marathon times ever belong to Kenyan or Ethiopian women, including every top 30 mark set in the last nine years.Mergia says barriers to African women are rapidly falling because, People back home have started to understand a woman can do anything that a man can.But can a non-African hope to match the times Africans have run? And what magic combination of -- well, what? -- genetics plus self-belief plus training in the same 7,000- or 8,000-foot altitudes and culture and climate explains it?There are also questions whether Kenya and Ethiopias running successes, in particular, come honestly. Despite the Kenyas promises to institute better drug testing -- 40 Kenyan athletes have been banned since 2011 -- a continuing string of corruption scandals prompted dozens of fed-up Kenyan athletes to storm the Athletics Kenya offices in Nairobi in November 2015, demanding top officials resign amid allegations of mismanagement, bribe-taking and attempts to circumvent doping controls. Other athletes have simply left and decided to run for other countries.Kenyan officials missed two more deadlines before finally instituting new, stricter anti-doping rules in June in line with World Anti-Doping Agency directives. That narrowly quashed talk Kenya might be banned from the Rio Games before controversy struck again at the Olympics. Ethiopian officials have come under rightful scrutiny, as well.Robertson was among those openly critical of the lag, complaining to reporters, How many chances do they get?We normally train clean, Kenyas Rotich insisted Friday. We encourage people to run clean.Zane is on record as saying he never saw firsthand doping himself. He also says he and his brother know scientists have batted around plenty of ideas about whether there are genetic predispositions that have given African-born athletes an edge. Or that if you take that edge and combine it with rigorous training, it can be honed into the margins that separate also-rans from champions.But, Zane quickly adds, it does the twins no good to buy into theories that argue the African climate and altitude of the Great Rift Valley, where dozens of medalists and world champions have come from, conspired to encourage the development of certain body types over hundreds of years that are unusually well-suited to running. (There are plenty of physiological studies that pinpoint some of the specifics.)Whats more likely is something Jon Etine, the author of the provocative, best-selling book Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are Afraid to Talk About It, argues in articles like this one. He maintains that while evolution has undeniably shaped significant physical and physiological differences among different populations around the world, individual success is about coaching, training and dedication. ... Running success is both in the genes and linked to training and coaching, which can lead to a genetic and cultural feedback loop.Etine believes that feedback loop helps describe the dominance of everything from Jamaicas strength in sprinting to Kenyas rule in distance running to Dominicans success in baseball.Rotich and Robertston agree. Both men independently insist there is no secret that explains African dominance in distance events.Both argue that training in a group where world record-holders and champions are the benchmark of expectations is important. So are things like the tempo of stride you gain, the rhythm of accepting each additional step will not just take you further down the road, but require you to stoically endure pain. As Rotich says, We just tell each other, I must fight. I must fight. I must fight.Zane, laughing a little now, says it also helped he and his brother have always been intensely driven and stubbornly sure of their running prospects even before they had the results to prove it, same as many of the African runners.As he puts it, Mentally, the Africans are so, you could say, delusional. But it might be a really good thing. I mean, youll always see Africans in the lead group at a race, and maybe they dont belong there. Theyll blow up. But they truly believe today or tomorrow, they will win. Its a complete self-belief in themselves. And I believe that too. The body follows the mind.Beyond that? Rotich believes that East Africas running success is also explained by a willingness to accept that day-to-day hardships are inextricably wound into both distance running and life. The Robertsons havent just immersed themselves in training since arriving at the Nairobi Airport 10 years ago, knowing no one, only relying on an assurance from some Kenyans Jake roomed with at a youth meet in Japan that if they came, they would be welcomed. Theyve lived the same life as the locals and enjoyed few creature comforts since, often by choice.Rotich says, A lot of people didnt think Jake and Zane would stay because they were white guys who came from a different place. When you grow up in Kenya as a kid, you are just used to things. You may have no shoes. You may go a week without being able to take a shower. You may have nothing to eat from the time you leave for school in the morning until you get home in the evening. There is much poverty. Corruption. I used to run 12-to-15K a day back and forth to school, and if you are late, you get caned.Well, that alone will teach you to run fast, Rotich is told.Oh yes, he nods with a laugh. But everything is like that. When you wake up in the morning in Kenya, you are trying to survive till tomorrow.The Robertson twins were no different. A decade into the twins stay, Jakes progress has been interrupted recently by injuries. But over the past 18 months, Zane has strung together some resounding results.Running the first half marathon of his career last year in Japan, Robertson led at Marugame with 20 meters to go before getting clipped at the wire by Kenyas Paul Kuira. But his time of 59 minutes, 47 seconds made him only the fourth non-African runner in history to run the distance in under one hour. At Rio Olympics in August, Robertson finished 12th in the star-studded mens 10,000-meter race despite missing weeks of training before the Games with a time of 27:33.67, breaking Dick Quaxs 39-year-old New Zealand national record by more than 8 seconds. Then, just last month in Berlin, Robertson won a 10,000-meter race in 27 minutes, 28 seconds, the fastest time by a non-African.Robertson says he and his brother couldnt have done it without the help of each other and the Africans they have met along the way, some of whom he considers as close as brothers. Though at first, I had to earn their respect.His goals for 2017 now include a possible assault on the world record at 15,000 meters and making his debut in a marathon -- perhaps New York, where he ran a road race earlier this year.Like many of his African training partners, Robertson is one of those overnight successes thats been a decade in the making. He has come to believe something preached by Brother Colm OConnell, one of his first coaches in Kenya. OConnell is an Irishman who has lived in Africa for more than 40 years, coached at St. Patricks High School in Iten, and worked with many champions, including David Rodisha.His theory, Zane says, is that you adapt to your surroundings. He believes thats what me and Jake have done. It took many years. But were proof that its not just Africans that can run. Its how you live your life and how you apply yourself to your surroundings. Our training doesnt just fit around the rest of our life. Our live fits around training.Laughing again, Robertson admits there are still people who think he and his brother are nuts for moving to Africa to see what Africa might teach them.And so what?Look at us now, he says. Youth Jazz Jerseys .5 million, one-year contract on Friday. 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He never played for the Sooners, practicing for them but not suiting up in the year after he was dismissed from Missouri.?At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Green-Beckham can be a difficult target to defend. He caught 32 passes for 549 yards as a rookie with four touchdowns. But in his second training camp this summer, he was maddeningly inconsistent with the Titans.Obviously hes made mistakes, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. Hes a kindhearted kid, and he has the right intentions. And that if you get a chance to really spend some time with him, youll see that. Hes not a locker-room cancer at all.He comes in with an opportunity. No promises have been made. We felt comfortable to bring him in here to compete. Hes physically gifted. Hes 6-5, hes 240, he runs a 4.4. Hes got a rare skill set. Now, theres a reason that hes available at this time. Hes got to get more consistent. But for us and where we are in development, we thoughtt it was a risk worth taking. Womens Jazz Jerseys. The Eagles best receiver, Jordan Matthews, is injured. They signed former Giants second-round pick Rueben Randle in the offseason to add depth and also have 2015 first-round pick Nelson Agholor and 2014 third-round pick Josh Huff.In addition to signing?Andre Johnson?at the start of camp,?the Titans added two receivers -- Miami free agent Rishard Matthews and fifth-round pick Tajae Sharpe?-- under new general manager Jon Robinson.They are precise route runners who rarely drop passes, a stark contrast to what they saw from Green-Beckham.Green-Beckham is raw, but the Eagles clearly think he was worth the trade and will work to develop him in a way the Titans couldnt.They thought it was a good opportunity for [Green-Beckham], and we thought adding Dennis would be good for our football team, Robinson said. We are moving on. I appreciate everything Dorial did when he was here. He bought in to what we were trying to do. 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