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Hellen Obiri: Kenyan Runner Speaks On Decision To Relocate To The US With Her Family

Kenyan long-distance runner, Hellen Obiri has discussed her decision to move to the United States of America (USA).

Obiri, her husband Tom Nyaundi and their daughter, Tania Macheche live in Boulder, Colorado.

According to New York Times, the runner relocated to the US months to her marathon debut in New York in November 2022.

The relocation also followed her decision to quit track running to target the marathon.

During the just concluded Boston Marathon where Obiri emerged victorious, her husband and daughter were among those who turned up to cheer her.

The two were at the race’s finish line and embraced the long-distance runner as soon as she crossed the winner’s tape.

“That was one good moment for me, at the finish line seeing my daughter. I cannot even explain what I felt,” Obiri said in an interview with BBC Africa.

On her relocation to the US, Obiri also mentioned that she needed to be close to her coach to monitor her progress.

“When switching to the road, I felt I needed a coach on the ground with me in training. On track you can train without a coach present and do well, but with the marathon sometimes you need a coach to watch what you are doing,” she said.

At the US, she joined her coach, retired American athlete Dathan Ritzenhein.

All this time, her husband and daughter were back in Kenya awaiting their visas.

“It was a challenge because you don’t have a family in the US. Sometimes the time difference (for) calling is not good. Maybe when you call the child is sleeping

“The most important thing is the family understands what you are going there to do, because it’s a short career. The family give me a lot of time, support and a lot of encouragement,” Obiri said.

Obiri noted that her separation from her family led her to question her decision to relocate to the US.

“Tania was always telling me ‘Mommy, I want you to come now’. When she tells you, you feel like crying, you feel you don’t have morale. Why am I here and my baby’s crying there?” She stated.

Despite finishing sixth in her debut marathon, she dusted herself and emerged winner in her second marathon in Boston.

“You don’t need to think about anything else. You are thinking about your family and the race and when your family is there to watch you, they give you a lot of encouragement,” she said.

Nyaundi has enrolled as a student while their daughter is also in school.

“The first week was terrible for her because she didn’t have friends here, it’s a new environment,” she said, fretting as any mother would

“But Tania is so friendly. So after one week and a half, she was coming and telling mum ‘I have some friends, this one and this one’,” she said.

The athlete is the only woman to have won world titles in indoor track, outdoor track and cross country.

Obiri is a two-time Olympic 5000 metres silver medallist from the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where she also placed fourth over the 10,000 metres.

She is a two-time world champion after winning the 5000 m in 2017 and again in 2019, when she set a new championship record.

The mother of one also took world bronze for the 1500 metres in 2013 and silver in the 10,000 m in 2022.

She won the 3000 metres race at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, claimed silver in 2014, and placed fourth in 2018. She is the 2019 World Cross Country champion.

Obiri triumphed in the 2023 Boston Marathon, her second marathon race. She places fifth in the half marathon on the world all-time list.