116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
William Kosgei insists that running road races “is about more than winning.”
But that doesn't mean the director of the Duma Runners Club doesn't have his sights set on dominating the Fifth Season Race on Thursday.
“Our main goal is to have finishers one through five,” he said. “This will show the race committee that this race means a lot to us.”
The Duma Runners Club is a Minnesota-based racing team made up of runners from Kenya and Ethiopia. Kosgei, the club's founder, searches those African countries for running talent and brings them to Minnesota, then sends runners across the country to compete in races and win prize money.
But the club, he said, has bigger goals than that.
“I know it's a business,” he said. “But I also thought about it as something being able to bridge the culture between Kenya and the United States in running. Kenya has dominated the sport for decades. In the meantime, I want to help guys from Kenya come here and run."
The elite field at this year's Fourth of July Fifth Season Race will be diluted. The prize money has been cut to just $500 for first place, and a loss of sponsorship means race organizers don't have the budget to pay for racers' stay in Cedar Rapids.
But Duma will return with a group of elite runners, and race director Colin Flynn said he expects they will claim much of the prize money as a team.
The club wasn't dissuaded from running in Cedar Rapids by the relatively low prize money. Flynn said if they come take most of the pot and only pay “for the tank of gas down here,” it still makes sense for Duma to compete. Flynn said most of the money they win goes back to Kenya, and the runners in the club win plenty of it.
“When you have courses where it's an out and back course, it really gives you some perspective,” Flynn said. “When you see the elite pack on their way back, and they're so far ahead of everyone else. You'll see a really good local runner just way behind. It gives you a perspective of just how fast these guys are.”
Richard Kandie, a 28-year old Duma runner, said many members of the team live and train together daily, running about 80 miles every week to prepare for the many road races they compete in.
And Kandie said he likes racing at the event.
“I like the race, the course is beautiful,” he said. “People are cheering the whole way, because you come back almost the same way you go out.”
It also presents another chance for Duma's runners to do their job, and also something they love.
“I love running,” Kandie said. “It has been part of my life since I was young. It keeps your body healthy. I love it.”