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In a league of their own

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Dorcas is 21. She's shy. Her voice has a musical quality about it like a bird's. Her legs are a little knock-kneed like a bird's too. She has won races in India and in Europe.

And as for me, I've run one race – the New York City Marathon. I finished 29,989th, a mere two hours and 30 minutes slower than the second-place finisher, Robert 'Mwafrika' Cheruiyot, who trained on these same hills.

When we started to run, Richard's body caught up with his head and Dorcas was knock-kneed no more. Everything fell into place. Their legs became easy-flowing pistons. The trail seemed to be made of rubber.

"Hmm," I thought, "that's not so fast."

Thirty seconds, and one slight incline (hill would be an overstatement) later, and I'm about to pass out. I make a pact with myself: No matter what happens, I won't walk.

Richard and Dorcas don't look back until I stumble on a rock.

"Sorry," Richard turns to say, as if he is the reason my legs are too heavy to step over small rocks.

We follow one of the many dusty red trails that divide the green world into farmyards with mud huts and fields with cows. We pass group after group of other runners. They swoosh by in their nylon and Nikes, lean limbs covered in spandex, wearing brightly colored jackets, like out-of-place superheroes leaping cow patties in a single bound.

I give a passing runner a high five.

"Do you know who that was?" Richard asks. I don't. "That was Mustafa, the European champion!"

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