'Drunk' Kenyan Marathoner Who Broke World Record

  • Marathoners and runners are one of Kenya's greatest sources of pride. One such individual is Henry Rono who thrashed several records, putting Kenya on the map.

    According to a post by a renowned historian, Levin Opiyo, Rono once broke a world record after taking a bottle of Whisky.

    "He once split a bottle of whiskey with a friend and then ran a 5000m race in 13min 9 sec," Levin wrote.

    Henry Rono competing in 1978.

    Rono's struggles with alcoholism while at Washington State University in the US was no secret, however, at the time nothing stopped him, he ran like his life depended on it.

    Peka Rhine, his one-time manager also recalled how Rono broke the 1981 record in Narvik, Norway. 

    "On Friday, he ran in Crystal Palace. He had not eaten all day; afterwards he ran straight to the bar drinking until 1 am. On Saturday, he flew to Norway and Sunday he broke the world record," Rhine narrated.

    During his time at the university, Rono broke four world records in a span of 81 days. The 10,000 m (27:22.5), the 5000 metres (13:08.4), the 3000 metres steeplechases (8:05.4), and the 3000 metres (7:32.1); an achievement unparalleled in the history of long-distance running. 

    However, Rono never had the chance to compete at the Olympics, after Kenya boycotted both the 1976 and 1980 games after Soviet's invasion of Afghanistan in 1980.

    In 1984, Rono quit Washington State University to live and train in Eugene, Oregon with other Kenyans.

    Opiyo further disclosed that after his career in athletics, Rono worked as an attendant in a car wash, a baggage handler in Albuquerque, coaching high school children in Reno and selling insurance in Boston.

    The runner returned home on November 21, 2019, after 33 years of being in the diaspora, where he reunited with his family in Nairobi's South C estate.

    Rono returns