The Florida A&M men’s cross-country team moved from No. 12 to No. 9 in the U.S. Track and Field Cross-Country Coaches Association’s South Region on Monday, led by Elias Chesire.
Chesire, who was born and raised in Eldoret, Kenya, became the first Rattler to be named national athlete of the week by the USTFCCCA. He received the honor after his record-breaking performance at the Florida State University Invitational on Oct. 11. Chesire completed the 8,000-meter course in 24 minutes and 39.10 seconds.
Chesire credits his Kenyan culture to having a strong impact on his discipline and motivation as a runner. He said he learned to persevere at a young age from his childhood in Kenya during his “rite of passage from childhood to manhood.”
His rite of passage, he said, gave him the strength to keep pushing himself until he reaches his goals.
Chesire said many people in Kenya do not drive cars, and the main method of transportation is by foot. He said walking and running long distances is an everyday thing.
“Most athletes are used to walking to school,” Chesire said. “I didn’t do it. I went to a boarding school.
“If you are going to the shopping center, you don’t drive. You walk for a mile to bring something back.”
Running takes lots of devotion and dedication, he said. Although Chesire broke a record, he remains humble because he knows he is capable of achieving more.
“Breaking the record, I did not obtain my personal record actually,” Chesire said. “It still gave me the motivation that I can do something good for myself and making improvement.”
Chesire said he began to take his running seriously after high school. He figured his talent could earn him a scholarship to a college in the U.S.
“Every morning, [I’d] have to wake up early,” Chesire said. “It’s hectic. With running, you have to feel the pain. If you aren’t feeling the pain, then you aren’t doing anything,”
Wayne Angel, men’s cross-country head coach, heard great things about Chesire from Olympic gold medalist Paul Ereng.
“In Kenya, there are so many talented athletes,” Angel said. “Being that he’s from Kenya, [Ereng] had eyes on Elias. He told me Elias would be a good fit for our program.”
Kevin Marindich, a sophomore runner at FAMU from Eldoret, Kenya, said he knew Chesire from Kenya and that Chesire recommended him to run for FAMU.
“I consider him my brother,” Marindich said, “He loves running. He has passion. He’s a responsible leader. That’s why he’s the captain.”
On Saturday, the Rattlers will travel to Princess Anne, Md., to compete in the MEAC championships.