His long, gangly strides and relaxed demeanor ooze confidence on the road. Post-race interviews highlight a wide, brimming smile and an ease with life. Despite these outward signals, however, life has not always been so fluid for Paul Tergat. A record-setting marathoner who has always had a passion for running, the Kenyan, 1 of 17 children, has known extreme hunger. As a World Food Programme (WFP) Ambassador Against Hunger, and through his namesake Paul Tergat Foundation, the marathon man campaigns in favor of proper nutrition, access to ample food and clear water, and empowerment of local communities through sports, education, and proper food creation and distribution infrastructures.
As a child in Kenya’s Rift Valley, Tergat endured the hardships of rural poverty on a daily basis. Walks to and from school presented difficulties of their own due to extreme hunger, and focusing in school was even tougher. However, the introduction of a WFP school meals program into his school when he was 8-years-old provided a solid foundation of energy to pursue his education and other passions, namely soccer and running. The WFP food played a crucial role in his development as both a runner and a philanthropist.
Phenomenal athletes often use their pasts to fuel successes, and Tergat was no exception. Given a zest and enthusiasm for life being adequately nourished, the runner experienced an exceptional running career. His accomplishments include 13 World Cross Country Championship titles, 2 consecutive World Half Marathon Championships and 2 Olympic silver medals in the men’s 10,000 meters. He also set a new world marathon record at the 2003 Berlin Marathon, shaving 43 seconds off the previous low, and won the prestigious New York City Marathon in 2005. Needless to say, Tergat made the most of an opportunity to showcase his talents and abilities given proper sustenance.
Tergat’s impressive list of accomplishments also extends to philanthropy, where his work as a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger and through his foundation has empowered many people and communities throughout Africa. The Paul Tergat Foundation is based around a core set of values, including education and youth development, sports as a means of empowerment, the development of modern food and water production and storage technologies, sustainable economic empowerment, and the investment of time, effort, and money into programs and initiatives promoting healthy living in the developing world. Additionally, in 2007, Tergat accompanied actress Drew Barrymore on a tour throughout some of Nairobi’s lowest slums, highlighting the delivery of school meals to children in the area. He has also spoken in the Washington, DC area at local schools and universities to highlight the importance of proper nutrition and access to sustainable food sources. Overall, Paul Tergat works tirelessly to promote the lives and futures of children throughout Africa struggling with the same visceral hunger he battled against for much of his young life.
As the owner of multiple Olympic medals, world championship titles, and marathon record times, Paul Tergat has experienced tremendous success in the athletic arena. However, his dedication, humility, and strong work ethic permeates all aspects of his character, and through the use of his status as a celebrated athlete, the marathon man engages in important work on a daily basis, running to combat debilitating hunger in African communities.