1-of-a-Kind Gift: A $400 Run with a World-Class Kenyan Marathoner


As reported by John Branch of the New York Times, Michael Chambers received, as a 40th birthday present, a run and lunch with Richard Kiplagat. “Kiplagat was paid $400 to run with Chambers and have lunch with his family. A driver in a Lincoln Town Car picked him up at dawn at his home in New Milford, N.J., and returned him late in the afternoon. “What a birthday present,” a stunned Chambers said as Richard Kiplagat, 27, entered his SoHo apartment, ready to run. It was like a take-home fantasy camp, akin to hiring a Brazilian soccer star to kick the ball around in the backyard, or a Chinese table-tennis champion to play a few games in the basement. “When it comes to running, I’m always ready to do it,” said Kiplagat, wearing New Balance clothes and shoes and an effervescent smile that seemingly comes without a dim switch. He admitted to being surprised when his manager called last week, saying an odd request had been made through the New York Road Runners: someone wanted to hire a Kenyan runner. Kiplagat, a former 10-time All-American distance runner at Iona who is now one of the top road racers in the world, splits time between the United States and his home in Marakwet, Kenya. He did not hesitate to say yes. “I said, ‘Wow, it’s unusual to do something like this,’ ” Kiplagat said. “Especially for a Kenyan.” It is unusual for anyone, even a wealthy New Yorker. Chambers runs about 40 or 50 miles each week and has completed three marathons, including the New York City Marathon last month. About 8:30 a.m. Thursday, he was about to embark on his daily run when his wife, Tina, stopped him. She wanted to present a birthday gift from her and Michael’s parents, Ray and Patricia Chambers. They attended lunch with Kiplagat later in the day. Ray Chambers is a former part-owner of the Nets, the Devils and the Yankees, and a long-time philanthropist. He now serves as a United Nations envoy for the fight against malaria. Michael Chambers, an investor in various Web and media companies, and his wife have made a habit of inventive, if expensive, gift giving. The two took a trip to Africa in 2000. A couple of years later, he had a wing of a school built in her name in Tanzania. Last year, he adopted an elephant in her name through a wildlife federation. Chambers had become enamored with the strength of the Kenyan runners, and the stories of poverty and perseverance behind them.”

Via NY Times