Kenyan marathon runner Joseph Kamau this weekend suddenly realized just how fast he is, according to multiple sources.
Kamau, 24, who grew up in small village in Kenya's Rift Valley Province, has been running professionally since age 19, when he made his marathon debut at the Frankfurt Marathon, finishing in 2:10:22. He has since lowered his personal best time to a 2:06:34, at last fall's Chicago Marathon. His half-marathon PR is 1:01:44.
By any reasonable standard, he is a very fast runner.
Still, sources say, Kamau apparently failed all this time to grasp just how speedy he was—until Saturday.
The realization came as Kamau was midway through a 12K tempo run, sources say, when he stopped "practically midstride" and appeared to stagger.
"At first we thought he was ill," said one witness, a training partner. "Maybe even in cardiac arrest or something like that."
"Or a panic attack," said another.
It was none of those things. Rather, they learned, it had dawned on Kamau how incredibly fast he runs.
"Wait," Kamau said to no one in particular. "Whoa. Whoa. Guys. Do you know a 2:06 marathon is, like, 4 minutes 50 seconds... per mile?"
"For twenty-six miles?"
"In a row?"
"Holy shit," he added.
Kamau's epiphany effectively ended their workout, said his training partners.
"Joseph just stood there for a moment, looking at the sky," said one. "Then he sat down and just... sat."
Kamau reportedly spent at least 15 minutes in silence before rising and walking away slowly, muttering that "most people can't run that fast for even a minute" and—this time in a whisper—"holy shit."
Emails and phone messages to Kamau went unreturned, but he later posted on Twitter, writing, "If I wanted to, I could go run a mile in 4 1/2 minutes. RIGHT NOW," and "Holy shit."