Giving Back

Wilson Kipsang

Wilson Kipsang, a Kenyan marathoner, has loved to run since childhood. In a nation known for producing excellent runners, he enjoyed the opportunity to compete at school and in other competitions. After completing his education, Wilson joined the police force, where a friend began inviting him to come to church with him. Wilson finally accepted his friend’s invitation, and his life started to change.

“I could see the way he’s doing things,” Wilson says. “I thought, ‘This guy is doing it in the right way.’”

“From the time I really gave my life to Christ, I can say that was a turning point,” he remembers. “I began to approach issues in the right way. And by doing so, I got the best results.”

In 2007, Wilson got his first chance to compete outside of Kenya. Originally he competed in 10K and 20K races. But his moment of fame came when he started running marathons. In 2010, Wilson ran the Paris Marathon and finished in third place. Six months later he won the Frankfurt marathon in a course record time -- it was only his second marathon. At the London 2012 Olympics, he was given the opportunity to represent Kenya in the men’s marathon. He had an early lead and pushed the pace, breaking away from the pack after 12 kilometers, but struggled to maintain this pace to the end. He finished third, earning a bronze medal. Perhaps the greatest performance of Wilson’s career happened at the Berlin Marathon in 2013. “Breaking the record in Berlin, it was something wonderful to me,” he says. “It had really been my dream to go for the record and be at the top.” The following year Wilson’s record was broken by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto. Still, Wilson kept running and winning marathons. Victories in London and New York enabled him to win the World Marathon Majors title in 2014. “There are so many talents God has given me,” he says. “God wants the talents and the gifts given to us, to use [them for] more. To multiply them.”

Serving Others

Wilson felt that the best way to use his gift of running was in building up his home community in Iten, where he’d competed as a child. Using his winnings, Wilson built a hotel, the Keellu Resort, which has created jobs for more than 25 people. He also contributed to the construction of a new church building in Iten, and helped to finance a new school, where he serves as the director. “When the Bible says, ‘seek the goodness of others,’ you have to do it,” Wilson believes. “If it says, ‘Love one another,’ you have to do it! That is what I’ve been trying to do so much.”