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Marathon legends pay visit to BPS students

Posted by Zolan Kanno-Youngs  April 10, 2013 06:29 PM

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Defending Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir awards Latin Academy freshman Imani Pressley the trophy for helping her team win the "Friendship Sprint" at the Scholars & Stars Boston Marathon event at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center on Wednesday. (Stan Litchman / For the Boston Globe)

Wesley Korir is used to moving at a fast pace, whether it was when he won his first marathon in Chicago or when he won the Boston Marathon in 2012.

On Wednesday afternoon, he was forced to move at a fast pace again -- but not because he was in the middle of a race. He was racing the clock to make sure he was on time to the John Hancock Scholars & Stars Boston Marathon event at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.

Korir was the main speaker for the 400 Boston public school track athletes at the event, but was in jeopardy of being absent as a result of a delayed flight (it was a day and a half late). His plane landed around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, allowing for him to impart some running wisdom on the student-athletes.

“I’ve never seen somebody run looking backwards. If you [see] somebody run looking backwards, he’s not a good runner,” Korir said. “As a runner, I’ve never seen somebody run looking down. If you [see] somebody running while looking down, he’s not a good runner. For you to become a good runner, you need to focus and run for the prize ahead of you.”

The attentive students listened on as Korir told his story of how he went from a child running five miles barefoot to class in Kenya, to a senator in the same country and a marathon champion.

“Him just coming here and then trying to make it on time just to see us, that’s a really great gift from him,” said O’Bryant senior Patrick Powell, who was a member of O’Bryant’s 1600-meter sprint medley team that won first place in the event’s first ever "Friendship Sprint" medley relay.

Winning in front of the elite athletes made the entire experience worthwhile for Powell.

Korir was joined by other marathon greats Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of the Boston Marathon, and Greg Meyer, the last American to win the Boston Marathon.

“To link with Scholars and Stars, I love this idea,” Rodgers said. “It’s kind of like what running is permanently all about. It’s really about friendship and the friends you make in school and in sports.”

Meyer, who often volunteers as a high school track coach in his offseason, also took the duties of leading a stretching and core strengthening workout for all of the students at the event.

“There’s a lot of talent in these kids, not just in running but in life,” Meyer said. “You never know when something’s going to click with a kid and they’re good kids, they’re fun.”

Meyer was joined in leading the stretches with another member of the O’Bryant relay team, sophomore Brian Donna who hopes to run in the Olympics some day.

“You’re learning from the masters, they’ve been through everything you’ve been through,” Donna said. “You got to lead by example, there’s leaders and followers.”

By that mentality, the student’s couldn’t have had better athletes to listen to.

“You have the opportunity to change this country the way you want,” Korir said. “So take the opportunity, keep it in your hand and run with it and become who you want to become.”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at kannoyoungs.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @KannoYoungs.

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Several reporters, editors and correspondents contribute updates, news and features to the BPS Sports Blog:
  • Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
  • Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.
Also expect updates from Boston.com High School sports editor Zuri Berry and the Globe staff.