David Thuo
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David Thuo: The record-breaking recreational racer is unstoppable

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Dathon Ace Limited CEO David Thuo does a stretch workout exercise at Karen, Nairobi on May 15, 2024.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

David Thuo’s BMW car boot could be mistaken for an elite sports club locker room.

Several pairs of the latest Nike racing shoes here, bottles of meticulously mixed hydration fluids there, a training mat, packed full-nutrient meals, running apparel…

What strikes me, in particular, is his rich repertoire of Nike racing shoes.

“The shoe that you have raced in shouldn’t be the shoe that you train in,” Thuo explains his multiple shoe collection, with each pair’s mileage clocked well documented on a running app.

“I have to have different shoes because they wear out differently. You need to have a shoe that is about to wear out, like this one that’s about to go off…this one is the one I have been training in for the Comrade’s Marathon, and this is the one I will run the Comrades Marathon with, and so I’ve started using it so that by the time I’m doing the Comrades Marathon, the shoe will probably have covered 120 to 150 kilometres,” he says.

David Thuo

Dathon Ace Limited CEO David Thuo during a morning run exercise at Karen, Nairobi on May 15, 2024.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

“These have done about 400 kilometres… I track them on (running app) Strava… and this is the one I ran with at the Tokyo Marathon. By the time I ran in Tokyo, the shoes had covered about 80 kilometres,” he says, taking me through the reasoning behind the several pairs of Nike racing shoes in his possession after an early morning run in Nairobi’s Karen.

“These are for the easy runs, I’m about to phase them off, and this is the main shoe for training now while this one is for the Comrades Marathon. By the time I’ve done the Comrades Marathon, it will be going to 200 kilometres, and then I will do another 200 kilometres with it and by that time I will get another pair as I prepare for the Sydney Marathon in September,” he says.

The shoe is a critical part of training because it takes eight times your body weight, so if you have worn-out shoes, you risk injury a lot.

“Since I’m also running on 100 percent tarmac, the shoes are a very critical part of my training,” he adds.

Such is Thuo’s attention to detail that even surpasses that of many Kenyan elite runners, even those with direct, lucrative shoe sponsorship from sportswear giants like Nike, Adidas, or Asics.

Recreational runner David Thuo targets fifth 90-kilometre Comrades Marathon

The Comrades Marathon that Thuo is talking about is happening today, Sunday, June 9.

It is a 90-kilometre challenge in South Africa and the world’s oldest ultra-marathon race traditionally run between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It is one of the world’s most challenging ultra-marathon races.

Dathon Ace Limited CEO David Thuo

Dathon Ace Limited CEO David Thuo (right) receives water from his training assistant Dominic Mobaya during his routine exercise at Karen, Nairobi on May 15, 2024. 

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

Thuo is among a group of over 50 runners from East Africa, including over 30 from Kenya, 25 from Uganda and five from Tanzania, running in today’s Comrades Marathon.

Fifth time

It will be the fifth appearance at the Comrades Marathon for the 48-year-old Thuo, the owner and CEO of Dathon Ace, a Wilson Airport-based company that overhauls aircraft components for aircraft companies in Kenya and the East African region.

Thuo’s love for running also sees him operate the “Fitness with David” outfit that seeks to help individuals and corporates in Kenya and beyond to develop the best version of themselves through running.

“I have a motto ‘to inspire through running.’ Health is your biggest wealth because when that fails, nothing else matters,” he explains as he cools down from the morning run at a 3.2-kilometres “Vienna Loop” route he mapped out and named around Nairobi’s Karen Plains Road, Begonia Drive, Farah Road and Forest View Road.

In March this year, Thuo joined the exclusive “Six-Star Club” of runners that have completed all six, famous World Marathon Majors (WMM) races in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.

In Tokyo, he was among a group that set a Guinness World Record for ‘the most Six Star Finishers on a single day’, sailing past the 10,000 mark for total members of the ‘Six Star Hall of Fame.’

“Standing at any of our medal presentation areas always offers a reminder of the power of these six races, and what it means to the runners when they complete their journey,” Thuo reflects.

Dathon Ace Limited CEO David Thuo

Dathon Ace Limited CEO David Thuo does a stretch workout exercise at Karen, Nairobi on May 15, 2024.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

“The culmination of achieving something so amazing that so few have done is incredible—the journey of commitments, staying true to your dreams. Now I feel absolutely amazing and ecstatic. It’s all about the attitude in the waiting room—clapping for others waiting my turn,” he says.

At the Tokyo Marathon in March, nearly 3,000 medals were given out at the finish line to athletes who had completed all six majors, with Thuo completing the race in two hours, 38 minutes, and 59 seconds. Quite impressive for a recreational runner.

“My number one goal was to get over this “six-star” hurdle in Tokyo and to do it in under three hours, which is a recreational runner’s dream. I just came from running my second fastest time in the Valencia Marathon of 2:47:00 in December last year.”

Many of the runners participating in the Tokyo record had waited for this moment since first earning a place in the 2020 race, which was reduced to an elite-only field as the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed international travel and mass participation events all over the world.

“Runners continued to wait through 2021 and 2022 before travel restrictions for Japan were relaxed to allow overseas visitors to enter the country,” explains Thuo, who missed an e-mail that had gone to his junk folder containing his official invitation to last year’s Tokyo Marathon.


He describes his running and work ethic, as a meticulous attention to detail.

“When I go home in the evening, I pack my hydration fluids for the following morning’s run,” he explains his daily routine.

“I use Maurten, which is the same hydration fluid elite like Eliud Kipchoge use. I mix the drinks depending on the distance. I do about 140 to 150 kilometres a week and when you put in so much work, a wrong drink can mess up with your entire training of weeks and months,” he adds.

“I don’t buy food because I want to eat something specific to my training,” he says, displaying his food bag that contains a protein drink for post-run recovery, eggs and vegetables, an evening snack and lunch with protein, vegetables, chapati and arrowroot. People ask me what I eat, I eat very little but very efficiently and properly,” he says.

He has ticked every training day (the micro wins on the way to the macro wins) despite a heavy work schedule.

“I am a business owner working 18 hours a day, but, luckily, I get to choose which 18 hours I work,” he says.

The difference between him and the elite athletes, he says, is that he has to go to work during the day.

“They will run, then sleep. But I’ve got a very busy job so when I get to work, I must focus,” explains Thuo whose regime sees him off to sleep by 8.30pm, waking up by 3am each day for his morning workouts.

Just how does Thuo juggle work, training and global marathons?

“A person’s life needs to be holistic, and it is composed of many elements. I look at them [marathons] as the various aspects of wellness; physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial, and environmental. Of course, when it’s a busy season of, say, work, family, training or as the case may be, one or a few could override the others but then when that eases off, you give to the others. I am, however, very clear. I am the goose that lays the golden egg, and I can’t give what I don’t have. I fill my cup first so that I have something to offer others. I, therefore, come first, and all else is second. This is how I look at things. Anything in the way of that then we have a problem,” he says.

 David Thuo

Dathon Ace Limited CEO David Thuo shows some of his exercise workout shoes at Karen, Nairobi on May 15, 2024. 

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

So, what next for Thuo after completing the “six-star” in Tokyo?

“We say one finish line ushers you to the start run of another,” he says, “I am also the kind of person who believes there is always another level. That’s why even with the delayed six-star, I still kept doing a lot.”

His target is to get to run in 10 Comrades Marathon editions and earn what they call a “green number.”

“Then who knows, I may shoot for 15, maybe 20. Barry Holland has run 48 of them (as of last year). Fathom that! I turn 48 this year. He has run 90 kilometres each year of the years I will have lived this year,” Thuo says.

Then there is the upcoming World Marathon Majors’ seventh star-eligible race in Sidney in September. Because of his speed seeding based on age, he has an automatic qualification to Sydney.

“There is so much to do in all spheres of life… we go to bed tired but grateful, but wake up hungry for the next level if we are driven and not mediocre,” he says. To Thuo, running is indeed a metaphor for life.

“We draw life’s lessons from running. Even with all things aligned, you don’t always succeed, but the effort is not always in vain. The metaphor for life is discipline, consistency, focus, mental fortitude and learning from what doesn’t work,” he says.