Plans complete for legend Henry Rono’s final journey

Samson Cherargei

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei (second right) signs a condolences book following the death of legendary athlete Henry Rono at Rono’s family’s home in Kiptaragon Village, Kabirirsang Location, Nandi County, on February 25, 2024.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Rono died on February 15 at the Nairobi West Hospital while undergoing treatment.
  • The fallen legend had turned 72 just three days before his death.

Hosea Kogo from Kapchen in Nandi County met with the late Henry Rono while on a morning run in Albuquerque, USA, in 2002.

Kogo was in the US State of New Mexico to compete in various races, and the high altitude hills in Albuquerque provided ideal training conditions.

After all, legendary Kenyan marathon runners trained here, including trailblazing Ibrahim Hussein and his brother Mbarak. 

When Kogo saw the legend, he decided to say hello in his Kalenjin language, and the old man responded and asked him who he was.

They had a chat and Rono invited the young Kogo to his house in the evening.

They would later discuss a wide range of issues, with Rono saying he was interested in mentoring young athletes and helping them secure a good future.

“He was a mentor to me and that time he had gone through a lot and he decided to give me advice on what I should do. 

“When I was with him, we shared a lot and he asked me to invest wisely,” Kogo told Nation Sport at the family home in Kiptaragon Village in Nandi County on Sunday.

Kogo said Rono inspired many after breaking four world records inside 81 days, adding that it was through pure talent that he managed to achieve these great things.

It was in 1978 that Rono shattered the four world records in an 81-day blitz – 10,000 metres (27 minutes, 22.5 seconds), 5,000m (13:08.4), 3,000m steeplechase (8:05.4) and 3,000m steeplechase (7:32.1). 

“What Rono did was pure talent because during that period, there was no science in sports and seeing Rono competing and running well and clean, it inspired us during our days and we did that without using performance-enhancing drugs unlike nowadays,” he said.
Friendly , hard-working man

In honour of the late Rono, Kogo urges the elite and upcoming athletes to always practice clean and fair sport and avoid short-cuts because it ruins the great name Kenya has earned internationally through the sport. 

Rono died on February 15 at the Nairobi West Hospital while undergoing treatment.

Henry Rono

Kenyan track legend Henry Rono lets it sink in as he arrives at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on November 19, 2019.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

He had been admitted at the hospital for 10 days has been described as a friendly and hard-working man who was supportive and a mentor to the upcoming generation. 

The fallen legend had turned 72 just three days before his death.

The legend’s family is in the process of giving Rono a befitting send-off tomorrow at his Kirobon farm in Kuresoi North, Nakuru County, with a number of legends expected to attend.

According to his cousin James Bett, preparations are almost complete and the body is expected to leave Umash Funeral Home in Nairobi County today for an overnight stay at his home before he is buried tomorrow. 

“We have relatives and friends here in Nandi County who will be travelling to Molo for the burial and we are doing a fund-raiser so that we can hire four buses for the same purpose. 

“Rono was a great athlete that we need to celebrate and give him a befitting send-off because he hoisted Kenya’s flag high during his days,” said Bett.

Bett has Rono relocated from the US to Kiptaragon to stay with his childhood friends.

“When he stayed in the village, he purposely wanted to mingle with his childhood friends and mentor the upcoming talented youths. In fact, he was planning to have a training school, and that was his dream that was not to be,” he added. 

Nandi County Senator Samson Cherargei urged the national government to name the new stadium that is to be built after Rono for raising the status of athletics in Kenya.

“Rono was one of the greatest athletes who did marvellous things in the 70’s, including breaking four world records in a span of 81 days. 

“These are people we need to celebrate and as a government, we are going to discuss on how we can construct something that will be named after him…… he is a legend that can’t be wished away,” said Cherargei. 

He added that all the world record holders should be given drivers and security, referring the loss of world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum who died in a road accident and was buried last Friday at his home in Naiberi, Uasin Gishu County.

Rono is survived by a widow and two children.