by: Devin Smith
photo by: Trojan Athletics
Contrary to popular belief, slow and steady does not always win the race. Although that may not be the formula for competitive success, it has been the figurative and literal path traveled by Enock Kirui.
Just being at Troy and away from his home in Kenya was difficult, but there also were transitions into American culture that Enock had to adjust to.
“My first option for college wasn’t Troy,” said Kirui. “My brother was why I wanted to come. I had gotten scholarships from other schools, and I didn’t even know where Troy was. But I looked at the school programs, and I liked the programs they had. I wanted to be an engineer, my second choice was accounting.”
After speaking with his family about the programs that Troy offered, namely in accounting, they felt as though it was a very good option for him. His brother never ended up coming to Troy, but the decision wasn’t made until after Enock had arrived.
He considered whether or not staying was best from him during that time, but after deciding that he wanted to prove to himself that he could finish what he had started Enock stayed at Troy. Although the process hasn’t been easy, it has been well worth it.
“I’ve had many good things happen since I came to Troy,” said Kirui. “And I’ve had some kinks too. But I’ve made a transition since I got here. Everyone in my family has succeeded due to running, not education. So when I came here Troy opened my mind to see that I could succeed with the education I got here and not running only.”
One of the bigger transitions besides his thought process pertaining to education was communication. Obviously a different language is spoken in Africa, but it is was not so much the change in language as it was the change in how people used it to communicate that proved difficult for Enock.
Enock had a fair amount success in his freshman and sophomore years, but an stress fracture in his Tibia set him back early on in his junior year. At first the setback was both physical and mental, but with rehab and support from his teammates and coaches he found the will to push forward and has grown from the experience.
“My mind was ready and strong enough to handle what was to come,” said Kirui. “But my body wasn’t. Sometimes you just have to continue to tell yourself you are the best, even when someone beats me I still tell myself that I am better. I may not have had the best training in the past, but the training I’m getting now has helped me a lot.”
Jeff Jenkins, the Cross Country and Distance Coach, had this to say of Enock. “I wish we had five of him,” said Jenkins. “Because we would win the Sun Belt every year just with his attitude alone.”
The process of rehab was not only taxing on Enock because of his physical limitations, but also because of how it affected his team. This over time helped mold him into a leader on the team and someone to help guide the younger athletes as they begin their careers.
“It has been a big challenge,” said Kirui. “Whenever many people look up on you, it makes it hard. But I could tell in my teammates that they were watching what I was doing. At first I didn’t like it, but that has changed with time. Now I want to be someone that when people watch me train or run, they say I want to be like him.”
Now fully healthy and ready for his final season, Enock is prepared for a very competitive road ahead and looks forward to what the future holds.
“I’ve never been scared of racing anybody,” said Enock. “You can beat me, but I like it when you beat me. Because it makes me strong, if you beat me today you will not over and over again. But it’s a team effort, not an individual effort. So my thinking is just lets go get this championship.”