Meet Ruengo, Oldest marathoner to grace Safaricom’s Lewa Marathon for 20th time this year

An 88-year-old man, John Ruengo is among more than 1,400 athletes who will compete in the 20th edition of the Safaricom Lewa Marathon on June 29.

Ruengo, who has also set his sights on becoming the oldest marathoner alive, will be out to retain the half marathon title he won last year in the category of people aged above 52 years.

Speaking to media on Friday during a pre-race competition meant to identify amateur athletes to represent the community living around Lewa Conservancy in the marathon, Ruengo said he has stepped up training for the race and was confident of performing well.

The retired community development officer from Mutunyi Village in Meru County has participated and completed in the 21km race in all previous 19 editions of Lewa Marathon.

“I don’t take alcohol because it ruins an athlete’s chances of winning. It is a great enemy to any runner. I ensure I take plenty of vegetables with every meal, and I buy camel bone soup from Isiolo town,” said Ruengo.

The veteran athlete said he religiously jogs for five kilometres every morning and evening for four days a week to keep fit. He also observes a strict diet composed mainly of green leafy vegetables and camel bone soup.


In the forthcoming race, Ruengo will be up against his eldest son, Bernard Wachira, while his other son, James Njogu will also compete. Njogu’s daughter Nyaguthii who is also Ruengo’s granddaughter will compete in the race.

John Ruengo displays medals he has won in past editions of Lewa Marathon on March 29, 2019. PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO |

“I could be the oldest marathoner in the world after (British Sikh centenarian marathon runner of Punjabi Indian descent) Fauja Singh retired in 2013 at 101 years. He sent me a letter urging me to carry on,” Ruengo claimed.

Lewa Community Development Manager John Kinoti said they were hoping to raise money to boost conservation activities and help the local community get enough water for drinking and for agriculture.

Ruengo once represented Kenya in the full marathon in the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games (now known as the Commonwealth Games) held in Perry Lakes Stadium in Perth, Australia.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *