Learning From the Greats — Saaeed Shaheen

2009 World Cross Country Amman, Jorda    March 28, 2009 Photo: G

Saaeed Shaheen or Stephen Cherono is one of the most intriguing runners I have ever watched…originally from Kenya and born with the name Stephen Cherono, he soon defected to Qatar and changed his named to Saaeed Shaheen.

Shaheen is the former world record holder in the 3000 meter steeplechase and was nearly unstoppable until he was felled by injury. His unique hurdling ability, or lack-thereof, and his aggressive and courageous racing tactics made him hard to not cheer for.

But, what sealed the deal for Cherono as one of my all-time favorite runners was this story / quote from Renato Canova about Shaheen in training…

He is completely professional in every moment of his life—when he has an injury, when he has to rest—everything. He has a very nice house in Eldoret, and stays in training in Iten in a camp, that—I don’t know—is not very different to where there are sheep. And he says, ‘For training I need four walls, one roof, one bed and two blankets, because it may be cold.’ And it’s [at an elevation of] 2,300 meters—nothing else. And he is very rich, and can have a very soft, comfortable life in his house that is just 30 kilometers away! Thirty kilometers away, and he goes there one time a week, on Sunday. The other days he stays always in Iten, in this type of camp. Because this is the complete—the real type of motivation. 

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