For many students at Belmont, traveling to school means a few hours or a couple hundred miles. For freshman cross-country runner Erick Kigen, traveling to and from school means traveling two days and covering 8,000 miles.
Kigen, who calls Eldoret, Kenya, home, has been running cross-country for four years. He loves physical fitness, and running gives him the ability to stay fit and have fun. His average time for a 5-mile race is 5:10, per mile.
Kigen first heard about Belmont in 2006 from a friend in Kenya who graduated in 2005. His friend told him about Belmont’s academics, student life, and various scholarships available for student athletes. This motivated Kigen to excel in school and athletics in order to attend Belmont.
Making the decision to attend school so far from home can be difficult, but for Kigen it was simple. “There was no option other than using my talent and God given opportunity to quench my thirst of education,” Kigen said. Kigen never considered any other universities in his search for the perfect school. “Only Belmont. This was because I knew that from Belmont you will be accepted anywhere, and secondly because Belmont is a Christian university,” Kigen said.
In addition to his passion for running and physical fitness, he also has a passion for health and helping others. These passions lead Kigen to decide on majoring in nursing. “I was a scout for almost more than ten years and I liked helping other people. I volunteered most of the time in First Aid during games and sport competitions, and I even participated in community health seminars,” Kigen said.
As for his future plans, he intends to move back to Kenya after graduation and be a professor.
When describing himself, Kigen says he is a “maverick, self driven,” and really enjoys teamwork. Utilizing teamwork certainly has its advantages when adjusting to a environment. “Erick has endeared himself to the team concept rather quickly and the guys on the team really enjoy hanging out with him,” said Jeff Langdon, head cross-country coach. Another benefit of being on a team is his teammates give him “advice and encouragement,” Kigen said. However, he still misses his family and home cooked meals the most. In order to combat this, he said he always finds a way to keep busy by reading or running to take his mind off it.
As for goals and aspirations for the team, Langdon states clearly, “Anything short of winning the conference championship will be a disappointment,” which is a very reachable goal. At their first and second meets, the team placed third out of 21 teams in South Carolina and third out of 13 teams at Vanderbilt.
Currently, the team is ranked fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference. However, we are going to take it one race at a time. If we show the improvement that we expect to make each week, we’ll be ready at the end of the season, Langdon said.
In the meantime, Kigen is proving to be a very important asset to the Bruins success. Kigen placed third individually in South Carolina with the time of 25:38 on the 8K course, and he placed 10th out of 141 runners at Vanderbilt on the 8K course with a time of 25:58.44.