Wesley Korir

Despite besting his winning time in the 2012 Boston Marathon by 10 seconds, Southeast member Wesley Korir came in fifth this year. He had finished his race before bombs exploded at the finish line. Korir said the shock of being so close to terror is a reminder to appreciate life. He said nothing will stop him from running and competing.

Close calls are nothing new to runner Wesley Korir.

During the Boston Marathon, Wesley’s wife Tarah, 2-year-old daughter McKayla, Tarah’s parents, Blair and Wendy McKay, and University of Louisville track and field coach Ron Mann had VIP passes at the finish line.  

That day, April 15, Boston streets bustled with activity as 23,000 runners from every state and 90 countries competed in the marathon.

Always a media favorite, Wesley used the week before the race to talk about his faith and work with Kenyan Kids Foundation.

The weather was cool that morning. Wesley prefers warm race days after running all his life in Kenyan heat, but he led through much of the race.

This year he trained while campaigning in Kenya and became the first member of the Kenyan parliament to compete in the Boston Marathon.

He finished fifth, crossing the finish line in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 30 seconds. It was 10 seconds faster than his first place finish last year.

About two hours later, at 2:50 p.m., a bomb exploded just short of the finish line. Ten seconds later, a second bomb exploded.

Tarah heard about the explosion while getting something to eat in the hotel. Within minutes, the hotel was on lockdown and she returned to the room to tell Wesley what had happened. He looked out the hotel window overlooking the finish line to see police officers, ambulances and horrified runners and spectators.

Wesley began calling other Kenyan runners in the marathon to make sure they were safe.

It was a horrific event.  

“An hour earlier, all of us were in that spot,” Tarah said. “We are grateful to be alive and continue to pray for those who were wounded and the families of those who died.”

Wesley said being close to danger once again is a reminder that “our lives are a vapor.”  

“One of those things God reminds me is to be appreciative of life,” he said. “There are no guarantees. We have to enjoy every minute. You never know what’s next.”

The Boston Marathon bombing is another in a series of close calls for Wesley. In 2007, he fled for his life when post-election violence erupted in Kenya.  

“I believe God has a plan for my life,” Wesley said. “I don’t believe He’s done with me yet. When God is done with me, I’ll be ready to go.”

At the same time, Wesley said no one will stop him from running. He’s already filed papers to be away from parliament for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Wesley has returned to Kenya to serve in parliament while Tarah remains in Canada with her parents. She and McKayla will move to Kenya this summer for Wesley’s five-year term.

Through their Kenyan Kids Foundation, they will continue to invest in school fees for children in Wesley’s hometown of Biribiriet, agricultural training for farmers in the area and the hospital where people are treated whether they can pay fees or not.

Tarah wants people to come help in the hospital, schools and agricultural programs.

“We can use everyone who is willing to come help,” she said.  

For more information about Kenyan Kids Foundation, go to www.kenyankids foundation.org.