Kenyan marathon runners get decked out California-style 

click to enlarge Shadrack Chepyego Japhet Koech
  • mIKE kOOZMIN/tHE s.f. eXAMINER
  • A sales associate helps runners Shadrack Chepyego, right, and Japhet Koech, center, shop Wednesday.
Kenyan marathoners Shadrack Chepyego and Japhet Koech arrived in San Francisco through a crowdsourcing effort ready to hit the ground running with a couple of workout outfits, but they didn’t seem prepared to weather the latest cold snap.

So San Francisco resident Conyers Davis — who read about Chepyego and Koech in the book “Running with the Kenyans” and wanted to give them an opportunity to run the California International Marathon — brought them to Gap’s flagship store on Market Street for a shopping spree Wednesday.

Sales associates helped the overwhelmed Kenyans pick some fashionable clothes. Koech, 26, had picked out a sky-blue basic T-shirt but accepted a fancier suggestion — a graphic tee of The City’s iconic bridge with “Golden State of Mind” lettering.

“That’s the bridge you’ve been running to every day,” said Davis, 34. “You’re going to look like Californians by the time you leave.”

Chepyego, 25, planned to give his first finds to family members before realizing he was being asked to shop for everyone, including himself.

“It’s something very wonderful for me,” he said. “I was not expecting things like this.”

The donated American consumer experience was a last-minute addition to “Kenyafornia,” the crowdsourcing effort Davis fronted, which raised $8,770 so the Kenyans could run the marathon from Folsom to the state capitol taking place Sunday.

Koech, who along with Chepyego will return home Dec. 12, said the experience has been strange but it brought him much happiness.

“I feel like I’m in another world,” he said. “This is a sign of love. I love it.”

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Bio:
Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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