Sam Chelanga embodies the American dream. And even if he didn’t finish the men’s pro race quite like he wanted to Monday at the 40th annual Bolder Boulder, Chelanga nonetheless was inescapably moved during his stretch run to the finish line at Folsom Field.
A Kenya-born runner who came to the United States to compete at the college level while gaining an education (he started at Fairleigh Dickinson before winning two cross country national championships at Liberty), Chelanga made his second consecutive appearance with the U.S. men’s elite team in the International Team Challenge at the 40th annual Bolder Boulder on Monday.
Though it wasn’t as successful a race as last year, when Chelanga placed third overall and helped the U.S. to a rare victory in the team standings, Chelanga nonetheless couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed coming down the stretch of the Bolder Boulder with a miniature American flag in hand.
“This is probably my favorite race ever,” Chelanga said. “To come in this stadium and here them cheering for you, it’s Memorial Day and I love America. I got my flag down there and was waving it down the home stretch. I think it embodies the spirit of remembering those who sacrificed for us. My heart was melting coming down there.”
Chelanga finished as the top American runner at ninth-place, clocking in at 29 minutes, 20 seconds. That was about 13 seconds off the pace from when he finished third in 2017, but Chelanga also admitted a recent victory in a marathon competition may have sapped some strength from his legs.
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