Whilst working at the London Marathon Expo in April earlier this year, I attended many press meetings and interviews. One meet and greet I found most exciting was with long distance runner Lornah Kiplagat who was showcasing and selling her new female sportswear collection ‘Lornah’. The range was designed by the multi world champion herself, hosting a variety of African themed colours and prints, all relating back to Lornahs national heritage and the transcending roots of Africa.
The garments had significant personal touches incorporated into the print such as the Kenyan national anthem, cleverly designed into a pattern. From afar, the garments look bold, structured female sportswear, but when you get a closer look at the print, you see scrolled images of Masai warriors, African animals and Kenyan writing incorporated into the design. The bespoke garments come alive with the spirit of African running, each piece demonstrated a part of Lornahs life story, the journey she has taken to become the person she is today.
Lornahs female apparel is influenced by tribal patterns and animal images embedded into the high quality technical running material.
She wanted to create a collection that showed true meaning to her passion for running and demonstrate the courageous journey she has taken.
My one on one interview with Lornah was most intriguing. She is an all round pleasant and friendly women who is driven by hard work in a target hitting career which is very controversial to the traditional path of a Kenyan women. Lornah broke away from the path layed out by her predecessors, a limited life of conforming to the duties of a house wife and subversive to men.
When Lornah discovered her exceptional ability to run at a young age, she used it as a platform to over step a male dominated society and move forward one leg at a time.
The Kenyan athletics federation did not make it easy for women to compete, thus push starting her journey to travel around the world, competing in championship races and living off her winnings.
From her built success as a professional runner, Lornahs career was souring but she always managed to keep herself grounded, never forgetting where she came from and how it made her the aspiring athlete she is today. “Growing up in Kenya, opportunities for success were hard to grasp” Lornah explains from first hand experience. The journey was taken by hurdles, and like Lornah, there are many girls in Kenya that are still in the position of a deprived lifestyle set by old tradition. The realism of home inspired Lornah to bring forth the ‘Lornah Kiplagat Foundation’ that is dedicated to give Kenyan girls a fair chance at a good education. As well as this, she created Africa’s best High Altitude Training Centre, accommodating the worlds best runners and built the first ever privately funded synthetic running track in Iten, Kenya. She is a modern-day super hero with big heart; greatly appreciated by her home community and the opportunities she has created for all.
Lornah has an inspirational story, demonstrating bravery, willpower, dedication and hard work, all factors that has brought her to this current position. ‘Lornah Sports’ is an expression of her journey and personal refusal to conform to normality of a traditional Kenyan women, embracing female empowerment through running.