Cosmas Ayabei, a 25-year old junior from Kenya, seemed surprisingly humble after trouncing his competition in the 3,000-meter run at the Jayhawk Classic at the University of Kansas in Lawrence on Jan. 27.
Ayabei’s winning time, 8:29.60, was a career best and more than seven seconds faster than the 2nd-place finisher.
It was also the fourth-best indoor time in this event in UMKC history.
Ayabei now holds three of the program’s five best indoor times at 3,000 meters.
He explained he was somewhat disappointed the competition was not stronger but nevertheless expected a better performance from himself.
“I knew I would win because of the level I’m on, opposed to my competitors,” he said.
Ayabei explained that his coaches want him to get his time down to 8:20 or better, but that he has been slowed by a shin strain.
Ayabei, who ran only on outdoor tracks in Kenya, attributes his shin problem to his continuing adjustment to indoor tracks in the U.S. with their shorter straightaways and sharper turns. But he is passionate about running on any kind of a track.
He also explains a passion to succeed as a student to sustain his running career and use his success to make his family and friends back home happy. He said it is his “duty to win and represent UMKC and Kenya”.
Ayabei will next compete at the Iowa State Classic in Ames on Feb. 10, but explained he is “unsure whether I’ll perform to the best of my abilities because of this shin injury.”
The event will serve as a qualifier for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 9-10 in Boise, Idaho and will include competition that Ayabei describes as “some of the best runners I’ve ever seen.”
He should not be disappointed with the level of competition this time.