Isaiah Kosgei is encouraging north-east runners to join him in a virtual half marathon to raise funds for his latest charitable project.
The veteran Kenyan athlete has become a popular figure on the Aberdeen running scene during his regular visits in recent years.
He proudly wore a Metro Aberdeen Running Club vest when winning the 2019 Loch Ness marathon ahead of a record field of more than 5,000 competitors. It was a case of third-time lucky, as he had finished fifth in 2017 and third in 2018.
Kosgei donned the black and gold colours in tribute to his many friends at the club who have always supported him.
He used some of his Loch Ness prize money to help under-privileged children in his local area, buying school uniforms, shoes and learning materials.
The 45-year-old African lives in the town of Eldoret in the heart of an area famed for producing a remarkable array of world-class distance running talent.
During the coronavirus pandemic he has been busy donating food, other basic needs and face masks to less fortunate families in his village.
Now he wants to build an additional classroom for a secondary school in the community of Kapngetuny to alleviate over-crowding and help the students continue to learn during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kosgei said: “The population of children in a classroom is high and exceeds the required number. A classroom should accommodate 35 students, but currently there are 50. I haven’t helped this school before, but I saw the need because of the congestion.”
He is being helped in the fund-raising campaign by his friend, American marathon runner Alex Hancock, who was inspired to help out after meeting Kosgei.
Hancock said: “When I travelled to Kenya for marathon training last year, two things happened. The first was that I learned how the elite Kenyan runners train.
“The second was that I found a whole host of people working to help others in their community. Isaiah Kosgei exemplifies this lifestyle.
“He travels the world winning marathons, then turns around and uses his winnings to pay for school fees and supplies for children who otherwise could not afford them. He helps people in his community in more ways than I can count.”
Kosgei, who has been a frequent participant in the Aberdeen and Hazlehead parkruns and holds the Stonehaven parkrun course record, hopes the north-east running community will help out with the project.
He said: “As part of the fund-raising I am planning to run 21k, a half marathon, from a point to the school on October 18 as we hope to raise all the money we need by the end of the month.
“I want to motivate others to help accomplish my dream by doing 21k or maybe a virtual Loch Ness marathon run that day.”
Kosgei hoped to defend his Loch Ness title but the race, scheduled for tomorrow, has been cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions and will not now be held until next year.
Anyone wishing to contribute to Kosgei’s project can do so by visiting www.gofundme.com/f/kapngetuny-classroom-fund