Chicago could be a dangerous place for distance runner Wesley Korir – he can’t control himself around pizza.
“I can’t eat just one slice,” said Korir, who won the Boston Marathon two weeks ago with a time of 2:12:40, and just signed on to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October.
“A friend once challenged me to eat two large pizzas with two toppings and I did. I couldn’t stand up for little while,” said Korir, 29, who was born in Kenya but lives in Louisville, Ky.
“I think my coach would not even let me get close to deep dish pizza before a marathon, because he knows I would eat it,” said Korir, who weighs 118 pounds and doesn’t keep tabs on calories because his body burns them faster than he can swallow.
“I ate an entire Giordano’s sausage and pepperoni deep dish after my last marathon in Chicago … but the night before I race I always eat a tuna sandwich from Subway. If I ate pizza, my body would shut down.”
Korir, who’s in the process of becoming an American citizen, placed second in last year’s Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:06:15, 38 seconds behind fellow Kenyan Moses Mosop, who set a course record.
His choice of racing fuel affects a slew of people: His wife, Tarah, and 20-month-old daughter, McKayla, who live in a small house in Kentucky, and the people back home he wants to see live better lives.
“Most of my [winnings] go to helping people back in Kenya. I’m currently paying for 40 kids to go to high school,” said Korir, who’s also involved with the construction of a nearly completed hospital near his village.
“The hospital might have saved my brother’s life,” said Korir.
His younger brother, Eliud, died in 1992 at the age of 10 after he was bitten by a black mamba snake inside their home. “My mom had to carry him on her back to the nearest road and wait for public transportation. He died in her arms,” said Korir. “We were really close.”
“When I’m running, I think about my wife and daughter and the people in Kenya. If I run good, it means more people get to go to school,” said Korir.
The winner of the Chicago Marathon gets $100,000. Second place gets $50,000.
The money could buy a lot of education in Kenya. And a pizza or two in Chicago.