Cooper River Bridge Run winner ready to defend his title

Updated: Mar. 31, 2016 at 12:05 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Only days away from the Cooper River Bridge Run and some of the event's top racers are arriving in the Lowcountry.

Elite runner Dominic Ondoro took home the $10,000 prize for first place last year and is back for another year, ready to defend his title.

"I will do my best to win," Ondoro said on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old Kenyan athlete finished first overall in 2015 with a time of 29:21.

He's on a strict schedule of sleeping and short runs before Saturday's race but took time to show his host family how to make ugali, a native dish he eats during training.

"Ugali is a kind of Kenyan food," Ondoro said. "It's usually made with maize flour and water."

Some running experts have called ugali "a running super food."

But Ondoro said it's his training that makes the difference when competing against other elites on the bridge.

"They have a hard profession, running every day, picking races" Janice Newton, Bridge Run elites coordinator, said. "Some don't speak English….they have rigid schedules, it's like an Olympic athlete."

It's a routine that Ondoro's host family, Ray and Josephine Hauck, have seen firsthand since his stay.

"It's a completely different lifestyle," Ray Hauck said. Hauck himself is a running coach affiliated with Charleston Running Club. "Basically, the old adage, eat sleep and run."

According to race officials, the 2016 elites come from countries ranging from Ethiopia to Kenya to Russia—as well as the U.S. Officials said 43 men and about 25 women will compete in the elite category on race day.

"It's such an exciting day, when the gun goes off," Newton said, "seeing the human body running at that speed. It's such a beautiful sight."

But Ondoro said it's the sight of people cheering on the sidelines that he'll be waiting for. He'll be wearing race bib #1 since he won the 2015 race.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. All rights reserved.