Runner heeds advice: `keep God in your life'

When David Kimani Mungai left his native Kenya for Farmington, N.M., last year, he intended to heed his mother's counsel: "Keep God in your life."

A year later, the 28-year-old elite distance runner had just finished an 18-mile training run when two Mormon missionaries knocked on his door. "Maybe tomorrow," he responded to their request to visit. "I'm tired. I've been training."That was on a Saturday in March. The following Monday, Elders Hamilton and Landon of the New Mexico Albuquerque Mission returned. They began the missionary discussions with the runner and his trainer, Joseph Nzua, also of Kenya. They are among several Kenyans training in the deserts of New Mexico for major U.S. road runs.

A little more than a month later, on April 26, the two were baptized.

"I never knew who I was [before]. I was having trouble finding truth," Brother Mungai said during a Church News interview. "[Now I'm] changing the old life to a new life."

But he is still running. On July 24, Pioneer Day, David placed 14th overall in the Deseret News/Granite Furniture 10K in Salt Lake City. (The Deseret News publishes the Church News.) He ran among several Kenyans and other elite distance runners. As he blistered along the road into downtown Salt Lake City to finish in 30:08, he later related, he thought of his "new life."

"It was very good to remember the pioneers. It was wonderful for me."

Reflecting back on the changes in his life, he recalled listening to April general conference this year. "It was beautiful. When I looked at the Church leaders, it was like . . . . The Spirit was just there."

He also says the Book of Mormon "clarifies things" relating to gospel questions.

Brother Mungai is currently attending the Farmington Singles Branch.

The winner of this year's Deseret News 10K was John Kariuki of Homewood, Ill., also a native of Kenya, with a time of 27:33. Winning for the women was Jane Omoro of Kenya, who is living in Albuquerque, N.M., in a time of 31:23.

Taking top honors in the 10K wheelchair division was Tom McCurdy in 23:47. More than 2,200 ran in the 10K.

Winning the men's marathon, also sponsored by the Deseret News and Granite Furniture, was Dennis Simonaitis of Salt Lake City, with a time of 2:29:44. Olga Appell of Roy, Utah, won the women's title in 2:47:27. Taking the wheelchair marathon division was Curt Brinkman of Pleasant Grove, Utah, in 1:57:48. More than 900 participated in the marathon.

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