“Kwenda mbio siyo kufika” is an old Swahili proverb that literally translates to “To run is not necessarily to arrive.” Swahili is the language spoken by Florida Tech’s Moses Kirui. Hailing from Eldoret, Kenya, “to run” has been his only option to reach his goals. Through his hard work and perseverance, he has “arrived” at Florida Tech.
Kirui’s path toward becoming a Panther has been anything but straightforward. After graduating from Meteitei Secondary School in Kenya, Kirui’s wish was to study abroad. Thanks to his running ability, he earned a scholarship to study at New Mexico Highlands where he instantly made a name for himself by twice being named to the All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Cross Country Team. In the end though, his passion for engineering brought him to Florida Tech.
“I always wanted to study abroad,” Kirui said. “So I ran to achieve my goal. I ran hard, fought for it and sometimes struggled to Kirui Reaches for the Sky with his Feet on the Ground Kenyan cross country star is making his presence felt while achieving his academic dream at FIT Panther Athletics The official website of Florida Tech Athletics achieve it until it finally came true.”
Once on campus, the softspoken aerospace engineering major became a force to be reckoned with on the cross country scene. He breezed through the Sunshine State Conference Championship, winning the 8K race a full eight seconds faster than his closest rival at 25:46.60. He followed that up with a spectacular victory at the NCAA Division II South Region Championship where he turned in a time of 32:00 in the 10K event. His time was 11 seconds faster than the runner up. In total, he amassed five top-10 finishes in eight events in fall 2011. He was named SSC Male Runner of the Year and United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association South Region Male Athlete of the Year. He capped the season by becoming the first FIT male runner in recent memory to participate in the NCAA Division II National Championship race.
Though his immense talent has been on display on the cross country trail, his main focus has never strayed away from his studies. His passion for running is clear, but his goals in life are away from the sport and in the sky.
“Running has always been a part of my life,” he said. “In Kenya, running is like a tradition. It’s like football here. A lot of my achievements have been because of my running ability, but my dream has always been to create something that can fly through the air with the same ease that I run. My real goal in life is to become an aerospace engineer.”
FIT head cross country coach Pete Mazzone, who is a father figure to Kirui, echoes this sentiment and only foresees good things coming his way. “He is the epitome of what a student-athlete really means,” he said. “He’s got an incredible work ethic and determination. He prides himself in his studies and athletic accomplishments. He knows the importance of an education and has seized the opportunity that life has given him. He’s going to be a special person.”
With only one year of eligibility left, Kirui is nearing the finish line of his Panther athletic career. In the end, his biggest triumph might not come in a race, but in something more important … life.
Hector Severeyn, Graduate Assistant