Kenya’s Erick Mose wins the Asics Los Angeles Marathon on March 17th. Photo: AP.

While many top Kenyan distance runners train at home to prepare for big international races, Erick Mose took a different tact in winning the recent Asics Los Angeles Marathon in southern California.

The 26-year-old Mose set a personal best of 2:09:44, breaking away in the final two miles from his friend Julius Keter, the grandson of Kenyan Olympic legend Kip Keino. Keter was runner-up in 2:10:31.

In a post-race interview with VOA reporter Nnamdi Moweta, Mose credited his high altitude training in the mountains of Mexico for his victory.

He said he’s been living for almost the past four years in Toluca, about 60 kilometers west-southwest of Mexico City.

“I’m training in Mexico because the altitude is almost the same as Kenya,” says Mose. “It was difficult when I first entered Mexico, because I wasn’t speaking Spanish, but now I speak Spanish.”

Mountain area in Toluca, Mexico

Mose says more than 30 Kenyans live in Toluca, and while he’s adjusted to Mexican culture, “I focus only on races and training.”

The Kenyan athlete says he likes Mexico’s proximity to the United States, which has numerous big city marathons that offer prize money.

Mose says he’s planning to run another marathon in June or July, and he hopes to lower his personal best to 2:07 or 2:08.

While Mose endorses Mexico as a place for other Kenyan marathoners to train, he does miss his friends and family back home in Kenya.

He says he plans to use the $25,000 first place prize in Los Angeles to build a home for his parents in the Nairobi area.