694. Weini Kelati, American Record Holder in the Half Marathon


“As runners, we all deserve to be at the start line — and at the finish line, winning races.”

Last month, Weini Kelati broke the American record in the half marathon, running 1:06:25 in Houston in her debut at the distance. Just a few days later, she ran — and won — the USATF cross-country championships. Weini’s plan was never to be a record-breaking runner, though. Growing up in Eritrea, Weini was accustomed to walking — sometimes running — two hours to get to school each day, six days a week. Running on top of that? No thank you, she told her P.E. teacher. But somehow, she ended up on the school’s track team, and at 17 years old, she was chosen to represent Eritrea at the Junior World Championships in Eugene, OR. The rest, as they say, is history. Weini intentionally missed her flight back home in favor of seeking asylum to stay in the U.S. and pursue a running career. She attended the University of New Mexico, where she became the most-decorated track and field athlete in the program’s history, and she’s been breaking records ever since. Weini lives in Flagstaff, AZ, where she is sponsored by Under Armour and trains with the Dark Sky Distance group.

FOLLOW WEINI @weini_kelati


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What you’ll get on this episode:

  • What’s next on Weini’s racing calendar? (3:40)
  • All about Weini’s childhood (4:30)
  • When — and why — Weini started running in elementary school (10:00)
  • The trip to the U.S. that changed Weini’s life forever (19:00)
  • On acclimating to life in the U.S. (25:45)
  • What it was like for Weini to go eight years without seeing her mother (30:00)
  • Weini’s college experience at the University of New Mexico (41:00)
  • How Weini became a professional runner (45:00)
  • Why Weini wanted to move up to the half-marathon distance (49:00)
  • Weini’s advice for first-time half-marathoners (55:35)

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