Sammy Rotich’s Running Story

Man running near park

The next time you’re at a race in Minnesota or Iowa, be on the lookout for star athlete Sammy Rotich. If you see him at the starting line, you can be assured that he’s traveled further than you to get there. A professional long-distance runner from Eldoret, Kenya, Rotich uprooted his life to move to the suburbs of Minneapolis to train. He runs to make a living, and his racing helps him provide money for his family in Kenya.

“It’s always difficult to be away from home,” Rotich says. “But it’s my job. It’s what I have to do.”

Early Life
Sammy’s running routine was formed at an early age. At only six years old, he began running the two miles to school each day. The school began at 8 AM, and the consequences for being late were either five laps around the track or being whacked by a cane. When Sammy was late, he chose to run laps. He would also run home for lunch and then back to school, even though there often wasn’t any food at home.

When he turned 10, Sammy expanded his routine by adding milk delivery to his after-school activities. He and his cousin would each carry ten liters of milk for six miles until they reached the tea factory, and then they would run back home. Rotich also built strength by helping out with chores around the farm. He studied hard, ran whenever he could, and continued to win some local races.

Things changed once Sammy reached secondary school. His parents couldn’t afford the school fees for both him and his sister, so Sammy volunteered to stay home so his sister could continue her schooling.

A Chance Encounter
Upon leaving secondary school, Rotich was stuck at home, unsure about his future. But then came a twist in his story. A doctor walked past Sammy’s home and questioned him regarding why he wasn’t in school. Sammy explained his predicament, and the doctor asked Sammy what he wanted to do.

Sammy replied, “I want to run.”

With the doctor’s financial assistance, Sammy was able to buy some food, a pair of running shoes, and a mattress. He rented a spartan room near a training camp in Kapsabet that was sponsored by Nike. At the camp, Sammy trained non-stop alongside world-class runners. His routine was a continuous cycle of eating, training, and resting, with Sundays being the only full day that the athletes had to recover.

Catching Attention
Sammy’s success at the training camp began catching people’s attention, and he was soon invited by a Canadian agent to race in Malaysia in 2008. At the race, Rotich lowered his 10K PR to 28:16. In 2009, Sammy caught the attention of an agent in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who helped him obtain a visa. At a Warrior Edge Athletics clinic in 2015 with former world record holder (and fellow Kenyan) Wilson Kipsang, Rotich met Sanna Lee, who agreed to represent and work with him when he came to Minnesota in March of 2016.

Rotich has been training and racing in the United States since then, and the money he wins from the races is enough to pay for his siblings to receive an education back home. Sammy focuses very intently on his training because he isn’t just racing for fun. Being responsible for financially supporting his family means he takes his training very seriously.
Rotich’s Training Routine
Sammy typically begins his training routine early in the morning, around 6 AM. He runs between 10 and 15 miles each day and then spends the rest of the day recovering from the long run. The evening brings more training, this time with shorter distances. Rotich takes plenty of time to rest and refuel with nutritious meals in between workouts.

An Iconic Athlete and FitSok Ambassador
Now a renowned half-marathon specialist, Rotich has won the Lincoln Half-Marathon seven times. Recently, in February of 2022, Rotich won the Austin Marathon in a race against 4,300 other runners. This was an impressive feat for Rotich, who had only previously run four full marathons.

Rotich has also been a FitSok ambassador for a few years now. He was introduced to FitSok after he began working with Warrior Edge.

“After I started wearing FitSok, I have noticed that my feet are comfortable during training and races,” he says. “They are very nice socks. They don’t hurt my toenails, they hold my feet, and they’re not too hot.”

“I like the socks very, very much,” he continues.

So take it from Sammy and try out a pair of our running socks today. We’re proud to help Sammy Run For It, and we can’t wait to be part of your journey, too.