Toby Tanser’s Philanthropic and Athletic Bio at a Glance
Earlier in his competitive career, Toby Tanser spent over two decades training and competing around the world. Such experiences gave him both a wealth of knowledge as well as unique methods of training and coaching. He is the head coach of the New York Flyers as well as the head coach of the Manhattan State University and Fashion Institute cross country team. He has stepped down from the Team Lifeline (an international charity group) so he could focus on his own Shoe4Africa runners team.
Toby also initiated and tailored a running program for Fortune House, helping reformed prisoners of New York Prison. He also appeared as a guest on TV shows, webcasts, and radio shows. As if that were not enough, he also gives lectures and helps as a guest coach in several other organizations including the New York Marathon, Land Rover, Runners World, ING Direct (a sponsor of Shoe4Africa), and is an ambassador for Subway.
Toby’s official last competitive race was the NYC Marathon, which he completed with Sarah Jones, a Tony Award-winner and Tegla Loroupe, a previous world record holder, to raise awareness and money for Toby’s non-profit organization, Shoe4Africa. His best running distance was the 5km run, which he finished in 13 minutes 50 seconds. He also won numerous worldwide events and US National Championships for the 1500m–event and marathons, not only in track but also in cross country.
Authoring “Train Hard Win Easy” and “More Fire: How to Run and Train the Kenyan Way”
For the last 15 years, Toby has thrown all of his time and energy now behind supporting Shoe4Africa. In fact, his latest book, “More Fire,” has all its royalties being donated to his association in an effort to fund building of a children’s hospital in Kenya. The first book Toby wrote was called “Train Hard Win Easy,” which became an instant bestseller across 17 countries. As a writer he also penned “The Essential Guide to Running the New York City Marathon.” He is a columnist for The Daily Nation which is East Africa’s largest newspaper and for the American Sports and American running magazines.
Racing to Raise Funds
Toby’s love for running and racing has elevated him to become race director in America, Morocco, Iceland, Tanzania, and Kenya. He sees them as another way to promote his Shoe4Africa movement. The Shoe4Africa women’s races in Kenya and Tanzania are the largest single women’s–only events in the African continent. In New York, he annually race directs the Hope & Possibility 5–miler where celebrities from The Soprano’s, Young Guns, ER, as well as politicians in 2010 were seen. Toby and his not for profit organization Shoe4Africa had Prince Harry of England run in New York.
Another running goal Toby hopes to accomplish once more is to run in the event called Sea to the Stars; this is an ultra-marathon run which requires running from the African tropical Ocean, running over land, throughout wild game parks, all the way to the top of Antarctic–like Kilimanjaro. The concept behind the event is, “The peak is not the end of the journey, touching the stars will start breaking ground to build the first public children’s hospital in Sub Saharan Africa.” Toby hopes to do this again to raise awareness for his Shoe4Africa nonprofit organization.
Awards besides Shoe4Africa Achievements
For his charity work with Shoe4Africa, Toby received the prestigious Runner’s World Heroes Award in 2008. He was also ordained as a Nandi Elder in Kenya which is extremely rare for foreigners as it is the Africans highest tribal honor. In 2000, Toby also received the Elite Comeback Award after completing the NYC Marathon in 35th place only months after brain surgery.
A funny fact is that Toby, true to his uniqueness, also holds a most obscure world record being the fastest man to run 10km wearing a kilt. In addition to this record, he also holds a Guinness Book record for being one of the team members who pushed an eight ton truck over three hundred miles during the speedy fastest hand pushed truck lap at the British Gran Prix at Silverstone racing track. Ok they might sound strange but it’s still an interesting biographical fact.
As you can see, not only is Toby an incredible athlete, coach, and accomplished author; he is also a man of great compassion and he is using his gift to make the world a better place. He is extraordinary and we could all learn from his favorite credo: “Why not!”
Joining Coaches Advisory Board of Runner’s World
In January 2008, Toby was offered a seat in the Runner's World's Coaches Advisory Board which he eagerly accepted. He has since then served as one of its advisers apart from writing for its website every now and then. Toby Tanser seems to find some satisfaction not only in authoring books but also in writing articles. As a matter of fact, aside from writing freelance for Runner's World, Toby also had his works published in Running Times, Metrosports, Daily Nation, Primera Hora, Running, and NY Runner according to his LinkedIn profile. He's also published some articles for newspapers and magazines in the running industry.
- 1995: Founded Shoe4Africa in Eldoret, Kenya. Sending shoes to Kenyan athletes.
- 1998: One of the athletes receiving shoes wins a Commonwealth Games medal
- 1999: Shoe4Africa starts to support more runners in Tanzania.
- 2001: First pair of shoes given to a young boy, named Fabiano Joseph, also Francis Naali runs a race and receives shoes at the Shoe4Africa Tanzania sponsored race.
- 2002: Francis Naali wins a Gold Medal at the Commonwealth Games.
- 2005: Fabiano Joseph wins Gold at the World Half Marathon Championship.
- 2005: Pieter Langerhorst and Lornah Kiplagat join and throw their support behind the movement.
- 2006: The first Shoe4Africa race is held in Kenya, the biggest and women's only event in the country with over 1550 runners. Shoe4Africa registers as a Not for Profit Organisation in New York and holds a race in Nyamira.
- 2006: Shoe4Africa sponsor two school girls with an athletic scholarship Farida Makula, and Asia Swahele. Farida wins Gold at the nationals for 1500 & 5000m. Asia wins a silver medal in the 15km running event. Joy Dushey, the Vice President of Shoe4Africa, celebrates the NGO status with a party in her apartment; over 300-people attend the party, 90% bringing at least one pair of shoes to support the movement! Samantha Tannehill, Chanel Model promotes the movement by modeling the new Shoe4Africa singlet. Kim Alexis another supermodel joins the Board at Shoe4Africa. Leppin decides to offer financial support to Shoe4Africa in 2007.
- 2006: The second Shoe4Africa race in Kenya has 2,900 runners racing.
- 2007: The Shoe4Africa opens the Moses Kiptanui Training Camp as well as founded The Shoe4Africa United Football team. PK Running Store in Holland becomes the Official Dutch Running Store to Support Shoe4Africa. Shoe4Africa begins to promote its first HIV/AIDS awareness, leaflet translated into the local Kalenjin Language. Willy Komen, a runner of the Shoe4Africa Moses Kiptanui training camp, wins Steeplechase Gold at the All Africa Championships. Shoe4Africa also establishes The Kibera Project.
- 2007: Grete Waitz becomes part of Shoe4Africa, and launched its Kibera Project. In seven hours Shoe4Africa collected nearly 10,000 shoes to help support the Shoe4Africa Kibera project. United Arab Emirates supports Shoe4Africa.
- 2008: Shoe4Africa Dubai collects 6,983 pairs of shoes at the Dubai Marathon; the movement gets written and published by Athletics Weekly. Latter in 2008 a Shoe4Africa Peace Run is held, 42 International stars coming together showing their support for the cause.
- 2008: The Shoe4Africa Martin Lel race was filmed by CNN. The Shoe4Africa Eldoret Run for Peace Race was held at Kenya's largest refugee camp. Shoe4Africa formally launched their hospital project. A tree planting ceremony taking place at the site of the goal for a $15,000,000 USD Shoe4Africa Children's Hospital, after a sizable donation was received from Iceland. Shoe4Africa received an article write up in the Editor's page of Runner's World. Steven Spielberg donates $125,000. Anthony Edwards from the ER TV Series donates $125,000.
- 2008: The book 'More Fire' was written and released with the sole intention of raising public awareness for Shoe4Africa. 100% of the books royalties went directly to building of the Shoe4Africa Hospital.
- 2008: The Shoe4Africa 5000m Peace registers 5000+ women in Africa's largest slum. 5,800 T-shirts and 6,400 pairs of shoes are given to runners and supporters on the day.
- 2009: Toby was honored as a 'Nandi Elder’; Donovan Bailey also joins Shoe4Africa as an Ambassador! Another fundraiser is held in New York, attended by Billie Jean King, Ilana Kloss, Sarah Jones, and Morley. Shoe4Africa registers to be a non-profit organisation in Kenya
- 2009: The Shoe4Africa Deaf & Disabled Run is held. Mark Webber donates 1000-sterling; donations also start to flow in from Natalie Portman, Ed Norton, Michael Stipe and Rosario Dawson. The Shoe4Africa team also participated in the NYC Marathon raising funds for the Hospital Campaign.
- 2010: Shoe4Africa televised across Kenya and promoted as "Shoe4Africa has become a powerful agent for change." at Kenyan National Television Station. Two times World Champion, Olympic Silver, and the winner of the London, Tokyo and the New York City Marathon, Liz McColgan joins to run as part of the Shoe4Africa's marathon team, so does German Silva.
- 2010: The Shoe4Africa begins building the Martin Lel primary school, to support this African comics donate 30-cents for every comic book they sell in Kenya to the cause. Designer THUY launches her Shoe4Africa RUNNING TO RUNWAY program and donates a percentage of sales to the Hospital building Campaign. To date $700,000 has been raised in funds with no staff, business plan, all in under two years from an initial idea.
- 2012: As of spring 2012 Shoe4Africa has raised over $1.3-million toward the building of the hospital.