Updated 11 October 2007
John Msuri YUDA, Tanzania (5000/10,000/road/cross country)
Born 9 June 1979, Kwapakacha, Kondoa District, Dodoma Region, Tanzania
Height: 1.59m; Weight: 56kg
Former mechanic, apprenticed Dodoma; lives mainly in Dodoma; trains in Iten, Kenya, and Boulder, Colorado; finished primary at Mlimwa Primary Sch., Dodoma.
Native language: Mrangi (same as 1980s marathon great Juma Ikangaa); eldest of two children of father's first of three wives; father a farmer with 15 acres of maize and ground nuts.
Manager: KIMbia Athletics Coach: Dieter Hogen
John Yuda emerged as a world-class runner in a remarkably short time. In the summer of 2000, while men who were to become his rivals were preparing for the Sydney Olympics, Yuda was still a part-time amateur runner, training in the morning before going to work as a mechanic, and repeatedly pleading to be accepted into Tanzania's most elite running club. His first overseas trip was to the 2001 World Cross Country Championships and, six months after that, he was a bronze medallist in the World Half-Marathon. By the end of 2002, he had won medals in major international championships in cross country, road racing and track.
Yuda has invested some of the winnings from his once-prolific racing, mainly in his hometown of Dodoma, where he has bought two cars and a house that he sometimes shares with his wife, Hawa Hussein, an international runner of longer experience than Yuda himself. She was 20th at 4km in the 1998 World Cross and 6th at 5000m in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
Other investments include a football team in the Tanzanian professional league (not doing well at present) and a rudimentary music studio in the running centre of Arusha, where young musicians whom Yuda supports can practise and record. He has also built a two-story commercial establishment in Arusha that opened as a small hotel and tavern in 2004. His musical protégés supply the entertainment.
Yuda began running in primary school, with regional success in 5000m. Later, inspired by radio reports of Kenyan triumphs, he started training in the early mornings before going to work as mechanic. Attaching himself to a local training group, he advanced through regional meets to the 2000 National Championships, finishing 5th at 5000m and 10,000m.
Yuda twice approached Max Iranqhe, the leader of elite, at the residential running club in Arusha, for permission to join and was admitted provisionally in July 2000 to train for Mt. Meru Marathon in August. Finishing 5th (2:20:12), he then joined the club for cross country training. After finishing 25th in the 2001 12km Kenyan Cross Country Championships, Yuda proceeded to the World Cross Country Championships in Ostend, where he placed 14th at 4km and 27th at 12 km.
Signed by KIM management in Ostend, Yuda was then taken around Europe for road races. On successive weekends, he won 10 km races in Poznan and Wurtzburg, then finished 2nd to Rodgers Rop's world best at 25 km in Berlin, recording 1:13:56, then No3 all-time. Moving to the US for a month, Yuda won three road races and, after more road success in Australia, he won the Tanzanian Half Marathon and finished 3rd (60:12) behind Haile Gebrselassie and Tesfaye Jifar in World Half Marathon Championships, in Bristol.
Yuda prepared for the 2002 World Cross Country Championships, in Dublin, with six cross country races in Europe, winning four. In Dublin, he took silver behind Kenenisa Bekele at 12km. Six weeks later, after two road wins and 4th at Stramilano Half-Marathon, he collected his second successive bronze in the World Half Marathon, this time in Brussels behind Paul Kosgei and Jaouad Gharib. He won Tanzanian championship at 10,000m and launched his international track career with a pair of national records in Golden League races (13:03.62 for 5000m in Rome; 27:06.17 for 10,000m in Brussels) and a bronze at 10,000m (27:45.78) in the Manchester Commonwealth Games behind Wilberforce Talel and Kosgei. Yuda closed season with superb Half Marathon PR (60:02), finishing second behind Kosgei in Great North Run.
A series of injuries in 2003 raised questions about Yuda’s heavy schedule (two dozen races) in 2002. Slight injury kept him out of World Cross Country, and after winning Stramilano (60:25) in April, he sustained another injury switching from road to track training. He did not quite regain fitness in time for the World Championships in Paris (12th in 10,000m, 27:56.21) but two weeks later, in Brussels, came within four seconds of PB (27:09.83). Then, in October, he injured a hamstring in the closing stages of World Half Marathon, in Vilamoura, Portugal, and limped across the line in 5th (61:13).
After being involved in devastating car wreck during the 2003 Christmas holidays, but escaping with minor injuries, Yuda embarked on rigorous training for the 2004 London Marathon, skipping cross country altogether. London, billed inaccurately as his marathon debut, went well for 37 km as Yuda shared lead with eventual 1st and 2nd placers Evans Rutto and Sammy Korir at 2:06 pace. But conditions were slippery, and when all three went down in a collision at 23 miles, Yuda suffered the worst of it. The hamstring flared and he limped in 10th in 2:10:13.
A similar fate befell him in the Athens Olympic 10,000m, in which he was tripped, injured a hip, and was forced to drop out. He trained cautiously for the 2004 New York City Marathon and thought himself approaching full fitness but finished a disappointing 15th in 2:18:04.
In 2005 Yuda resumed the furious racing pace of 2002, completing four 10,000m on the track (best 27:33.84 for 10th in Hengelo), two big 10 km road races (5th in World’s Best 10k, San Juan, in PB 28:17; 3rd in Edinburgh in 28:24), a 10 Miler, the Great South Run (1st in 46:55), a couple of cross country and odd distance races, five Half Marathons (most notably, 2nd at Stramilano in 60:25 and 6th at the World Championships in Edmonton in 62:11) and a marathon (a DNF in Seoul).
Perhaps as a result of that punishing schedule, 2006 was comparatively inactive, with a DNF in the Boston Marathon and a lowly 19th in Chicago (2:15:23).
In 2007 however, Yuda once again has been racing as if there’s no tomorrow, almost entirely on the road. He has run, among others, five 10 km races, including 5th place finishes in both the World’s Best (28:38) and Crescent City (28:37) and 3rd in the Beach to Beacon (PB 27:55), two 12 km races (2nd in Spokane in 34:19 and 5th in the Bay to Breakers in 35:20), a 10 miler (2nd in the Cherry Blossom in 46:04), four Half Marathons (including 6th in Ras Al Khaimah in 60:39 behind Samuel Wanjiru’s unratified world record 58:53, and 3rd in Philadelphia in 62:05, just three seconds off the lead) and the grueling Mombasa World Cross Country.
5000m/10,000m/Half Marathon: 2001 - --/--/60:12; 2002 - 13:03.62 NR/ 27:06.17 NR/ 60:02; 2003 - 13:34.81/27:09.83/60:25; 2004 - —; 2005 - --/27:33.84/60:25; 2006 - --; 2007 - --/--/60:39.
5000m: 13:03.62 (2002)
10,000m: 27:06.17 (2002)
10km: 27:55 (2007)
Half Marathon: 1:00.02
Marathon: 2:10:13 (2004).
2001 World Cross Country Championships (14th Short Course; 27th Long Course)
2001 3rd, World Half Marathon Championships
2002 2nd, World Cross Country Championships (Long Course)
2002 3rd, World Half Marathon Championships
2002 3rd, Commonwealth Games 10,000m
2002 2nd, Great North Run Half Marathon
2003 1st, Stramilano Half Marathon
2003 12th, World Championships 10,000m
2003 5th, World Half Marathon Championships
2005 2nd, Stramilano Half Marathon
2005 6th, World Half Marathon Championships
Prepared by John Manners for the IAAF "Focus on Athletes" project. © IAAF 2004-07