Week 6 Activity Post

The news article that I found asks whether genetics can explain the success of East African distance runners. This article is relevant to this week’s course material because the author is trying to use science to explain an athletic disparity between races. East African runners, or African American runners in general are often some of the best runners in the world. Why do they have so much success against runners from different races? Researchers have been trying to find genetic traits that contribute to their efficient athletic abilities. However, after many years of studies they have not been able to come up with conclusive results. The problem is that there is not a single gene that is responsible for speed in runners. It is a collection of genes and the ways that they interact that make somebody faster than another. This is similar to Leroi’s conclusion that not one single gene can define a race. The article goes on to question whether environmental factors contribute to the success of East African runners. The high altitude where these runner’s trains allows them to acclimate to low oxygen environments. This is an advantage that United States runners would also have if they trained in a city like Denver. Because this is a geographical variable, you cannot conclude that race plays a factor. The last point that the article makes is that the success of East African runners may be due to their motivation. They want to achieve economic success. This would be a cultural trait more than a racial factor. The East African runners often come from some of the poorest countries in the world. If they find success in running events, then they can climb the social ladder and escape poverty. I still believe that there may be something about the genetic makeup of East African runners that contributes to their success, but it may be a while before the secret is discovered.


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