Jake and Zane Robertson, the twins who moved from New Zealand to Kenya at the age of 17 are now the fastest twins over the half marathon distance. Zane captured the New Zealand and Oceania Record at the 2015 Marugame Half in 2015 when he clocked a 59:47 and over the weekend Jake recorded a 60:00 to win the Lisbon Half for his debut at the distance.
It’s been 10 years since the Kiwi duo moved from New Zealand to Africa. Without cell phones, much money or sponsorsship, the two brothers have spent years grinding alongside many of the worlds best runners, over dirt roads, cinder tracks and thin air.
For those who don’t know the story about the two from Hamilton, NZ, here’s a brief recap: The brothers were obsessed with the sport since their youth, as many of us are..except this was different. They both knew everything and anything about the East African runners. They were obsessed with specifics right down to their height and weight. In 2006, Jake was able to have his first in-person rendezvous with a few of the Kenyans when he qualified to race at the World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. He mentioned the idea of moving to Kenya to train and the Kenyans urged them to.
After digging into the archives a bit, for results from dating back to 2007, it looks as though Jake had a 5,000m time of 14:28 at the age of 16. Zane had a similar personal best.
Currently, the twins are now 27 years old with the following personal bests:
Zane might show the greater range than his brother, but they both are a force over the half marathon distance. Zane’s 1/2 PR stems from a narrow second place at the 2015 Marugame Half Marathon and Jake has nipped at the heels of sub-60 this past weekend in Portugal. This easily ranks them as the fastest twins in the distance of all time. (Obviously, let’s be real and recognize that finding twins to do this all is an outlier and that’s what truly makes the Robertsons special.) Zane is only the fourth non-African to run sub-60 for 13.1 miles and for about 10 miles of Sunday’s Lisbon Half, Jake was on pace to break Zane’s national record.
Although Jake’s time in Lisbon was a phenomenal debut it still only ranks him as 36th all-time..on that course. It’s the 27th year of the race and yet it’s a wild stat that not many half-marathons can boast.
The two brothers remain very supportive of each other and still train a good amount together. I once read that Zane splits time with an Ethiopian training group and then heads back to Iten at times to live in a house next to Jake. The two are never ones to settle down, and have coined the phrase “Heavy In Da Game.” Their marathon debut in 2017 has not been ruled out.
In their start in Kenya, the Robertsons fought malaria, slept on a cement floor and struggled to adjust to life. The likes of Steeplechase kings, Patrick Sang and Saif Saaeed Shaheed aided in the housing the two at first and served as mentors as well. It appears that they may have received some sort of sponsorship backing now.
Zane and Jake Robertson are both 3-4 on the all time New Zealand 5000m list, 1-4 over 10000m and 1-2 for the half marathon.
If you’ve got 28 minutes, watch the video above and it’ll show you that hard work truly pays off, some insights on Kenya and how the risk was worth the reward for the two Robertson twins from Hamilton.