Who is that man, where did he come from and how does he break those world records?
He is 26-year-old Henry Rono of Kenya and Washington State University, and he has astounded the track world like no other recent runner.
Not even Cuba's double gold medal winner Alberto Juantorena, or Edwin Moses of the United States, voted the two top trackmen in the world the last two years, can come close to matching the recent feats of this Kenyan.
Beginning April 8 at a triangular meet in Berkeley, Calif., against California and Arizona State, Rono started a fantastic assault on four world records. Tuesday night in Oslo, Norway, a little more than two months later, Rono completed his assault and the four world records - the 5,000 meters, the 10,000 meters, the 3,000 meters and the 3,000 meter steeplechase - belonged to him.
No runner in the modern era has held more than two universally recognized world records at one time. Rono has four.
Rono is hungry for more records.
Track and Field News Magazine rates every worldclass athlete in every event and from that list picks a track and field athlete of the year. The winner the last two years was Juantorena with Moses the runner-up.
Juantorena is the world's best at the 400 meters and the 800 meters, and was the only runner to rank in the top 15 in three different events, doing it in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, the 400-meter dash and the 110-meter high hurdles.
And then came Rono.
In that April 8 meet in Berkeley, he ran a 13:08.4 5,000 meters, 4.5 seconds lower than the world record. In Seattle on May 13, he ran the steeplechase in 8:05.4, 2.6 seconds better than that world record.
In Vienna on June 11, he churned the 10,000 meters in 27:22.5, taking eight seconds off that record, and finally, on Tuesday, in Oslo, he ran the 3,000 metres in 7:32.1, eclipsing 3.1 seconds from that record.
Rono's style is like no other. At 5-foot-7 and weighs 139 pounds, he doesn't have a sprinter's kick at the finish and he is not overpowering. He runs in spurts.He will run at a steady pace and then all of a sudden blaze through the next 1,000 meters of a race and then resume his original pace after the opposition has been killed off. He seldom changes his facial expression and never looks tired, no matter how fast or how far he runs.
His coach at Washington State, John Chaplin says, "He really doesn't know when he is supposed to get tired."
The fear in Kenya is that Rono will burn himself out at his present pace. Rono says that is nonsense, but Sam Ongeri, chairman of the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association, said after Rono's 3,000-meter record that he should take things easy for a while.
Ongeri said Rono could jeopardize his chances of winning medals for Kenya in the All-Africa Games in Algiers and the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in August if he doesn't scale down his schedule.
Rono, from the Rift Valley in Kenya, is a Nandi, a member of the Kalenjin group, as was the first of the great Kenyan runners. Kipchoge (Kip) Keino.
"I heard of Kipchoge, but I never met him," Rono said.
Rono was an obscure 8:29.0 steeplechaser at the Montreal Olympics, but his fellow Kenyans kept saying he was the star of the future. An ulcer slowed his development until last summer but the track world has belong to Henry Rono since.
Rono's training is varied. At Washington State, under Chaplin, his No. 1 workout is to run the Snake River Canyon. "It's 4.5 miles straight downhill and 4.5 miles straight up again," Chaplin said. "Henry loves it."