To what extent does increasing African women's freedom in one domain, distance running, help to foster other economic, social or political freedoms? This study addresses this question by focusing on the ways in which elite-level female runners in Kenya have influenced the lives of non-athletes who live and work around them locally. Studies of Kenyan running have helped to explain the rationale for elite Kenyan running success; however, this is the first attempt to analyse its impact on the lives of market women for whom running has helped to foster certain economic and social changes. Primary source data obtained from fieldwork during 2010 and 2011 are situated within Amartya Sen's framework of freedom as development and support Sen's critique of the preference framework aspect of social choice theory. The implications of this study contribute to development theory and policy, not only emphasizing the Kenyan case but also offering comments that may apply more generally.