A Kenyan man is running in Sunday’s Toronto Waterfront Marathon after giving up his gun for a pair of running shoes.

Julius Arile had a gun in his hand by the time he turned 13, using it as a cattle rustler in Kenya. Only a few years later, he started to use the gun to go on raids against nearby communities.

“As you are growing up you are using it to look after our cattle,” Arile told CTV Toronto.” When you reach 15 or 16, that’s where you start to go out to raid.”

Arile never had a reason to run as a cattle rustler and running during a raid meant that he was either being chased or he was chasing somebody else. A close call during a raid involving the death of his friend made him think twice about his gun.

“My friend was shot dead beside me and I decided to leave that gun because I remembered that if my friend died, who will die next? It’s likely me,” said Arile.

Arile then took advantage of a Kenyan program that allows men to trade their guns in for running shoes and amnesty. His first race, a 10-kilometre peace run, saw him running against men he’d previously been at war with.

Arile won the race, winning about $300, and hasn’t turned back since. Since his first race, he has run in races all over the world, including a fourth-place finish in the New York Marathon.

“I didn’t quarrel with somebody, I didn’t fight. Just running,” said Arile. “I will not go back again, my run started then.”

His decision to turn in his gun for a pair of running shoes also made him one of the stars of the documentary Gun Runners by Montreal native Anjali Nayar. The movie features Arile and Robert Matanda, who prove that the program is successful in getting young Kenyan men away from guns.

Arile says he wants to take the movie back to Kenya and show it to his community in the hopes that he can challenge other young men to turn in their guns for running shoes too.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Scott Lightfoot