Ezekiel's Journey to Iten, Kenya
"When I first visited Iten in December, 2010 it was for a Christmas vacation. I could not image this would be my new home, especially because I am a born Tao (city boy). I was born and raised in the city of Nairobi in Africa's second largest slum of Kibera. I finished college and found employment in the city's outskirts. At that time, Vincent, my friend who I met in Kibera, invited me to visit him in Iten. Vincent was the director of Kibera Sport Development back then. In this context, he was setting up a training camp for the high school scholarship beneficiaries from Kibera. This day, I discovered what makes Iten call itself the "Home of the Champions" and I promptly fell in love.
Iten is a remote town which is located 32k out of Eldoret. Sitting at 2400m above sea level it is the ideal altitude for endurance training. I have never inhaled such fresh air. So natural without any (city-) pollution. Change became inevitable. I liked the fresh heavy air and the silence which was occasionally interrupted by the sounds of footsteps of a runners in elite gear too much to not move out to Iten. Moreover, the very friendly people of Iten as well as reasonable living costs convinced me that joining life in this little town is beautiful.
Another very outstanding thing that I have noticed during my first trip to Iten was that many of the tourists were cohabiting with locals in their homes although Iten has a few guesthouses and hotels where beds are being always offered.
After having finally moved to Iten, I needed to find a job and I was very eager for finding employment where I could contribute to a better Iten and foster the local running community. Sadly, I was struggling to fit in by running alone since it was just impossible for me to keep up with any group of runners here.
However, a creative friend of mine advised me to think about the idea of opening up a running store. Hence, I became the founding Manager of Runnerspoint. This was absolutely one of the best things that ever happened to me. It gave me a sound opportunity to join the local running community - just from another point of view.
Since October, 2014 I am successfully running my own running store as the Sales Manager offering good running gear at reasonable prices"
"Now, as the sole proprietor of Champion Sports Center, it has been my duty to try and understand the running community of Iten. So, when I set up champions barber shop I employed John Erot who is a 19 year old upcoming athlete. It was quite important for me to employ a local athlete in order to - at least financially - foster his career. Particularly for athletes like John who have big difficulties finding employment due to a lack of education, jobs like this are crucial. However, John is unfortunately not a special case among Iten's runners.
Many upcoming athletes are facing similar challenges: Training without proper nutrition, no sounds training facilities and not even a solid training program. I guess it is self-evident how hard it is to prove yourself against elite athletes who are being sponsored by big companies. I can only say that there are bulky amounts of talented runners here in Iten but managers can only pick a few. For the athletes, this means that only the fastest can "survive".
You usually do not see any people - except for tourists - running in Iten just for fun. Iten is famously known as the "Home of Champions" but sometimes I like to believe that it is the pure source of professional runners."
"Many of our local runners come from poor families. Running is their only way out of poverty and I trust that this is one of the many reasons why runners from Kenya are indomitable! Many foreign runners who have done well in international competitions and won big prices have invested in Iten and the adjacent town of Eldoret to inspire and support the upcoming athletes.
The landscape here and altitude offer a perfect foundation for effective training. Iten's endless soft dirt trails are perfect for trail running from 1Mile to 100Miles per run. Green runners also benefit a lot from the experienced athletes who regularly train here. Sometimes, they are privileged enough to find an opportunity to ask for information and advice but often, they copy what they see the professionals doing before they even understand why they are doing it.
For elite atheltes, running in Iten is like diving into a secret society where any small information regarding their training patterns and skills has to stay secret. The threat posed by the upcoming athletes who are ready to dethrone them is just too big."
Running in Iten
"I would totally support the statement that Iten offers ideal holiday opportunities for any type of running enthusiast. Combine the world's finest training location with a unique opportunity to look inside the lives of the greatest runners. Standing at 2400m above sea level makes it being located in an ideal altitude for endurance training. The endless soft dirt trails are perfect for distance running through the Great Rift Valley which holds truly inspirational views as well as scenery. It is also an ideal location if you want to watch, learn and exchange knowledge with some of our 800 elite runners here in Iten. All of them are friendly and very welcoming locals.
Running in Iten for any fun runner is running in the presence of greatness. It will make you appreciate the beauty of nature and why we must protect it."
We hope that this little cleavage of life in Iten made you just as enthusiastic as us about the Kenya Wildlife Marathon and especially, the Iten Pre-Marathon Package experience! This is an opportunity which nobody should fail to do!