Wednesday, 23 March 2011

St Patricks Celebrations

I’ve been in Kenya for two weeks now and in terms of training I feel like things are slotting into place well. I have been carrying a few niggling injuries over the past few weeks but being hear has allowed me to manage them better, with regular treatment and additional rest between training. The running itself has been a bit more unusual compared with my first trip in January, in that we have had quite a bit of rain last week, fortunately it didn’t disrupted training, although I did find myself a little low on clean training kit at times. There were also a lot less Kenyan’s out training first thing in the morning too… they don’t like the cold or the rain, so they often wait for it to clear up for going out running.

I have been running most of my day to day steady runs with the other British runners who out hear which includes Andy Baddeley, Mike Skinner, Ben Whitby, Mark Draper & Tom Bedford who are all part of the same training group back home. Whilst they have different immediate terms goals to me we have started most easy or steady runs together which has been good.

In terms for my key training sessions these have been on my own mostly with my a good 30k tempo run on on Friday, using and out and back route along a road called Kaptuli, a short 20mins drive from the training centre. Whilst still being offroad it provided me with slightly flatter route than the options directly around the centre. I ran the run solo but did have Barnabus, a local Kenyan who works for Lorna & Pieter as a driver and general worker at the centre following me in car. He drove behind me in a 4x4 and pulled alongside me every 5k to provide drinks. He certainly needed the 4x4 too, as with the overnight rain we encountered a few tricky muddy patches along the route. It was a good session for me though and confirmed to me that my fitness is good and that I’ve managed to acclimatization to the altitude as much as I would have hoped for. It was arguably one of the hardest workouts I’ve done too with the high altitude and an undulated route a tough combination on what was my longest marathon tempo run to date. More recently I joined the other guys for a track workout yesterday. We drove to Eldoret Univeristy track on this occasion as we had heard it was a better surface than the Iten track. I thought Iten track was busy with some 80+ Kenyan distance runners on there last week, however this was something else with some 120+ using the Univeristy, there seemed bearing enough of a gap between training groups to slot in to do our session, however once we got going we seemed to fit nicely around the various moving trains around the track. There were a number of Kenya’s better know athletes training that morning with Eluid Kipchoge (5000m Pb 12.43) on track, unsurprisingly he was not even at the front of his training group (of some 30-40runners).

Outside of training I have been lucky enough to time my training trip with the 50th Anniversary of the St Patrick High School here in Iten. For those who read my blog entries back in January you may remember me writing about the School. It’s one of Kenya’s most famous, particular in terms of running, some 30plus Olympic runners having attended the school, there is a tree planted and marked for each athlete within the school grounds.

The anniversary took place on Saturday and was attended by thousands of locals as well as many famous past students and religious and politicial leaders, with the current Prime Minister Raila Odinga being one of those. We didn’t stay long enough to see any of the athletes who were reportedly also attending but I did pick myself up a programme which included the school athletics records…the school record for the 800m is 1.43.64 and the 1500m record is 3.33.24, so not to shabby for a secondary school. It’s worth noting though that some Kenya’s don’t attend secondary school at the same ages as we do. They will often take a couple of years out between primary and secondary school to work so they have the money to attend as the like of St Patrick’s, which is a boarding school. That said both athletes in question (Japheth Kimatui and William Chirchir) were both 18 when they ran those times. Whilst we did not stay for the full celebrations it was a privilege to attend and clearly a big deal for local people and those who run the school, so something to tell the grand kids about. Next week are hoping to go into one of the classes during lesson time which should be fun, apparently the kids love to see Mzunga’s!

Sorry about the lack of pictures in my blog posts, I wanted to include some additional pictures but the internet isn't great here and I couldnt manage to add them, so I will have to post them up on my return home.


andy_bee said...

Hi. Sounds like a great trip and an amazing experience. I am not Kenyan (I am from Congleton in Cheshire) but I don't like the cold or the rain either !

In fact I have a holiday in Guernsey in June so if you see a wheezing old bloke staggering round the island please wave or maybe point me to a pub.
Sent here via H Clitheroe tweet. Good recommendation.

Lee Merrien said...

THanks Andy, well there are no shortage of pubs in Guernsey so you'll be ok on that front! There's also a half marathon on Fathers day (mid June i think) so that might also be to your liking too.

Thanks for your comment and enjoy Guernsey!