KENYA has been harvesting world-class runners for almost a quarter of a century at a training camp on the edge of a small town in the Kenyan Highlands.
The camp, where Eliud Kipchoge still trains up to 200km a week, is flanked by farms where cows and sheep freely roam.
It is basic but rich in passion and enthusiasm thanks to the 30 or so athletes who regularly train there. And little has changed over the years.
“In 2002 we had no running water and used to get our water from a nearby well,” said Eliud. “But now we have running water and solar panels for heating.”
Athletes spend the weekends at home with their families before returning to the Global Sports Communication training camp in Kaptagat on a Monday evening.
“The camp is like a second home to the athletes,” said Eliud’s coach Patrick Sang.
For Eliud, who started training there 17 years ago, it’s the simplicity of life in camp he loves.
“It is free of distractions,” he said.
One main building houses the male endurance runners, who sleep two to a room.
A second building includes the women’s dormitories plus the TV room and physio room.
There’s also a small kitchen and a dining area.
Athletes often relax on the lawn in front of the main building – a space which also acts as a temporary training area for twice weekly core stability exercises.
All the athletes are expected to do basic training at home since the main purpose of camp life is to rack up the training miles.
“When the athletes are in the camp they also get all those technical skills and medical support which they don’t have at home,” said Patrick.
Over the years Eliud has become a source of inspiration to his fellow athletes.
“Everyone wants to run like him,” said Geoffrey Kamworor, the three-time World Half Marathon champion, world record holder on the half marathon and winner of the 2017 New York City Marathon. “We always try to follow him, to do what he is doing and be with him towards the last parts of the training run.”
The community of Kaptagat has also grown economically because of Eliud’s presence.
“Kaptagat now attracts so many athletes who come here to train and that has a knock-on effect on the economy,” said Patrick.
“That’s why we say Eliud is more than an athlete. He is an inspiration in all aspects of life.”