A Training Day in Kaptagat

It’s not every morning you get out of bed and go for a run, half-expecting to see a world champion or two. Plus, an Olympic silver medalist.

Justin Lagat took me out of Eldoret to Kaptagat township. Just past the town, there’s a dirt road that appears to missing a sign that reads “Watch Out – Olympians at Training.” The lack of a sing might just signal a sense that the people here expect to dominate in the distance events but, for a foreigner, it’s an eye-popping eye-opener when literally some of the best runners in the world rush by.

Rush is my word, not theirs. They were doing easy mileage at a relatively high rate of speed.

After Justin and I got our runs in, Justin doing the out lap, and me pulling the return, we went and visited friends of his. These were all young men still training to break into the running world as paid professionals. As with most individuals dedicated to a specific vision, they work, live, sleep to make that vision a reality.

They live a very Spartan existence, sleeping in small rooms, cooking for themselves on a kerosene stove. Still, they’re remarkably kind, offering the odd American a cup of tea despite the fact they likely don’t have a pair of shillings to rub together.

Twice a day, they go on training runs, except for the days where they add a third run into the mix. These young men certainly understand how to work hard.

Helping them along the way is Wilson Kiprop who sponsors this particular group of young men. It’s not the sort of thing that you see highlighted in his Wikipedia article, but he, along with quite a few other champion runners, work hard to bring opportunities to the next generation. It would be nice if these activities were as celebrated as their athletic achievements.