Training at Kaptagat, by Justin Lagat, note by Larry Eder

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Cheruiyot_Vivian5KQ-OlyGames12.jpg
Vivan Cheruiyot, London 2012 5,000 meters, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

Kiprotich_StephenFV1-OlyGames12.jpg
Stephen Kiprotich, London 2012 Marathon champion, 
photo by PhotoRun.net


Justin Lagat, our correspondent in Kenya, wrote this column a couple of weeks ago about one of the top training camp sites in Kenya. Both Stephen Kiprotich and Vivian Cheruiyot train there, among the other top Kenyan and Ugandan distance celebrities. Will Kaptagat become the next Eldoret? 


TRAINING AT KAPTAGAT


Having trained for over six years at various places here in the Rift Valley, for an average of one year at every place, I feel that I can comprehensively name the best place to train, but only if I first know the preference of an individual wishing to train. I have trained at Kapsait in Marakwet, Kapseret and Eldoret town in Uasin Gishu, Mosoriot and Nandi hills in Nandi, Iten, and now at Kaptagat in Keiyo. Different athletes have varied views regarding the best place to train here in Kenya.


Kaptagat, located about 16 kilometers East of Eldoret town, at an altitude of 2400m, is one of the best places to train and scores of athletes blaze the trails here each morning, especially at the famous Kaptagat forest. Some are natives, others rent houses around the shopping centers  here namely Strawbag, Kaptagat, Chop and Chirchir centers, while others reside in training camps  that include Ricky Sim's Pace Management, Dr. Rosa and Associate's training camp that was opened last year, The Global Sports Camp, Complete Sports Athletics Training Camp and Chepkero Athletics Club, among others.


The highest number of individual athletes lives in Strawbag, where I also rent my house close to Leornard Komon's, the 10km and 15km world record holder and other bigwigs that include Sammy Kitwara, the fifth fastest half marathoner in history and Kenneth Kipkemboi, the reigning 10,000m African champion. But, although we all live close to each other, there are different training groups and each athlete is free to choose which one to join every morning.


One advantage of this place is that during a rainy season, it is still possible to train on some of the rough roads here any time, just like in Kapsait and Nandi Hills. This is almost impossible in the other places where athletes would have to travel to other destinations for their runs or wait for the ground to dry up. Here, even if you may not be sure of the right roads to use on this occasion, there is always a less busy tarmac road across the centers always in handy as another option to ensure that you will never find any excuse to miss your training.


Nobody paints a more vivid picture about Kaptagat being the best place to train than Stanley Kirwa, the winner of Pinang Bridge half marathon, among other road races in Asia. He has in the past trained in Nyahururu, Iten, Kapsabet and Kiganjo since 2001.  But, the moment he came to train here in 2009, he found it an ideal place and now says that he is not thinking of going anywhere else in the future, in fact, he is planning to buy a piece of land and live here indefinitely .


"The best thing about Strawbag (Kaptagat) is that you can easily move to a lower altitude for speed works as it is nearer to Eldoret where one can go for track workouts, while at the same time, it also offers the best altitude training when you move up a little from here (towards the East)", says the athlete, adding that the roads here are also a bit soft compared to the ones he had been using in Nyahururu and thinks that one rarely gets an injury while training in Kaptagat.


Because of lack of enough houses here, most athletes prefer to live in Eldoret town and drive up here for their morning runs every day, although, this happens mostly with the well established athletes who have enough money and private vehicles to daily drive to and fro. Most of the time, I find a private bus belonging to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) training camp parked somewhere around Kaptagat forest. The IOC camp itself is located close to Eldoret town.


Kaptagat is perhaps the second biggest source of international athletes, after Iten. Some athletes who are training here include Stephen Kiprotich, this year's Olympic gold medalist from Uganda, Moses Kipsiro (Uganda), Emanuel Mutai, Micah Kogo, Vivian Cheruiyot, Hellen Obiri, Leornard Komon, Mark Kiptoo, Abraham chepkirwok (Uganda), Joseph Ebuya and Job Kinyor; the list is endless. Also, there are the others who live in Eldoret, but frequent here, like Asbel Kiprop.


If only there were enough houses, Kaptagat would certainly have emerged as the world's leading destination for runners to train. But, looking into the future, the popularity of Kaptagat will continue to rise rapidly. Many elite athletes right now continue to shift their training bases here.

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