This is the weekly column from Justin Lagat. Justin Lagat is the senior writer for RunBlogRun in Kenya. He has been writing for us since 2013. I learn something new from Justin each column. The idea is to bring the world together.
Every Olympic year means booming businesses around Iten, Kenya:
From the hotels around, the shops, the physiotherapists, the pacesetters and running guides, the fruit vendors, the barbershops and salons, among many other businesses, the region around Iten always feels the impact of an Olympic year almost like a host city. The only difference is that the boom happens in Iten after every four years.
Besides the Kenyan runners, there is a high number of foreign runners currently training in Iten, Eldoret, Kapsabet and other parts of Kenya ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games in August. Some of the developing talents here in Kenya have even had to put aside their ambitions for a while in order to earn some money as pacesetters for the huge influx of the international runners currently training around here.
A friend who lives in Iten told me that businesses are booming there. He gave me an example of one prominent runner who he often comes across training in a company of ten to fifteen local pacesetters that he pays daily at the end of each day.
Some foreign runners are here to intensify their training in order to attain the Olympic qualification times given that they may be the only runners in their respective countries who will have made the times and hence a chance to run at the Olympic Games. Others want to be in their best form to be able to earn medals for their nations during the games.
Mo Farah, the multiple Olympic and world champion is back in Iten, perhaps after the last few years he had changed his training base to a different country failed to give him the same results he had been getting while he trained in Kenya before.
Francine Niyonsaba, the two times 800m world indoor champion as well as Olympic and world silver medalist finished sixth at the most competitive Nike Discovery Cross Country event in Eldoret over the weekend. This was the women’s 10km senior race which might be an indication that the runner will be aiming to represent her country in the long-distance track events after the World Athletics required women in the 400m to 1500m distances to have a certain level of natural testosterone in their bodies.
Sally Kipyego, the Olympic and world silver medalist of the USA finished one place ahead of Niyonsaba in the same race. Kipyego used to represent Kenya before she later changed her citizenship in 2017 to the USA. Paul Chelimo is another US runner that I have been able to bump into on the streets of Eldoret town.
Upcoming Canada’s marathon runner, John Mason was also in the mix of the many foreign runners who took part in the cross country event in Eldoret on Sunday.
An Olympic year means so much to the Iten community in growing the economy of the region and connecting the locals to the international community of runners.