The many dusty trails are uneven, untreated and uncompromising. And along them champions are made.
This winter, World 5,000m champion Mo Farah and Women’s world record marathon holder Paula Radcliffe headed a group of British athletes for training there in February this year.

The Britons went to the High Altitude Training Centre in Iten owned and managed by one of Radcliffe’s former rivals, Lornah Kiplagat, and Kiplagat’s husband Peter Langerhorst to prepare for the Olympics to be hosted in London this summer.
The Britons are among other foreign nationals who troop into the high altitude training camps in the North Rift with hope of marching and
even eclipsing Kenyans in the sport th country dominates.
According to Atletics Kenya (AK) public relations manager Peter Angwenyi, close to 2000 athletes come to train all year round. Martin Keino, the proprietor of Keino Sports Marketing and a former pace setter in long distance running, at any one time up to 200 foreign athletes can be found training in the highlands across the country especially in Iten and Eldoret.

Despite training in Kenya in the high altitude training centres in the North Rift the foreigners have not managed to eclipse Kenyans in international races.

The High Altitude Performance Training Centre (HAPTC) Joseph Ngure refutes the widely held claim that success is the result of a coincidence, that Kenyans have won the genetic and geographic lottery.
“Running is an extension of their lives,” he says. “It’s not something that’s imposed on them – they do it instinctively.” He added:”For Kenyans running and winning is a tradition. “Any one factor you single out can be found elsewhere, be it genetics, history, motivation. Kenyans seem to be able to bring them all together in one area.” Ngure says,”If altitude is the key, why are there no world-class distance runners in Bolivia? If poverty is the driving force, why no representation from countries such as India? And if genetics and geography are so significant, how come Ugandans from the same Rift Valley region have had much less to celebrate?

The coach argues that there are other top athletes in Kenya who do not come from nor train in the high altitude areas.
He cites the current men’s marathon world record holder Patrick Makau
who hails from Eastern province and trains in Ngong. The coming of the foreigners to train in the high altitude training camps has had minimal success for them.

Some of the success stories of foreigners are that of Farah who after training in Kenya won in the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, in Daegu, South Korea, where made a major breakthrough on the world stage by taking the silver medal in the 10,000 m and then the gold in the 5000 m.
He became the first British man to win a global title over either distance.
others are Uganda’s Dorcas Inzikuru (2005 World and 2006 Commonwealth
Games 300m steeplechase champion) and compatriot Moses Kipsiro the
10,000m and 5,000m Commonwealth Games gold medalists.
Sudan’s Hamed Ismail trained in Eldoret and won silver medal in the men’s 800m during the Olympics in Beijing, China in 2008.

Farah was prompted to head to East Africa for training on the recommendation of his Irish agent, Ricky Simms, after he endured a disappointing Olympic Games in which he failed to qualify for the final of the 5000m.
“Kenya was different, it opened my eyes,” explained Farah. “As an athlete for many years I’d gone to different training camps, but how they train is completely different.
“It is run, eat, sleep that’s all I did,” he added. “The intensity and environment was completely different and you have 50 guys to run with
– in Teddington you maybe have only 15 to 20 guys. They all run with
great hunger. You know if they don’t, they don’t feed their families. For them, they ain’t got no choice.”
Training up to 120 miles per week Farah faced no distractions at the training camp. There was no TV or internet access and this allowed him
to focus 100 percent on training.