World-class athletes agree: Eldoret, Kenya is one of the world’s best marathon training grounds.
Marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge — who ran in the Athens, London, Beijing and Rio de Janeiro Olympics — concedes that the advantage of training at Eldoret’s high altitude, which is 7,000 feet (approximately 2,100 meters), in its climate makes competing in locations closer to sea level easier. Kipchoge runs 200 and 250 kilometers each week. He has won multiple Olympic medals and top-tier marathons worldwide, such as in London, Chicago and Berlin.
The energy-providing goodness, stellar nutrition and clean-production of Kenyan foods certainly give health advantages as well. Kipchoge’s average training includes a traditional and balanced Kenyan diet.
One traditional food is ugali. Eaten at most every Kenyan meal, ugali is created from cornmeal and water. It is so ubiquitous that crooners extol its virtues in music and locals joke about their love of the dish at roadside haunts. Moreover, this popular complex carbohydrate is filling. It gives nutrients, energy and satisfaction to fuel the grueling workouts of prolific runners.
“We’re in a third world country, thereby, we need to earn a living in different sources, and sports is one of them,” Kipchoge said. “People have a lot of interest in sports and that’s why we have a lot of champions here.”
In addition to the excellent training conditions offered in his homeland, World Cross Country Champion Viola Lelagat Kibiwot said the secret to being an accomplished distance runner is disciplined training and self-respect.
“Without that respect — if you don’t respect yourself, you can’t do anything,” she imparted.
“I think it’s tenacity,” Kipchoge said. “You have to train hard and in a smart way. In athletics, the important thing is to plan and to prepare, but not to win. The win will come automatically.”
“I can say that running is something you have to have it from your heart,” Kibiwot added. “You can say that, to win, you have to have that passion, and you have to be ready all the time.”
This story was part of a Culturs TV program previously presented on dptv.denverpost.com through a partnership with The Denver Post.