Journey to Iten
Outside it is still dark, Friday, August 09, 2019 at 5 a.m. I was able to sleep for a few hours, but the restful night sleep was not possible. The plane starts to land. So here I am, in Nairobi, Kenya. Nearly four weeks of training with the best in the world, with a full focus on the sport and above all the question in my head: Can I imagine living here for a long time? That will become apparent in the next few weeks.
First of all I have to wait until I get my visa. In the meantime, I am talking to a woman who works as an athlete manager in Kenya. Visas in my pocket, luggage picked up and off to the outside. In the meantime, it has become bright. The young woman says goodbye to me. She's not in Iten this time and our paths are separating here. While I still have to get around four hours until my domestic flight goes to Eldoret, my stomach is hungry. So first breakfast. Finally arrived in Eldoret Titus greets me, will spend the next few weeks with him in the compun. The drive to Iten takes just under an hour, during which time I get into a conversation with the driver. As it turned out later, it was James Kwalia, 3rd place at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin over 5,000m. Madness when you hit everything here!
Training in Iten
Slowly I adapt to the thin air. However, the climbs are still noticeable with every run. I have strong people in my group. Titus often accompanies us on a run, his half marathon best time is 59:42 minutes. But also else I always have three to five people who train with me twice a day and show me my limits. Probably the biggest advantage of a group compared to Germany, where I train most of the time alone. You can just focus on running, after each repetition, someone else in the group takes over the tempo work. But even during the easy joggs there is time for a conversation - as long as the thin air in the height allows. This allows me to get to know and understand the mentality, culture and life of my training partners even better.
A normal day at training camp in Iten
As every morning, the alarm clock pulls me out of my sleep at 5.55 a.m. Get up, brush your teeth, put on running clothes and get out the door. It is still dark and the air is fresh. My training partners are just coming out of their homes. Handshake, "good morning" and then we set off together for the "Home of Chanmpions" banner at the entrance to the village. 45 minutes easy running and strides are on the plan this morning. At 6.15 a.m. we start our clocks and set ourselves in motion quite leisurely. Even if it is still dark, hundreds of runners are already on the way. All with the same goal in mind: to become the best version in running. Slowly it gets bright and the pace faster. Passing St. Patrick High School. World-class runners like David Rudisha have already trained here, but also with Rhonex Kipruto (10km world record holder) is an absolute talent here at home now. We have left the village of Iten behind us, the first of our group had to pay tribute to the pace on the last climb and let it rip. After less than an hour we are back home. For breakfast there is classic tea with milk and sugar, as well as honey toast and eggs.
Shortly before noon I wake up again. The need for sleep in the training camp is high, extremely high. But I have the time here in Iten. After lunch I meet the Austrian Thomas Potzinger for a tea. Exciting conversations about Jakob Ingebrigtsen his phenomenal run in London (13.02 minutes) or the training of Sondre Moen (European recordholder Marathon with 2.05.48 hours). Around 4 p.m. we set off for the second training session. Meanwhile there is more bustle in Iten and even large groups can no longer be seen. Often the athletes train alone in the afternoon. As every day, the training has left its mark again. This is noticeable when showering, when the dust detaches from the skin and you feel clean again. For dinner there is classic Ugali with Sukuma Wiki and often salad or potatoes. Like every evening, I am tired and fall into bed around 9 p.m. Tomorrow is a new day and I think about talking to Thomas today, before the alarm clock gets me out of my sleep at 5.55am. So it's probably time to get up again, brush your teeth, put on running clothes and get out the door..