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Christmas in Iten

December 27, 2014
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I arrived in Kenya on Dec 17th and spent a couple days in Nairobi. Marie and I did some tourist stuff before flying to Eldoret.

Elephant orphanage in Nairobi



Giraffe Centre in Nairobi


The plan was to take it easy for 5 days and I managed to get four easy days in before a fairly hard 18km run with the group I trained with last year. I didn’t stay up with the leaders, they were four minutes ahead of me at the end of 18.2km but I still went a little harder than planned.

On December 24th Shoe4Africa put on a women’s 5km in Iten. Entries were free, came with a t-shirt and limited to the first 800. Needless to say it filled up fast. Marie helped out with registration for quite a while before I showed up after my morning run and helped pin numbers to t-shirts. The course was not easy and because the prize money was good there were a bunch of impressive performances.

Before the start of the Shoe4Africa 5km.


Handing out race shirts




Christmas day fell on a Thursday and I decided to give the ‘big’ fartlek session a go. The Thursday fartlek sessions in Iten can see upwards of 300 runners. Because of Christmas the numbers were reduced. Many of the local runners come from nearby villages and spent Christmas day at home. On top of that it rained pretty hard the night before and the trails were still muddy in the morning, which may have reduced numbers as well.

I ran to the fartlek with a few other Wazungu from HATC and met up with 40-50 Kenyans. Someone decided on 20 times 2 minutes with 1 minute rest. Geoffrey Rono (59 minute half marathoner) was in the group. For the first 7 intervals or so I was able to get back with the lead group by running the one minute ‘rest’ a little harder (the guys around me were doing the same). At that point my average pace was 3:30/km. On one trail the mud was bad and my shoes were really heavy. At this point a second group formed and we slowed our rest down (~5:30/km) as we weren’t trying to re-group with the leaders anymore.

After 10 intervals or so a bunch of guys dropped and we got on a new path without any mud. I found my rhythm again and stayed with three other guys. After a while we could barely see the first group, which was down to three guys.

On the 17th interval I lost contact with the guys I was running with, but when I finished I realized they were stopping at 17. I continued on and one of the guys decided to keep me company. Towards the end of the 20th interval the two of us flew by the three leaders, who were walking. Afterwards we walked with them and they realized they miscounted because they thought they did 20. They had their watches on 1 minute timer whereas I had a running time (59 minutes, 16.3km, 3:38/km). In the end only 3 Kenyans out of about 50 were planning on completing the prescribed 20 x 2 min session.

Later Christmas day we visited some friends for a late lunch, although I only had chapati because I had already feasted at HATC. We also gave out a bunch of school supplies to local kids we saw walking around. For dinner the kitchen prepared a big cake that was really good. We finished off the night with a game of charades with our Irish friends.

Other than HATC, Club Iten and Kerio View there wasn’t much in terms of Christmas decorations but we did manage to buy a small tree for our room.



Our room decorations

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  1. Susan Coolsaet permalink
    December 27, 2014 10:15 am

    Thank you Reid for the great photos and update!

    Sent from my iPad



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