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Mwezi moja katika Kenya tayari

January 17, 2015

This was a tough week of training and a little chaotic.

Evans Zakaria Ruto left for Mumbai Marathon and since he is the leader of the group guys splintered off to other groups as the next guys in line aren’t that fit right now (apparently you need to be fit for runners to listen). That meant on Tuesday when I was warming up for a fartlek session I saw many guys I normally run with cooling down. Luckily 5 other guys didn’t get the memo and I had some company for 25 x 1 min / 1 minute rest.

On Wednesday I got wind of one group doing 7 x 5 min and another doing 17 x 2 min on Thursday morning. I wanted to do the 7 x 5 min session but wasn’t sure which group was doing what. I was able to meet up with Gilbert Kirwa’s group at 8:35 and realized they were doing 17 x 2 min so myself and a couple other Kenyans ran 4km down the road to meet up with “Mwisho Wa Lami” (“End Of Tarmac”) group for 9:00 start. This particular morning there were at least 150 runners lined up for the session.

The 7 x 5 minutes with 2 minutes rest session went really well. I was typically 50-80m back of the leader but got right up to the front for the last two, which were uphill. In order to catch the leaders for the first few intervals I had to run about 3:50/km, and guys were catching up and passing me on these ‘rests’. By the end there were about 20 of us in the front group and since we were running uphill the last 2 minute rest was a real ‘pole pole’ rest at 6:53/km.

Face post fartlek vs. post rinse.


Friday morning I did 18km with 60 other runners. The last 6km were uphill and guys started to push the pace. There were a few of us who were tired from the fartlek the day before but we stubbornly followed the 3:30/km for the last 4km. This was probably due to the lady in the pack and not wanting to get dropped by her. The lady ended up being Florence Kiplagat who has run 65:12 for a half marathon (the WR). After the run a few guys were complaining that the guys pushing the pace hadn’t done a fartlek the day before but there’s no one forcing us to stay with the pack.

After the run Gilbert told me he was planning on 30km, not too fast but hilly. That sounded prefect.

I met at 6:00 sharp for the run. 1km into the run I realized this was going to be a very hilly run as we were heading down the Great Rift Valley. After 5 years in Iten I’ve never run down the Valley.

We ended up descending for 9km until we started to climb up to a hilly forest. From km 15-16 we ascended 80m and then from 16-17 we ascended 97m (318 feet). During those 2 km the group of 30 exploded and there were only 5 guys at the front with me 10m in tow, and a line of guys making their way out of the Valley in my wake. Once it got flatter the group swelled back to 10 or 11 guys and I was dropped towards the end.

It was one of my most memorable runs ever, and the hilliest. Over 31.5km I ascended 630m (2066 feet) in total. We started out descending into the Great Rift Valley to a beautiful sunrise in front of us. The villages along the dirt road were really interesting showcasing quintessential mud houses with thatched roofs. The temperature changes were drastic as we descended down and then came back up through Bugar (Singore) forrest. On top of that, struggling hard for breath while running 4:33/km was a new experience.


Here you can see the elevation chart with pace (blue line). The pace was very slow at the start, which is smart because you can’t see anything for the first 5 minutes until the sun starts to show…

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 12.10.32 PM



  1. January 17, 2015 5:17 am

    So good Reid. I’m pretty jealous as usual. Not so if I read your encounter on the Rift Valley loop. I did a similar run with the guys once. Hope you get the chance to do the famous hill repeat loop in singore Forrest!

  2. January 17, 2015 11:01 pm

    Yes the months really do fly by….Great to hear about your adventures…next thing you know you’ll be wearing minimus shoes and running Western States 100…hmmm…

  3. January 20, 2015 3:14 am

    Hi Reid. This is a great report. Thanks. Your swahili is good except end of the tarmac is mwisho wa lami not mwisho wa lima. Reading your updates, I feel nostalgic (for lack of a better word) even though I am in Kenya and am also a Kenyan. Never been to Iten but am a runner (sideline by an adductor injury for 6 months now). I imagine it must have been so memorable running in the forests and trails with those lean guys. The smell of sweat, the clouds of dust, the sounds and grunts of exertion. The pounding footfals and the song they make by their thuds and regularity… annyways, enjoy. Send more updates. How many weeks left here? I promise you, one day when you are old, you will want to come back and walk those trails even if not to run. The smell of the fresh leaves and forest aroma is bewitching.

    • reidcoolsaet permalink*
      January 20, 2015 3:46 am

      What you say is all very true. And I’ll blame spell check for lami/lima!

      Only a couple more days here, wish it was longer…


  4. January 20, 2015 3:18 am

    Consider yourself hooked Mister Coolaset. Believe me when I tell ya. There is nothing like the air, the dust, the sweat, the fresh leaves, the landscape at the break of sunrise and just being unified with a group of guys in that struggle to try to become better runners. The spirit that unites that team and makes it one during that run is irreplaceable.

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