Saturday, 26 February 2011

Iten Road Races

Yesterday in Iten we had two road races, for the men a half marathon (although it ended up only being 18.6km) and for the women a 10km race. We had five guys and one girl from the camp running so lots of interest. The races started from different places and at different times, the men's race was starting down by the view point in Iten then running up a steep hill of maybe 2km into Iten town then working it's way down for about 8km towards Eldoret turning onto a dirt track then winding it's way back up into Iten and finishing on the Iten playing field.

By some unknown reason Ken was the lead vehicle for the men's race and I got to watch the entire race unfold from out of the sunroof. The start as usual was very disorganised and a bit of a free for all, but once they were running things went relatively smoothly. After about 3km a group of 10 had made a break from the rest of the runners led by my friend and former camp member Isaac, they passed 5km in 15minutes and 10km in 29.40! The second half of the race was nearly all up hill with a head wind and the group all of a sudden split very quickly, with about 4km to go another one of our runners, Edwin, made a break and quickly grew a lead of 50 – 100m, unfortunately for Edwin he had pushed too early and up one of the steep hills you could see him visibly tense up and start to struggle, he quickly was caught by the eventual winner but managed to hold on and finish in 4th position, Isaac had a great run finishing in 6th place, we also had a guy called Felix finish in 8th so some good running for the Run-Fast team. In the women's 10km Sarah finished a very credible 12th position just out of the money (top 10).
The prize giving again was a bit chaotic and when they called out the top ten to collect the prizes they didn't call Isaacs name, I took him to see the officials who informed him he had been disqualified for taking a short cut! How they decided this I don't know but I spoke to them and said I could prove with photos and videos that he was in the lead pack the whole way, luckily they thought I looked a trustworthy fellow and reinstated him in the results!

The eventual winner pulling away from Edwin

Today as always is long run today, for me it was 30km. I was cruising along nicely going at a pace close to my marathon pace when some random guy pulls up beside me in a full tracksuit and starts chatting, not good for my confidence! Luckily he went his own way and I could concentrate on my own running. Although the last 5km was very hilly I still managed to knock nearly 2 minutes off my best time so a good confidence booster with two weeks until my half marathon.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Nothing Special

Nothing special this week just been ploughing on with training. Probably my best track session on Tuesday, 15 x 600m. Windy 10km tempo run today was ok considering the wind and now I've only a few tough runs left until I start to ease off slightly for the half marathon on 13th March. Next Tuesday the track session is 2 x 5000m, 2 x 1000m, this will be tough.

Tomorrow there are some races in Iten, for the women it is an uphill 10km and for the men at the moment it looks as though it's going to be a half marathon, half uphill, half downhill. I say at the moment as it has already changed about three times, first it was half from down in the valley, then 15km, then 12km from a different route, so we shall see.

I did find out today that in Edwin's race last week he beat the course record of Duncan Kibet (the second fastest marathon runner in history) and is current;y ranked 9th in the world. I'm really sure now on the right course and with good competition he can go sub 60mins.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Edwin Kipyego smashes his pb in first race of the season

On Sunday 20th February in the Riba-Roja Half Marathon in Spain Edwin Kipyego won in a new course record and personal best time of 61.25, nearly a 40 second improvement and a good sign that he will run a lot faster on a flat course with good competition. Edwins run has given everyone here at camp a lot of confidence that we can all go and run pb's when we race. More news on how the race unfolded when I find out.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting to know Mary Keitany and family. They live very close and are good friends with the camp coach Ken, and also Charles, Mary's husband is the brother of Raymond who is one of the guys that lives on the camp. After Mary ran the World Record for the Half Marathon on Friday she returned to Iten on Saturday, unfortunately as I was in Nairobi I was unable to join in the celebrations for her new world record, as Ken missed the celebrations as well he took me to her house where we had a celebratory drink with Mary and Charles. They were a really nice couple, very friendly and welcoming. Her next race is the London Marathon in April where it will be very interesting to see what time she can run.

Myself with Mary and Family

A tough hills session this morning followed by some breakfast and a quick rest before our second run of the day at 11.00a.m.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

2011 Kenyan National Cross Country Championships

Saturday 20th February 2011 started at 3.30a.m. standing in an ants nest waiting for my lift to Nairobi, once I realised what was biting my legs I soon moved to a better waiting spot. Ken was a little late arriving as he had been called out during the night to help a friend whose wife was sick, after less than 1 hours sleep he was about to drive the 400km to Nairobi so we could watch the Kenyan National Cross Country Championships. I was very tired myself after having run a tough 38km the day before and I soon fell asleep. I awoke to find us heading straight for an oncoming lorry as Ken had himself fallen asleep at the wheel, luckily my yelling woke him up and we escaped death by a whisker! After our close shave we stopped for breakfast and Ken was fine for the rest of the journey.

The Kenyan Nationals is probably the toughest cross country race in the world, the course was a flat but windy 2km loop, good for spectators. The women’s race was won by the world 10,000m champion Linet Masai who although only won by a few seconds looked fluent and relaxed for the whole race and I think if pushed had a lot left in reserve.

The men's 12km race was dominated by Geoffrey Mutai the 2.04? marathon runner, I really think this guy has got to be the best distance runner in the world at the moment, he won the race easily and if he can keep his form until the worlds I can't see anyone getting close to him. I think he has a slight quarrel with Athletics Kenya at the moment that might stop him doing the Worlds but hopefully this can be resolved quickly. It was a great race to watch but I'm glad I didn't race it as being in the middle of marathon training I would have been left for dead! Below is a video of Geoffery Mutai winning the senior mens race.

The journey home was long and although Ken was tired he showed no signs of falling asleep. Unfortunately on the road from Eldoret to Iten there had been a very bad accident in which a lorry carrying sand (weighing about 30 tonnes) was trying to overtake another lorry and totally wiped out a matatu, killing at least 12 people, it shows just how dangerous the roads out here can be.

A long day of about 11 hours in the car, but well worth as it's not often you get the chance to see and meet so many great runners. Today I'm off to meet Mary Keitany the new world record holder for the half marathon, more on that tomorrow.......

Friday, 18 February 2011

Now That's What I Call Service

A knock at my door at 5.40a.m. tells me it's time for my 38km long run. Lots of rain throughout the night means I'm going to have heavy shoes as the mud gets very sticky out here. It's only me doing the long run today and still at 6a.m. I have a pacemaker and a support car supplying water and 5km split times, sometimes it's not bad being a full time athlete.

I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday so was actually unsure I would make the full distance but as always I would give it my best shot. When we start it is still very dark and the only reason I don't twist my ankle in the first 10km is that my way is lit by the headlights of Kens car that is following close behind. I try and break the distance down into manageable chunks and it's not long until I have broken the half way mark and reached 20km, and to my surprise I still feel ok. After 26km we turn to the left and I realise that I know the rest of the route back and it is very hilly. I keep pushing on and after what feels like an eternity I hit 35km where Langat my pacemaker calls it a day, the hills have taken there toll on him it seems. Just two long hills left and I manage to pick up the pace and push on home in the final 3km. At the finish my legs still seem in one piece and the only damage I can see is a bit of “runners nipple”, so all in all a good days work.

Time for some well earned breakfast now and then some sleep. Very early start tomorrow for our trip to Nairobi for the Kenyan National Cross Country Championships.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


One of the best things about life on camp is that we have a full time cook named Kiptum. Kiptum arrives at about 7a.m. every morning, seven days a week. First job is to prepare the tea for breakfast, this is not like the tea in England, in large pots he boils a mixture of about two thirds water with one third milk, to this is added loose tea leaves and a large amount of sugar. The athletes out here love their tea so Kiptum needs to make enough for about 40 cups. After Breakfast a lunch of rice and beans is prepared and then dinner usually of Ugali and cabbage stew or Sukuma Wiki. Kiptum has started a vegetable patch in camp so he doesn't have to buy so much stuff from the market and while he is not preparing our food he tends to this. He also is the general handyman around camp having recently made a nice shoe rack for mine and Edwin's “house”.


Kiptum has lived in the region all his life and his mother still lives a short drive down in the valley on a small shamba (farm).

Kiptum tending to his vegetables

Apart from his life on camp, Kiptums main hobby is volleyball in which he is the coach/manager of the local team. Last weekend saw them compete in a competition in Iten where they performed very admirably only losing to the eventual winners.

Volleyball tournament

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Majani aka “The Evil Massage Man”

I thought the running here in Iten was hard but it is nothing compared to the pain caused by the hands of our masseur, Majani. I have had lots of massages in my time and I know a sports massage isn't supposed to be relaxing but none of them come close to the agony of Majanis' massages! He seems to take great pleasure in finding my sore spots and pummelling them until I can take no more, he even laughs when I start to scream! I do hope all the pain is worth it. One of the guys on camp hasn't had a massage for five weeks now as he can't take the pain, he keeps making excuses whenever it is his turn or he conveniently goes missing.

Majani trying to look innocent

I have a couple of relatively easy days now before a 38km run on Friday (won't be fun) and then off to Nairobi on Saturday to watch the Kenyan National Cross Country Championships.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Eliud Kipserem

Eliud has an interesting story and probably knows the most “famous” runners out of anyone in the camp, he was the one that introduced me to David Rudisha.

He was born on 04/08/87 in Kapsabet (which isn't far from Iten)and went to St-Patricks High School from 2005 until 2008. He started competing at the age of 16 and the first event he competed in was the 5000m but after a year of this he moved down to the 1500m where he had some good success, running 3.49 at the age of 17 and coming 3rd in the Kenyan trials four years in a row. This in fact was very unlucky as the top two got picked to represent Kenya! His personal best for the 1500m is 3.43 and for the 5000m it is 13.35.

Eliud comes from a large family in which he is the last born of 8 boys and 2 girls. His neighbours at home include Bernard Lagat and Eliud Kipchoge, at school he became good friends with Isaac Songok, Augustine Choge and David Rudisha so he keeps good company.

After a few injuries Eliud decided to start road running and although his pb for the half marathon is 63minutes this was done on a really tough course out here at altitude. He tells me he has run 15km in 42minutes (which works out at about 45minutes for ten miles!) and wants to run at worst 61minutes for the half marathon this year.

An interesting fact about Eliud is that despite having competed for 12 years and being a professional athlete he has only every won 1000Ksh (about £8) from running! Hopefully he will get some races this year and start earning some proper money!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Edwin Kipyego

I share a room with Edwin and he is probably the best athlete we have here living on camp. Some of you may recognise his name as in 2010 he had the following race record in the UK:

1st Reading Half Marathon
1st Bristol Half Marathon
2nd Robin Hood Half Marathon
3rd Swansea 10km (28.39 on a windy day)
1st Great Eastern Half Marathon (pb 62.16)
1st Victory 5
2nd Cardiff Half Marathon
1st Birmingham Half Marathon
1st Barns Green Half Marathon

Edwin was born on 16/11/90 in the hospital here in Iten. He has always loved running and as a youngster was inspired by people like Paul Tergat. When Edwin went to primary school he used to get up at 5a.m. every day so that he could go for a run before the rest of his family was awake, and he still had time to get all his chores done before school.

At High School he started to compete in the 3000m Steeplechase but didn't like the event, so started to race the 5000m and 10000m in which he was always near to the front. After being spotted by a manager he was soon training hard for road races an his first race abroad was a half marathon in Hamburg where he ran 65minutes.

Since then he has switched managers and from March 2010 has competed for the run-fast management team. This year he expects to run under 61 minutes for the half marathon and having trained with him for the last 6 weeks I'm sure he will.

It looks as though Edwin will first compete in the UK this year in the Bath Half Marathon, give him a cheer if you see him.

Edwin winning the 2010 Birmingham Half Marathon

p.s. Thanks to Finn and family for a very nice lunch yesterday, Raymond was very impressed with the lunch, I think he has thoughts of asking your cook to marry him!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Dirty Boy...

So I finished my 30km run today improving my time by another minute, covered in sweat, salt and red dust only to find that we are out of water at camp, so it looks as though I am going to be smelling pretty bad today! This is not an unusual problem when you are living in a country where water is a sort after resource, generally we are pretty lucky here on camp as Ken (the coach who owns the camp) has a farm just up the road with some really big water storage tanks, when we run low he normally brings a tanker round to fill up our water storage tank.

Edwin said something the other day that I thought was quite interesting, I was telling him that I am always hungry at the moment no matter how much I eat. He told me that was good, as he knows when he is in good shape when he is always hungry, so I must be in good shape. I put it down to running 20 miles a day but I like Edwins' theory better.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Time for a rest

I've been out of internet credit for a while so slow on the updates this week, sorry about that.

This weeks training has been very tough, there is no way I could train like this and hold down a full time job, I am just too tired to do anything else. Monday morning was a 50 minute Kenyan hills session, Tuesday we had a track session of 12 x 600m, 12 x 400m, Wednesday morning was a run for 1 hour 50 minutes and Thursday morning was a 12km tempo run. Add to all this easy running every afternoon, 7000ft altitude and endless hills then you get a very tired Thomas! Still all is going well and I'm getting quicker on each session. Some of the group have started getting worried that I will be beating them soon, I definitely keep them on their toes and it's really good motivation for me when I start catching them up.

I can't believe I've been here over six weeks already, so far the experience has been brilliant, I'm really glad I got the opportunity to stay on a real Kenyan camp and train full time with these guys, it looks as though quite a few of them will be racing in the UK and Europe soon and will be interesting to see how they run and how quick someone that can run 63 minutes for a half marathon up here at altitude can run on a flat fast course at sea level. It is 4 weeks on Sunday that I race in the CPC half marathon in the Hague, I still haven't got a clue how I'm going to run but hopefully all this hard work pays off as a personal best would give me great confidence going into London.

30km run tomorrow morning, hopefully my legs have recovered slightly from this weeks training and I can run quicker than I did two weeks ago. Then after the run I am going to watch a volleyball tournament and on Sunday lunch with Mr Finn and his family.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Living the Dream....

So today I was just chilling in David Rudishas house then we went for a bit of a cruise in his new Toyota Land Cruiser...... Was I dreaming, no, one of my training partners is a good friend with David and while he was giving me a tour of St Patricks he asked if I wanted to meet a few of the athletes that live there while they train, in one room a guy came out and it was none other than the 2010 World athlete of the year and 800m world record holder David Rudisha. He was really nice, we had a good chat then he gave us a lift back to the camp. You would think that now he is the fastest 800m runner of all time that he would have a big house etc. but he still lives in a tiny room on a basic camp.

The 2010 World athlete of the year with David Rudisha.... whoops, got that wrong! I meant, me with the 2010 World athlete of the year David Rudisha. 

This adventure just keeps getting better and better.....

Saturday, 5 February 2011

And the Payn finally beats ALL the Kenyans....

I was awoken this morning at 4.30a.m. being told that my lift for the long run had arrived, got myself dressed, picked up my drink, put on my shoes then jumped in the truck where we were taken to the other side of Eldoret for a 6.00a.m. start of our long run. Today was my first 35km run up here at altitude and again I was allocated a personal pacemaker, my friend Langat. As it was still pitch black when we started and the road was very rutty I was over two minutes down on my target time after 5km, not a good start. As the sun came up over the hills we started to speed up and although by 15km we were still two minutes down on target I felt pretty good. I finished the 35km strongly and passed all the Kenyans (as they were only doing either 25km or 30km), another good session at the end of a very tough week.

Ok, when I said I beat all the Kenyans they actually finished a long way ahead of me but if some one is 5minutes ahead of you in a half marathon but stops at 10miles and you finish then you beat them, right??

Anyone for Ugali??

Edwin Kipyego didn't join us for the long run as he was racing in the Police Championships in Nairobi finishing a very credible sixth position, this qualifies him for the Kenyan National Championships which will be held on the 19th February in Nairobi where I will be a spectator.

Tired now so time for a nap the up for some Ugali dinner.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Cut Throat

The hard training continues and I'm just about copping, a really tough fartlek yesterday morning in which I had some competition as two other white guys turned up! I think they were Moroccans. The “Fartlek” was 25 x 1min fast/1min slow and as usual when we hit the first hill I got dropped, the other two white guys stuck with the group but my strength showed as I caught and overtook them both well before the end of the session :-)

I found out today that two of the guys that have been living on the camp have been asked to leave as they are not meeting the times in training/racing that the coach expects of them, two new guys will move in to replace them. Both of the guys were quite upset by this but have been told that they can still train with the group and when they start getting the results they can move back in. I think this shows just how competitive it is here in Kenya. You can have guys that given the chance could be world beaters but if they never get that chance then no one will ever here of them.

Next week I'm going to start doing little interviews with the guys I'm living with, some of them have quite interesting stories, so stay tuned!

35km run tomorrow, should be fun......

Anyone for a bugger....

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Personal Pacemakers

Having been in Kenya now for over a month I feel I have settled in well and got to grips with the training, I'm now on my personalised training plan which means I'm actually training harder than the Kenyans I'm living with as most of them are “only” half marathon runners when I go the full distance. So this week started with a 90 minute good pace run through the forest then an easy 40min run in the afternoon. Tuesday morning was our track session where I was allocated my own personal pacemaker! We were doing 10 x 1000m and having the pacemaker helped a lot as I could relax more rather than struggling to try and keep with the group. On the 9th and 10th reps I actually dropped my pacemaker, the first Kenyan I've beaten in a track session out here :-) Easy 50 minute run in the afternoon.

Lunch nearly everyday consists of rice and beans

Since I have been in Kenya it had only rained twice but last night we had a real storm, this meant that this mornings 90min run was like a cross country, my shoes weighed a tonne, I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it. Now for some food and sleep then an easy 50 minute run this afternoon.