|Athletes training at Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret|
At 7:00 AM, it was a cold and cloudy morning in Eldoret on Tuesday the 12th of January 2021. This would usually be a warm, sunny, and dusty morning every other year, but the weather was quite different this time around. With some light clouds blocking the sun, it was good for both the runners who got cool weather to push harder in their intervals and for the photographers who didn’t have to find the right direction to face while taking their pictures.
Most of the tracks in the country had been closed after the social distancing rules were set. But these restrictions have recently been lessened and some sporting activities have begun to be held in the country, and so have the track facilities also been opened for the runners as well.
Judging from the level of the overgrown grass on the field and from the conversations I had with the runners and coaches on the track, it was the first track visit for most of them.
Some renovations are underway in the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret and it was hard for runners to find their way inside since the usual entrances had either been closed or were undergoing some construction work.
But once inside the stadium, you will be reminded that it is an Olympic year after all! There were runners not just from the different parts of the region but from different nationalities as well, warming up for their track interval sessions.
In the less than one hour duration that I was in the unfinished stadium, I managed to see Olympic hopefuls from three different countries training. There was Noelie Yorigo of Benin, Geoffrey Kipkorir Ruto of Uganda, and Benson Seurei of Bahrain. Had I stayed longer, I definitely would have seen more stars from other nations as well. There were a good number of big Kenyan stars too.
Besides the well-known big stars, there were also foreign runners with one capturing my attention as he was training in the rare Nike’s Alphafly racing shoes.
From this track visit, I think that perhaps one of the best places to gauge talents and make early predictions on who will likely take some track titles in Tokyo will be on these track facilities in Kenya.