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A visit to one unique training camp for young and upcoming runners in Kaptagat, Kenya

May 7, 2019
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unique training camp for young and upcoming runners in Kaptagat, Kenya
Training camp in Kaptagat

This is my story on a visit to one of the most unique athletics training camps in Kenya sometime in 2017.

In this warm, dusty and dry weather across most parts of Kenya, I could hardly believe the changes that I found by simply driving 26km out of Eldoret town this Wednesday (18th January 2017) to Kaptagat's relatively new training camp.

The environment at the Kaptagat training camp

The air coming from the adjacent Kaptagat forest was amazingly cool and refreshing. "This is one of the reasons why I come here almost annually to spent my holidays and mentor the young athletes here," said Urs Haenni from Switzerland. "Nowhere else in the world can one find such an amazing weather."

Mentor-ship is one key area that the Complete Sports management training camp focuses on very much. Of the three officials I met at the camp, one was a coach, the other was a spiritual pastor and the third was a mentor.

And, there is usually an extra room for any mentor to come and spend some time with the young athletes, be it athletes who went through the camp in the past and became successful, or any other individual who value and exercise the core values being impacted to the athletes here aside from their physical training namely; responsibility, excellence, integrity, unconditional love for others in community and forgiveness.

The camp enrolls athletes who show some talent in running and come from poor backgrounds. They are provided with everything they will need in their training camp for free, from accommodation, food, to training gear.

 Within a year, almost all the athletes that were enrolled got opportunities to join sports management, get sports scholarships in universities and join the military. The success rate is very high, given that out of the 18 athletes enrolled last year, 17 of them got opportunities to go out of the camp. There is no time limit on how long one should remain in the camp and if one is not successful in the first year, he joins the new ones after every year.

The bed capacity in the camp is 18 and so 17 new athletes got enrolled this year, and already -barely a month - three of them are being offered some opportunities; two for scholarships and one to join athletics management.

"At first, when we began this camp, the community around here were a bit concerned that the athletes may influence the children in the neighborhood negatively. But, the same parents who had concerns are the ones who are now requesting for spots for their children in the camp after witnessing the transformation that the athletes go through here. Some of the athletes in the camp even attend the local churches around and preach," Rev. William Kosgey, the pastor at the Kaptagat training camp, said. He is the pastor that stays most of the time in the camp with the athletes.

 Besides training, the young athletes are taught self-reliance skills like keeping poultry, farming a small garden and are advised on ideas to start small businesses so that their lives do not defend entirely on their performances in competitions. I could see the models of a poultry house and also a garden as Rev. Kosgey and Urs walked me around the camp.

"When you plant a tree, you do not pull it up to grow fast; you just provide it with everything it needs and let it grow at it's own rate. It is the same with this camp. It started about six years ago and the results so far are quite impressive, but there is still more to be done to accommodate more athletes, perhaps to set up some more farming structures like a dairy for the athletes to get more practical skills on self-reliance, among others." Urs said.

This camp which seeks to develop young athletes wholly, physically, economically, socially and spiritually is surely a remarkable venture by Bernd Breitmaier, the founder, and many of this kind ought to be set up across the world.

The people I met there: Urs Haenni (mentor), Elijah Samoei (coach) and Rev. William Kosgey (pastor)

For more information about this camp, visit their website here

You can get long distance running online coaching from a Kenyan coach here.

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