I suppose that the experience of living in one of the international 'training camps' on the other side of the village would be quite different from our living situation here. Here we spend time and live with the Kenyan athletes (I haven't seen any Muzungos on this side of the village), while in those places you're more likely to hang out and train with other international runners. But either way I think being here means you can access a large group of potential training partners.
Iten is perched on the edge of a plateau that looms over the deep Rift Valley, at an altitude of 2600m. This means that there is less oxygen in the air, and the body takes some time to adjust to this. Iten's location, with impressive views over the Kerio National Park from far above, also means that the local residents bear witness to an impressive sunrise while they're out jogging every morning.
Running at this altitude is quite difficult at first, because your lungs are working much harder to sustain any given pace. Your muscles are drawing as much oxygen from your engine, but your engine is receiving less oxygen from each breath. For this reason, I was told when I arrived yesterday morning that I should not run at all on my first day in Iten. And then I should only run slowly for the first week.
I'm told that I probably won't be able to run any intensive speed work in the first while. But I'm hoping to start pushing the pace a bit after a few days, to test the water. Some people are affected more than others by the altitude, so it's hard to say this early on how quickly I'll acclimatise. I guess the local residents have seen plenty of over-eager Mzungos blowing themselves out up here before. The hard part is that I'm extremely anxious to get stuck in, and I feel normal just walking around.
After showing much restraint by resting up yesterday, this morning at 5:50am I bounced out of bed in anticipation of a 6am run. It was still mostly dark. Markus and I joined the girls for a 10k circuit in the area around the village.
Kerio District is full of world class runners, and all of them are sharing the same trails, tracks and hills for their training (up to three times a day). For a visiting runner, the experience of going out for a morning-run and stretching in the company of these athletes is a huge buzz: imagine an All Black fan throwing a ball around with Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, or a tennis player having a hit around with Roger Federer. So far so good.