Marathon Mom The People, Places and Faces: Krista DuChene’s Kenya Diaries, Volume III

The People, Places and Faces: Krista DuChene’s Kenya Diaries, Volume III


I’m nearly half-way through my stay here in Iten at the High Altitude Training Centre. I have yet to post about my training and the other people attending the camp, but thought I would post about the people in and around Iten and the HATC, first. The pictures give so many details and I definitely don’t have a shortage from which to choose!

Thursday, March 16. Day 10.
This morning I met Bekele for my first tempo run. I told him I didn’t care if the warm up and cool down were hilly, but preferred as flat as possible for the quality work in the middle. Ha! I was quite pleased with my effort and how I felt for the 9 km tempo. He did a great job of pacing me with the range I gave him. We ended up doing a total of 24 km, which got me back just in time for breakfast. Missing a meal is not an option when training at altitude! Shortly thereafter, I felt so good that I decided to do my first load of laundry. Interestingly enough, I quite enjoyed the simplicity of bending over a bucket to scrub and rinse my red-dirt-stained clothes, followed by hanging items on bushes to dry in the hot sun. They were really clean afterwards! After lunch I rested and read then went on an easy 11 km run with Julia and Manuela. I spent some time in the gym, pool and sauna before a shower and 7:00 pm dinner with the group.


Friday, March 17. Day 11. 
This morning I did 20 km, which ended with strides on the tarmac road. It was a bit quiet at mealtimes because the British guys went on a Safari, leaving at 4:00 am and not returning until 7:00 pm! I met Jess from Australia who joined Laurent, Manuela, Frank and I on a walk into Iten. I didn’t run, rather just did the core class, in the afternoon as Saturday and Sunday were going to be full days. After dinner I set out my gels and fluids for the long run, and packed my bag in preparation for my trip with Tarah to Cherangany.

Saturday, March 18. Day 12.
This morning we met at 6:20 am to start our progression run. We did a 4 km warm up on the “all weather road” then started the 26 km progression on the tarmac to Eldoret. Frank was on the bike, carrying our fluids. We had a good pace, gradually getting faster with every km. It felt so good to run downhill on a firmer and more consistent surface with the wind on our backs! At the 15 km mark, we had about 5 people, then at 20 km we had 4, and at 25 we had 3. Manuela and I were the two to finish the 30 km progression, with the last 5km at altitude-adjusted race pace.  It was a bit tricky in the end to really pick it up when dodging the increasing numbers of  piki pikis (motorbikes) and people as we entered the heart of Eldoret. It was not long before the entire group arrived, happy with their run and buying water from the shops.
Our group got a matatu back to camp then enjoyed breakfast together at the club. I had a delicious spanish omelet with toast, mango juice and a coffee. I returned to pack, briefly rest, eat lunch then catch a matatu back to Tarah’s house for my 2:00 pm physio appointment in Eldoret. Tarah, the kids and I then made the 1.5 hr drive together to Wesley’s childhood Cherangany home where he also serves as a Member of Parliament. I met Wesley’s many family members and enjoyed dinner and tea in his parents’ home. Back at the guest house, Wesley was still in meetings for his upcoming MP campaign. I was in bed just after 9:00 pm and had my best-ever sleep since arriving in Kenya. I think the long run and travel helped with that!

Sunday, March 19. Day 13.
Today was a day off of training for me so I took my time getting out of bed and starting my day. I went for short walk to take in the scenery and actually got a minute or two of reception. It was actually nice to be off the grid for 24 hours. There was a group of people sitting outside of the guest house, waiting for Wesley. It is very common for the locals to come to the house when they know he is in the area. Their main issues are financial support for school and health care. After Tarah returned from her run, we had tea and breakfast together, and relaxed with the kids on their bikes nearby. We then made an attempt to go to church but because several of the churches formed one larger surface we didn’t stay that long. Again, many people were looking for Wesley so they surrounded Tarah with questions. Tarah showed me around the rest of Cherangany. I was finally able to see and better understand what the Kenyan Kids Foundation has done in the community. The main projects include milk cooling containers for the farmers and a uniform-making shop to generate income, a small preschool and nursery for early education, and the Transcend Running Academy that provides scholarships for male and female students to attend school and train. They must place well in a 3 km trial in order to be selected. Because they have such athletic talent, the focus is then on schooling in order to have a chance at a scholarship for post-secondary education and competing for the track & field/cross country team.
The foundation also assists with clinics and medical facilities, which has been more a focus with the KKF USA. Agriculture and farming are also areas the foundation has been involved.
We returned to Wesley’s parents’ home for a lunch of sakumu wiki and ugali then headed back toward Eldoret/Iten in the later afternoon. Wesley drove because his driver had to stay with his vehicle that needed repairing. I was back “home” to the camp around 5:00 to unpack, rest and join everyone else for dinner at 7:00 pm.
I posted several other pictures on Facebook about my time in Cherangany.


The People in and around Iten and the HATC

This young boy looks to be tending to his chickens. Meat and eggs would provide an income for the family.


Cooking in a pot beside a produce stand is common. I’m presuming that because they work there all day, they must eat on site. Usually the stands close around 7:00 pm.


Children play happily while a mother or aunt works nearby.


On my day of arrival I was happy to see Johana. He’s lived and race in Ontario and owns this shop just outside the camp.


Here is a sample of the many beaded bracelets he can make. I’ve placed an order for the kids!


Many, many people on foot for miles and miles.


And of course people travel by “piki pikis”. This was taken in the morning when it was chilly for the locals.


How sweet is she?


I thought I was capturing a video of this but it was just a picture. The kids were playing quietly and once the boy in the blue t-shirt saw me, he started smiling away for the camera! Some children are shy whereas others enjoy the attention from the many mzungus (white people) at the camp. Of course countless children have joined us for parts of our runs while on their way to or from school.


I can’t get over the way they bend from the waist to sweep, clean floors (with a towel, not a mop), cook and do other sorts of work. Tarah said that when doing dishes once with Wesley’s sister, she asked if the rinse bin could be placed on the floor as it was more comfortable for her!


You can pay or do your own laundry here at this station equipped with sunlight bars and brushes for scrubbing.