Saturday, 16 October 2010

Jambo Sana


Greetings from beautiful Kenya.

I am staying at Lornah Kiplagat's High Altitude Training Camp in Iten, just as I have done on my previous 5 visits to here. The pool which was being built when I was here before is now finished, and the coffee shop which overlooks the pool is due to be finished in the next week or so, making it a very special place to stay. The food here is excellent, and I am really enjoying the chapitis and the ugaili. It's the first time that I haven' t craved food from home (though a bit of cake wouldn't go a miss), and soon there will be mangos to add to the mix. Heaven!

The pool at Lornah Kiplagat's HATC
with the new coffee shop in the background

The weather has been somewhat mixed, but at least the rain that we are having at night is keeping the dust down and is not affecting running, though I did stupidly get caught out in a hail shower on my first day here - 'drowned rat' doesn't even begin to describe what I must have looked like when I finally made it back to the camp. When it rains in Africa, it really does rain.

For the first week I was napping twice a day most days (one of the side affects of altitude), but now I'm acclimatising again, and actually getting some other things done in addition to just training, sleeping and eating (like updating my blog for example!).

On Tuesday we took a trip to the track at Moi University Campus where all the athletes from Iten are training at the moment (the track at Kamarini Stadium is being renovated, or rehabilitated as the locals put it). The Matatu trip there wasn't the most comfortable, especially when we had to stop because we had run out of fuel, but one particular moment almost made the trip worth it. Just as we approached our drop-off point, the silence onboard the packed vehicle was broken by one of those text message alerts that loose their humour after the second or third time you've heard them, but on this occasion had me in stitches. Out of nowhere, a very British accent stated 'excuse me please, you have a text message'. Obviously it was the situation, rather than the actual words, that tickled me most, and myself and Dave started into a fit of giggles that lasted for minutes. Everyone else was completely oblivious of the humour, and I'm pretty sure the Kenyan with the phone didn't appreciate our childish laughter.

A 'small' number of Kenyan athletes rising some dust directed by Robin Williams look-alike Italian coach.

The satellite TV stations disappeared the day that I arrived, and only came back yesterday, so unfortunately we have missed most of the Commonwealth Games. I have been hearing some of the results, and as the Kenyans have being doing well, they have at least being showing small clips of the distance races on the news headlines. Congratulations to everyone that I know that was competing, and a special well done to Louise and Jo on their gold medals - well deserved by both.

Training has being going well, though my hamstrings are now paying the price of being overenthusiastic, and doing the 'secret' Kenyan hills on Wednesday. The hill is so steep that running down was almost as difficult as running up, and yesterday when I got out of bed, there wasn't a single part of my body below my ribs that wasn't sore. But as they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and if it works for the Kenyans...

That's all the updates from Iten at the moment, but before I sign off I'd like to give a special mention to my Mum and Dad who, on Monday, will celebrate their 35th Wedding Anniversary. Sorry that I couldn't be there to celebrate with you both. Congratulations!!!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Greetings from Dubai

Ok so it's been a few weeks since my last blog - that's because I've been at home for a few weeks catching up with family and friends, running a few races, and earning a bit of cash to keep the travels going.  Oh and there was a wedding reception to attend - more about that later.

And so, phase 3 of the travels has just commenced.  I'm sitting in Dubai International Airport waiting for a connecting flight to Nairobi and making use of the free internet access (probably the last reliable internet access I'll have until December).  I set off from Birmingham late last night, and managed about 3 hours disturbed sleep on the plane.  Despite the lack of sleep I feel surprisingly awake - maybe the 30 degree heat that hit me when I got off the plane woke me up, or the excitement of being on the road again is energising me.

This time I'm heading back to Kenya, and though I've been 5 times before, I felt that I had to come back as part of this trip, and put to rest the demons of my last visit.  Apart from home, the sleepy town of Iten, in the Rift Valley is probably my favourite place in the world.  However, when I last visited in Dec 07/Jan 08, our trip came to an abrupt end, when, following post-presidential-election violence, running there became unsafe.  And so, following a police escort from Iten to Eldoret airport, we left behind a country that was on the verge of self destruction.  During my previous 4 visits I couldn't have felt safer; in 2007 I was actually scared for my life.  And that's why I need to go back.

After Kenya, I'll be visiting Ethiopia for the first time, and plan to run the Great Ethiopian Run on 21st November, before returning home to get a new passport so I can travel some more.

As all I've seen so far is the inside of Dubai International Airport (which while for an airport is not completely unnoteworthy, it's still just an airport), today's pictures come from Patrick and Tatiana's wedding reception - nothing to do with altitude of course, but I thought I'd share the photos of this happy occasion none the less.

Even the rain wasn't going to dampen our spirits that day.

The boys doing a Russian dance as ransom for the kidnapped bride - a Russian wedding tradition.

Patrick going through his stretching routein before the First Dance.
Tatiana flexing her muscles before the First Dance.
The First Dance.  It looks like all the preparation paid off!
It's an Egan celebration; of course there is more than 1 cake!