Three little-known East African towns have gained recognition for producing record-breaking athletes in the world of athletics. These towns, located in Ethiopia and Kenya, have nurtured and provided a conducive environment for elite runners to train and excel in their careers.
Bekoji, situated approximately four hours’ drive from Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, is known as the running Mecca of Uganda. This highland area has produced numerous athletes who have achieved incredible feats in the sport. Notable runners from Bekoji include Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Ejegayehu Dibaba, Mare Dibaba, and Derartu Tulu, who was the first African woman to win an Olympic Games gold medal. The town is home to training camps such as the Cheptegei Training Centre and Taryet elite athletics training institution.
Kapchorwa, another East African town, has also played a significant role in producing world-class runners. Located at the Western escarpment of the Great Rift Valley in Uganda, Kapchorwa has given rise to exceptional athletes like Joshua Cheptegei, who currently holds the world record in the half marathon. Peruth Chemutai, a gold medalist in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, is another notable runner from this town. The area is home to the Cheptegei Training Centre and Taryet elite athletics training institution, where athletes hone their skills and strive for greatness.
In Kenya, Iten is a town situated in Elgeyo/Marakwet County and serves as the headquarters of the region. It has also produced a remarkable number of elite runners who have made their mark on the athletics world. The list of renowned athletes from Iten is extensive and includes names like Eliud Kipchoge, the famed marathon runner, as well as David Rudisha, who is the current Olympic gold medalist in the 800m event. Other notable runners from Iten include Abel Kirui, Florence Kiplagat, Felix Kandie, Cornelius Kemboi, Raymond Yator, Asbel Kiprop, Mary Keitany, Wilson Kipsang, and Edna Kiplagat. These athletes have achieved great success in events such as the London Marathon and the Boston Marathon, showcasing the caliber of talent that emerges from this small town.
Although often overshadowed by Kenya and Ethiopia on a global scale, these three East African towns have proven to be fertile grounds for producing phenomenal runners. The dedication, training facilities, and geographical advantages of these towns have contributed to the success of their athletes, who continue to break records and make their mark in the world of athletics.