In East Africa, there are three little-known towns that have produced record-breaking athletes. These towns have become renowned for their elite runners who train, eat, and interact with their colleagues. One of these towns is Bekoji, located approximately four hours’ drive from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Bekoji is considered the running Mecca of Uganda and has produced numerous athletes, including famous runners like Tirunesh Dibaba, Ejegayehu Dibaba, and Mare Dibaba. It is also the hometown of Derartu Tulu, the first African woman to win an Olympic Games gold medal.
Another town in East Africa known for its exceptional athletes is Kapchorwa. Situated at the Western escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, Kapchorwa is the headquarters of Elgeyo/Marakwet County. This town has been the training ground for notable runners such as Jacob Kiplimo, the current half marathon world record holder, and Peruth Chemutai, the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games gold medalist. Kapchorwa is home to two main training camps, the Cheptegei Training Centre and the Taryet elite athletics training institution.
The third town is Iten, which is also located in Kenya’s Rift Valley region. Iten is famous for producing world-class athletes, including David Lekuta Rudisha, the current 800m Olympic medalist and multiple Olympic Games gold medalist. 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. Iten is known for its rigorous training programs and has been a popular destination for elite runners.
These East African towns may not be widely recognized, but they have played a crucial role in shaping the careers of some of the world’s best runners. Their conducive environments and training facilities have produced record-breaking athletes who have made significant contributions to the athletics field.