What you need to know:
- One of the athletes who has been training in Iten for the last few months is Amanal Petros, the German national record holder in both the full and half marathons races
- He admits to have trained in several places around the world, but that was before he discovered Iten and since then he has never looked back
- Petros, who is originally from Eritrea, moved to Germany as a refugee in 2012 and holds the German's marathon record of two hours, six minutes and 27 seconds which he set at the Valencia Marathon in December 2021
Marathon running is a punishing affair that pushes an athlete’s body to its limits.
Therefore, preparing for a major marathon would demand that an athlete and his or her technical team to carefully mix a cocktail of factors to enable one's body to not only withstand the punishment that comes with covering an entire 42.185 kilometres of constant running, but also do so in a competitive speed.
And marathon speeds have only become much faster in recent years.
All Elite Marathon runners are alive to this fact which means they are constantly trying to find areas where they can condition their bodies to gain maximum endurance and also build mental strength.
While there are a lot of high altitude training destinations globally, Iten, the undisputed home of champions, features prominently in most elite marathoners’ go-to places.
There is no doubt why this adminstrative capital of Elgeyo Marakwet County was awarded the prestigious Heritage Plaque by World Athletics in 2019 for its contribution for development of athletics in the world.
One of the athletes who has been training in Iten for the last few months is Amanal Petros, the German national record holder in both the full and half marathons races.
He admits to have trained in several places around the world, but that was before he discovered Iten and since then he has never looked back.
“I used to train in Saint Moritz, Switzerland, and sometimes I would move to USA. But since 2019, I have been training in Iten and it has been an amazing experience, I have no intentions of relocating to anywhere else," said Petros.
Petros, who is originally from Eritrea, moved to Germany as a refugee in 2012 and holds the German's marathon record of two hours, six minutes and 27 seconds which he set at the Valencia Marathon in December 2021.
Nation Sport caught up with the bubbly, 28-year-old athlete during a fartlek training session along the Kaptuli-Naiberi road in Uasin Gishu County, just few kilometres from Iten, where he was in a group of about 25 other athletes, almost half of whom were foreigners.
He could be seen occasionally chatting and having light moments with his training mates, despite the intensity of the training.
He says one of the reasons many love Iten is the hospitable nature of the local people.
“The people are very special and very friendly. I love them. We are like a family and we help each other a lot. I always feel at home when I'm here, it is almost five years now," said Petros with a broad smile.
A member of the Berlin Marathon Team, Petros is here to prepare for the 49th Berlin Marathon set for this coming Sunday where he has a target of setting a new national record which he needs maximum focus and concentration to achieve.
“Here, the focus is very special. Every week we cover between 210 and 250 kilometres. My routine is just simple: I train-eat-sleep and repeat.
“So far, I am confident about my preparation and I want to make history in front of home fans next Sunday," said Petros who also holds the national records in the 10km (27:32) which he registered at the Facsa Castellon race in Spain in February this year, and the half marathon (60:09) that he clocked in Valencia in October 2021.
Almost half of the athletes training on this flat course, that passes through President William Ruto's little-known Koilel farm, are preparing for Berlin Marathon.
Nation Sport also caught up with Switzerland's national record holder in the marathon, Tadese Abraham.
The 41-year-old runner, also originally from Eritrea, clocked his marathon personal best of 2:06:38 to win Zurich Marathon in April last year.
His target in the German capital is to lower that time.
“Last year, I also trained here in Iten as I was preparing for Zurich Marathon. This year in March I also missed my record by five seconds at the Barcelona Marathon (2:06:43) and I still prepared here. Training in Iten you can never go wrong," said Tadese.
“Here is where world record holders and Olympic champions are nurtured, and that is is why we are always coming to Iten.
“I started training here early last year and I have seen great improvement. I have run my personal bests twice in the full marathon and half marathon,” added Tadese.