Inside Kenya’s Rift Valley, which produces the world’s best marathon runners year after year

A group of runners takes part in a training session on March 12, 2019 in Kaptagat.

Kenya is home to many of the best marathon runners in the world.
It’s no coincidence. Many of these world-class runners come from Iten, the “city of champions,” a town that sits on the edge of Rift Valley, 7,000 feet above sea level.
Scientists and runners have questioned how they keep winning.
Harvard biologist Daniel Lieberman, who studied the evolution of running, told NPR it was impossible to quantify — it’s a mixture of factors like training, culture, biology, and the runner’s determination.
What used to be an unknown region is now a mecca for runners from around the world due its repeated successes.
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Kenya’s Rift Valley is a mecca for running champions.

For decades runners from Kenya and Ethiopia have been dominating distance races. From 1968 onwards, Kenyan athletes have been a force to reckon with.

And what’s intrigued runners and experts is that so many champions come from, or train at, Rift Valley in Kenya. In particular, the town of Iten, which sits on the edge of the valley 7,000 feet above sea level, has produced so many marathon runners that it’s known as “the city of champions.”

But there’s no clear factor for the region’s repeated successes. It’s a variety of things like altitude, training, culture, and runners’ determination.

One thing’s for sure — from an early age, local children watch runners crowd the streets and dream of following in their footsteps. A successful career as a distance runner is a way out of poverty.

Here’s what Rift Valley is like.

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Welcome, the sign says, to Iten, a small town on the edge of a plateau on Rift Valley in Kenya that’s home to many of the best runners in the world.

Source: Independent

Rift Valley, which began forming about 40 million years ago, at times reaches 7,000 feet above sea level. Up there, it’s flat, with mild temperatures ranging from 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit all year round, meaning it’s perfect for marathon training.

Source: South Florida Sun Sentinel

Kenya has 50 million people, but only a fraction of the population is responsible for the country’s sporting successes. It’s mostly runners from Rift Valley who have gone on to dominate marathons for decades.

Source: CNN

The latest example of this was on Sunday, when the male and female winners of the New York Marathon were both from Kenya. Geoffrey Kamworor won his second title and Joyciline Jepkosgei won her first. They continued a tradition that’s been going since 1968.

Source: CNN

It began with unknown runner Kip Keino, who ushered in a new age of running for Kenya when he won gold in the 1,500 meter at the 1968 Olympics, despite having a gallbladder infection. It was the first of many …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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