Ryan Hall and his wife, Sara, have spent the month of September training at Lornah Kiplagat’s High Altitude Training Center in Iten, Kenya, from which Ryan has been sending periodic reports as he prepares to compete in the ING New York City Marathon on November 3. This is his final installment.
As I reflect, my trip to Kenya has met my expectations in every way—and in most ways it has exceeded them. For example, I had heard about Kenyan hospitality but I never thought I would be welcomed as “family” to so many homes and training camps during my time in Kenya. I am convinced that it is impossible to leave Kenya without feeling like you are leaving behind family. Perhaps this is what makes Kenyans so great at running: their ability to develop and cultivate community.
The other aspect of the trip that exceeded my already high expectations was staying at Lornah Kiplagat’s High Altitude Training Center in Iten. Not only were the rooms spacious and the food great—and the tea even better—but the gym, pool, and WiFi internet were a step above the rest. Plus I really enjoyed my day to day interactions with the staff. To my mind, it’s the people that make all the difference.
As I said in my last blog, I definitely got what I came for in my first trip to Kenya. I am sure I will be back, as it is impossible to leave my new family forever.
My last thought about Kenya and what makes the runners here so special is their incredible self-belief. I have never met a group of runners so confident in their abilities, even if they are unproven. For example, you cannot tell the difference between a 2:04 marathon runner and a 2:20 marathon runner in Kenya; they exude the same confidence and self-belief. It seems that everyone here believes they are just one day, or one race, away from hitting it big, and with confidence like that, perhaps they are. They certainly aren't afraid to take a risk and put it all out on the line, whether in a race or in training.
Nothing great ever happens without taking a risk.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg