By Jonathan Komen And Kevin Tunoi
Kenyan athletes’ dream to have a tartan track for speed work training would come true soon.This is after completion of a 400m tartan track at the proposed Lorna Kiplagat Sports Academy in Iten.
Upon its completion, the facility will be the first tartan track outside Nairobi – after Nyayo National Stadium and Moi Sports International Centre, Kasarani.
Sports minister Ababu Namwamba will preside over the groundbreaking on Saturday on the site situated along Iten-Eldoret road.
Elite local athletes among them Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah of Britain, who is already training at the High Altitude Training Centre (Hatc), will also grace the occasion.
Naturalised Dutch woman Lorna Kiplagat and her husband Pieter Langerhorst, the brainchild of the project, said they developed the idea way back in 1997 when Lornah won her first major marathon, the Los Angeles Marathon. The project is estimated to cost one billion shillings.
“With the money she won she started the High Altitude Training Centre in Iten, now the place to be for top athletes from all over the World.
In 1998 Lornah built the HATC and invited young talented women to stay at the Hatc and build up a career in running,” said Kiplagat, who won the 2007 World cross-country championships in Mombasa.
Kiplagat, a former world half marathon record holder, said she came up with the idea after realising Iten was the world’s best training area.
“We have been to the Boulder, Colorado, USA and St Moritz in Switzerland, areas known to be ideal training areas. But we think Iten is the best of them all,” Kiplagat said yesterday at the HATC in Iten.
The runner, who was born and bred in Kipsaos in Keiyo South, went on: “The institution will serve as a bridge between form four and university for talented girls from underprivileged families.