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Iten attains World Athletics Heritage status

Last updated 3 months ago | By Stephen Rutto

Iten town, Elgeyo Marakwet County [COURTESY]

Kenya's iconic training base - Iten in Elgeyo Marakwet County has received a plaque recognising it as a World Athletics Heritage site.

World Athletics recognised Iten, where over 3,000 athletes train as the sport's heritage in May 2019.

Athletics Kenya North Rift officials led by Chairman Jackson Pkemoi led the officials as well as former athletes in the hand over handed over the plaque to Elgeyo Marakwet County government.

Last year, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe announced Iten and Bekoji town in Ethiopia as recipients of the prestigious heritage landmark Plaque on the eve of the World Relays in Yokohama, Japan.

The Plaque is a location-based recognition which highlights, celebrates and links together iconic and historic athletics careers, cities, competitions, culture, landmarks, performances and venues around the world.

The plaque will be permanently and publicly displayed outside the Governor's office.

Pkemoi said the recognition is a confirmation that Iten is the world's athletics training destination.

Heritage plague handed over to Elgeyo Marakwet County on Tuesday, 24, 2020 from World Athletics. Iten was last year recognized as heritage land mark by World Athletics.[Christopher Kipsang,Standard]

“It has been a long wait and we are excited that the plaque finally arrived in the country from World Athletics headquarters. This means more athletes from across the world will be yearning to train here. They will want to tour the small town that has produced athletics giants,” he said.

Governor Alex Tolgos described the recognition as a boost to efforts by the County to position Iten as a global athletics capital and sports tourism destination.

“We have already developed a plan that we will be launching on December 3rd and among the facilities we intend to set up are a sports park and an elite sports hub,” he said.

Tolgos asked stakeholders in athletics to support efforts to scale up athletics promotion of Iten and across the County saying the County Government has always supported the development of the sport.

Athletics rich athletics history dates back to four decades ago, with St Patrick's High School, an institution which has over years produced a long list of world-class long distance and track athletes churning out hundreds of sportsmen.

Some of the athletics stars who have trained in Iten include Ibrahim Hussein, the three-time Boston Marathons winner and one-time New York City Marathon champion, Peter Rono (the 1988 Olympic 1500m gold medalist), Wilson Boit Kipketer (1997 World 3000m Steeplechase champion), Matthew Birir (1992 Olympic 3000m Steeplechase champion) and David Rudisha, the 2012 Olympic 800m gold medalist and world record holder.

Also in Iten’s list of champions are former World champions Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat, Lornah Kiplagat, Linet Masai, and Mary Keitany among others.

During the 2019 announcement, World Athletics noted that Iten qualified for the landmark plague category.

While nine of the locations announced were in the category of ‘Competition’, for the first time Coe announced recipients in the category of ‘Landmark.’

The Plaque is awarded for an outstanding contribution to the worldwide history and development of the sport of track and field and of out-of-stadia athletics.

Athletics stars who have trained in Iten


Rhonex Kipruto – World under20 10,000m champion

David Rudisha – Olympic and world record holder in 800m

Abel Kirui – Two-time world champion

Wilson Kipsang – Marathoner (retired)


Vivian Cheruiyot – London Marathon 2018

Mary Keitany - Olympic track & field athlete

Edna Kiplagat - Olympic track & field athlete

Florence Kiplagat - Olympic track & field athlete

Joyciline Japkosgei – World half marathon record holder

Valary Aiyabei – Beijing Marathon champion

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