When the historic Kamariny Stadium in Iten was shut for a major upgrade to a modern sports facility in 2016, there was hope that athletes would start using it again for their training within one year.
The closure would occasion suffering, with more than 2,000 Iten-based athletes travelling to as far as Tambach Teachers Training College and Eldoret’s incomplete Kipchoge Keino Stadium for speed works that are normally done on the track.
Kamariny Stadium upgrade was a joint undertaking between the Ministry of Sports and Elgeyo Marakwet County, but it remained in a sorry state as athletes suffered after the contractor abandoned the site.
The county pumped Sh50 million on terraces in one section of the proposed modern stadium, which remains the only palpable structure in the facility that was once used by the country’s world beaters in athletics. It was to be refurbished at Sh287 million.
Just like other stalled establishments, the towering terraces on the eastern part of the stadium were also beginning to rot away.
On Monday, February 6, Elgeyo Marakwet County established a mud track where a tartan track was set to be built.
Before county construction machines embarked on upgrading and compacting the track on Monday, a new contractor was yet to start work at the site.
The contract for the construction of the iconic Stadium was terminated by the Ministry of Sports in September 2020, and a new one is yet to start the upgrade works.
Athletics coach Elkanah Ruto said that tacticians and athletes have been requesting the county government to make the stalled stadium usable, to enable athletes to prepare for the upcoming Athletics Kenya (AK) track and field weekend meetings.
Ruto said the stadium will be open for training purposes from next week. He added that they were still engaging the county to upgrade the mud track to a murram track to make it usable during the rainy seasons.
“We are glad because the stadium has been made usable after years of closure. We requested the county so that athletes can prepare for the track season,” he said.
He continued: “Lane one, which is crucial for training is not yet ready but are soon meeting as coaches in Iten to have a consensus on the lanes so that we avoid situations where we end up having a substandard training facility. We are happy that athletes can train on the track even in the current state.”
Ruto said a huge number of budding athletes in Iten were no longer able to travel to Eldoret for track sessions, only opting to restrict their training to the roads.
“We are taking the same direction as Kipchoge Keino which is usable when upgrading is underway,” the coach added.
Elgeyo Marakwet Sports Executive Purity Koima said the county was following up on the delay in the completion of the stalled stadium.
“With the track at Kamariny stadium now done, our athletes can train now as we follow up on its completion,” the sports executive said.
Governor Wisley Rotich said routine maintenance at the field would continue until when the refurbishment commences.