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Belgian Champion trains for Dublin cross the Kenyan way

Belgian champion training hard the Kenyan way ahead of Dublin
Peter Njenga for the IAAF
30 October 2001 - Iten, Eldoret - Four time Belgian cross country champion Anja Smolders and 10 others from Belgium and the Netherlands have belatedly learnt they can only beat Kenyans by training like them in a rural setting where the elements of nature play a crucial role.

Smolders is training with the Kenyans at Lorna Kiplagat's High Altitude Training camp nestled at an altitude of 2,400 metres above sea level near St Patrick's Iten, 30km west of Eldoret.

Smolders said she can only improve on the 10th place she finished in Ostende early this year by training with Kenyans.

With Smolders in Iten are Luc Krotwaar who has a 2:12 marathon best and is a four-time Dutch marathon champion. Another notable athlete is Vivian Ruijters a debutant marathoner.

They are supposed to return to Iten in December for further training at this centre, considered one of the best in the country.

Kiplagat, an elite marathon runner, has spent US$200,000 from her earnings on the centre, which offers full board accommodation with 20 rooms complete with flushing toilets, hot water and electricity.

There is also a restaurant, kitchen, reception and a small shop. Although the main focus is on women athletes, men too are welcome. Recently Lorna sent one local girl, Hilda Kibet to Hoge School Amsterdam to study physiotherapy so that she can teach locals on how to prevent injuries during training.

She said the centre will celebrate its first anniversary on November 17 with the first international women's road race in Kenya.

Leading by example, Lorna who will also compete, has invited several top Kenyan women. They include the world marathon best holder Catherine Ndereba; Susan Chepkemei; leading marathoner Joyce Chepchumba, former world 10,000 metres champion Sally Barsosio and Edith Masai.

"It will be the first international women's race in Africa open to elites and to recreational runners," she said.

"It will celebrate the achievement of great Kenyan women runners who have excelled in the world this year."

As a way of repaying society for her great marathon achievements especially in Los Angeles, through her efforts, this centre of excellence has already produced results. Several graduates are have already started their careers well. They include Solomon Busieditch, winner of the 10,000 metres Africa junior title this year; Jane Kiptoo, a silver medallist in last year's junior world championships at 3000m and Linah Cheruiyot, an upcoming 10km racer.

Meanwhile Charles Kamathi and Ndereba graced the Dedan Kimathi Memorial half marathon in Nyeri, 150km north of Nairobi last Saturday. Both runners who hail from Nyeri at the foot of Africa's second highest mountain, Mt Kenya, donated trophies for the winners.

Results of Dedan Kimathi Memorial half marathon:

1: William Rono, 1:05.15; 2. Simon Njuguna, 1:05.22; 3. Benjamin Kipkorir, 1:05.34; 4. Sammy Njoroge, 1:05.57; 5. Abel Odeyo, 1:06.01; 6. Martim Julia, 1:06.13; 7. Peter Ndegwa, 1:06.31; 8. Nepto Ngotho, 1:06.39; 9. John Njeru, 1:07.32; 10. Victor Gatundu, 1:08.00; 11. Philip Muya, 1:08.20; 12. John Tubei, 1:08.23; 13. Morris Mwangi, 1:08.25; 14. David Kibiru, 1:08.32; 15. Jackson Roho, 1:09.10; 16. Dennis Musembi, 1:09.35; 17. David Martim, 1:09.38; 18. Francis Kamau, 1:09.40; 19. Robert Gachiri, 1:09.40; 20. Kamau Muya, 1:09.52.

Women: 1. Jane Gakonyi, 1:20.55; 2. Margaret Chebii, 1:27.38; 3. Anne Wanjiku, 1:28.25 3; 4. Maryann Wangari, 1:30.21; 5. Lucy Wambui, 1:31.36; 6. Lucia Kamau, 1:32.39; 7. Rosemary Mbeiya, 1:34.56; 7. Chichi Ekaidor, 1:35.14; 8. Wanjiru Mwaniki, 1:37.14.