It’s the start of a usual day in a very unusual place. The sky is dark, cold and damp, the mist thick in the mountain air. Lines of children in drab grey uniforms scurry to school along the muddy road. Then suddenly, a group of runners swoops past in brightly colored tracksuits.
These are the world’s best athletes, and this is their home.
The little village of Iten, two kilometres above sea level in Kenya’s Western Province, is where more than 800 Kenyan runners, including world record holders and Olympic favorites, live and train. The tiny mountain town has become almost mythological in running circles, producing world-beaters year after year.
But as Kenya modernizes and villagers move to the city, the country’s famed talent pool is shrinking. Some in Iten now worry that as running looses its appeal as a profession, the country’s dominance in the sport could be waning.