Tom Payn’s Kenyan Adventures – Part 1

Run-Fast athlete manager, Tom ‘Kiprop’ Payn has embarked on a month-long trip to Kenya, where he will be combining his training for the Frankfurt Marathon with visiting the Kenyan Run-Fast athletes in their various training venues across the country. Tom will be keeping us up to date with his travels as well as his race preparation.

After an overnight flight to Kenya with very little sleep I arrived in Nairobi at 6:30am and was greeted by Bruce Kilulai, who coaches Run-Fast athletes Polline Wanjiku and Frashiah Nyambura . We had to take a taxi into Nairobi followed by a two hour matatu (a small minibus-type public transport) ride to the town of Embu, which is located in the foothills of Mount Kenya. Anyone who has ever travelled across Kenya in a matatu will know it’s not the smoothest ride in the world but as I was so tired that I managed to sleep most of the way.

Kenyan matatu
Kenyan matatu

On arrival in Embu we stopped off at Bruce’s house for a well needed breakfast and then it was on to what would be my home for the next week, the guest house at St Mark’s Teacher Training College. My room is basic but more than comfortable and has the added bonus of a proper sit down toilet and hot shower, practically 5 star!

We can't stress enough that Kip did not win this towel in the RF comp!
We can’t stress enough that Kip did not win this towel in the RF comp!

We went on a short tour of the college, meeting the principal and various other members of staff. The college has a beautiful grass track where the athletes train and I also found out that this is where the Kenyan National team come to train before the World Cross Country Championships, so it can’t be bad.

St Mark’s Teacher Training College, Embu
St Mark’s Teacher Training College, Embu

In the afternoon we went for an easy 40 minute run with Run-Fast athlete Polline Wanjiku, who invited me to her house for dinner. After training I enjoyed a nice hot shower then walked to Polline’s house. She lives in a tiny room with a tin roof; it has enough room to fit just a bed and a small table. She has to cook outside and use the communal toilets and wash facilities; sometimes it’s easy to forget how little these athletes have. We had the usual ugali and cabbage for dinner (which always tastes better in Kenya). As I was pretty shattered I made my way back to the guest house and fell into a deep 9 hour sleep.

Embu is at an altitude of around 1600m, much lower than Iten which is 2400m. Hopefully this will help me acclimatise before I move up to Iten.

Embu
Embu

Over the next few days I will ease into my running and try something a bit harder later in the week.

So far it’s great to be back in Kenya.

Tom has very kindly offered to contribute his Kenyan diary to the Run-Fast blog, however, if you want to catch up on his previous running adventures then check out his blog; it’s well worth a read, has some great pictures and explains the mystery of why he’s called Kiprop.

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