“Mzungo, Kimbia!” Translation: White man, run! If you travel to the Rift Valley and walk on the clay dirt roads you’ll hear this encouragement, receive the admiration and looks of pure joy from young Kenyan school children every run. Eventually, you’ll start to feel as if you’re their Santa Claus. The sight of a foreign runner in their land is something very special. And at an elevation of over 7,000 feet, dirt roads all around in every direction and thousands of elite runners abound there is truly something special about running in the Rift Valley of Kenya.
Rise to alarm of the rooster clucking, get out of bed and get pushed by some of not just the fastest, yet also the friendliest runners in the world. We’ve listed some routes in the areas of Eldoret and Itan — epicenters of running in the Rift Valley, where the Kenyan greats have called home and trained since their rise to glory at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Some of the loops included have the footprints of world record holders, but don’t let that scare you. Quite often many will run at a recovery pace known as the “Kenyan Trot.” Maybe you’ll be lucky to be joined by a new fast friend.
This was written by Chris Barnicle, our All American runner contributing editor, who spend several months training in this region a few years ago.