After years of neglect, Eldoret’s Kip Keino Stadium will be home to Kenya’s first public tartan track outside Nairobi.
Work at the stadium in Kenya’s home of athletics is in full gear, with Uasin Gishu County officials projecting that work on the Mondo track will be completed next month and the track ready to use by January.
The last week has seen contractors pour the red tartan onto the stadium’s track that will be a massive boost to Kenya’s athletics development as it will spare the runners long trips to Nairobi to access the Nyayo National Stadium and Safaricom Kasarani tartan tracks.
The other tartan track in the North Rift at Lornah Kiplagat’s High Altitude Training Centre is a private facility whose costs may be a bit prohibitive for upcoming runners.
Currently, most elites, including world 800 metres record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha and World 1,500 metres champion Asbel Kiprop, among others, have to make do with the soil track at Chepkoilel for intervals and speed work training.
WORRIED BY THE RAINS
Sammy Kitwara, a rising marathon star, is among the galaxy who stand to benefit from the new track.
“Sometimes when it rains it makes it almost impossible to train and one has to wait for the earthen track to dry up.
“For me, I will not be worried by the rains any more because I can do speed walks and diagonals right in the stadium even when it rains,” Kitwara said.
“Training during (the) rainy season has been a big menace. Most athletes have had to brave muddy courses on roadsides. It was all a challenge, but the eventual laying of the tartan track is a big relief,” World champion Kiprop added.
Mondo Engineering Company from Italy started work on the facility on Monday. The facility will thereafter be handed over to the Uasin Gishu County government to finish up other work, including building a perimeter wall around the stadium.
“It means a lot to our county because we have sports tourism as one of our key agendas. The laying of the artificial track will help bring back Kipchoge Stadium’s lost glory. Engineers are expected to be through with the fixing next month,” Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno said.
In 2007, then President Mwai Kibaki allocated Sh100 million for upgrading and renovating Kipchoge Stadium, which had been ignored despite its location next to the homes of Kenya’s world-beating athletes.
Renovation work started in 2012, but there has been an unending blame game that caused delays. The facility almost missed the deadline to host the 35th edition of the Kenya Kecoso games, but the county government kept working on the football pitch that later hosted close to 15 matches.