To escape the European winter and in order to train on high altitude, Austria’s short-distance pro triathlete Tanja Stroschneider left for a training camp in Iten, Kenya. It’s been over a week since she arrived, and so Stroschneider could share some nice thoughts – the pros and cons – on what it’s like to train in Iten, Kenya, at about 2300-2400 meters of altitude.
For a start, what caught our attention and left us with a big smile, is the fact that a Kenyan lifeguard patrols the pool in an E-swan, of which you can see a video below. It’s a funny situation, and it looks like the perfect pool for a nice family trip, but for triathletes who want to train seriously, we might have to start with the first – and only – con of training in Iten, Kenya. “For us the only possibility to swim in a public pool, a 25-meter indoor pool, is in Eldoret; where you should bring your wetsuit”, Stroschneider explains. “It means we need to take a necessary shuttle for about 45 minutes, which costs approximately 30 US dollar both ways. The driver will then wait for you. You need to be lucky not to be hit by playing children, but this seems to improve. It’s more fun than annoying when the lifeguard or a kid comes across on an E-swan or any other water playing device”, she laughs.
After getting this one small disadvantage out of the way, there is a full list of pros for training in Iten, to Stroschneider’s surprise: “I have to admit that I really underestimated how appropriate Kenya – Iten – is for a high-altitude training camp for triathletes. We stay in Iten, the famous ‘Home of the Champions’ at the edge of the Rift Valley, about 30 km from Eldoret, the domestic airport.”
“Perfect weather conditions”
The first factor that makes training in Iten great is the weather, she continues: “In general, there are perfect weather conditions all year round, with daily temperature highs ranging from 23 to 25 degrees Celsius. And, at least for now, it’s dry all the time.” Another big pro for triathlon training in Iten are the low prices: “It’s relatively cheap. Full board in our decent hotel – more or less European standards, with an incredible view – costs approximately 60 US dollars per night.”
Iten being at about 2300 to 2400 meters of altitude, makes it a great training location for those looking for a serious altitude camp, but maybe less ideal for starters. “It is well suited for basic endurance training, but it’s no good idea for a race-specific preparation or altitude beginners.”
“Safe, friendly and good food”
And to take one piece of prejudice that people might have about Kenya out of the way. “It’s a safe place, at least in this rural area around Iten”, Stroschneider says. “Also, the people are very friendly and relaxed. We get good and healthy food in our hotel; Kerio View, which is run by a Belgian former runner.”
“Perfect for cycling too”
The training location looks like a dream, with stunning views and some nice distractions by animals, like monkeys and giraffes, at least if you go looking for them. “It’s perfect for running here on the dirt roads and tarmac. This was not a surprise, although you must not forget that it’s mostly hilly. Something we didn’t expect: it’s perfect for cycling too, at least if you bring your cross bike. There are many new tarmac roads. You can find flat and hilly courses, and there is very little traffic.”
“A very good place to train for triathletes”
Altogether, Iten would be a nice hotspot for triathlon training, Stroschneider concludes: “All in all, it’s a really good place to train for triathletes, if you don’t want to go swimming more than three or four times a week. Given the high altitude, you’d better not come too close to your race season.”
Some beautiful photos of Stroschneider’s training camp in Iten, below this video of lifeguard on an E-swan