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New Kenyan track opens to boost British distance hopes

01 February 2014

Double world and Olympic champion Mo Farah is one of many top British distance runners who are set to benefit from a new London Marathon-funded world-class running track opened today in Iten, Kenya.

The new synthetic track, built with a grant from the London Marathon, will be officially opened by the Kenyan-born Dutch athlete, four-time world champion and multiple record breaker Lornah Kiplagat. The track will be a first-class training facility and a considerable improvement on the old, worn-out cinder facility that British athletes have had to make do with for the past five years when attending the British Athletics London Marathon Altitude Programme winter endurance camps.

The funding of the track forms part of the London Marathon’s ongoing commitment to help fulfill one of its founding objectives, to improve the overall standard and status of British distance running.

Iten is the training base for many British international endurance athletes – including Mo Farah, Hannah England and Helen Clitheroe, who regularly attend these British Athletics London Marathon Altitude Training Camps. The London Marathon-backed camps for British runners were first held in 2010 and are now an integral part of British Athletics’ comprehensive endurance programme, They offer British runners the perfect environment to train at altitude as they strive to become future British and world champions.

Iten is also the training base for many of Kenya’s world and Olympic champions, as well as London Marathon winners such as Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany.

London Marathon funding of this track facility will enable British endurance runners to fulfill their potential at this top facility. The facility will be managed by the Lornah Kiplagat Sports Academy and used by the Academy’s pupils – mostly underprivileged Kenyan girls who have a talent for sport but would otherwise lack the opportunity to train.

London Marathon Race Director Hugh Brasher said: “The London Marathon is delighted to have helped fund the new tartan track in Iten, ‘Home of Champions’, where Mo Farah and many of the British endurance squad base their winter training.

"One of the Marathon’s founding objectives was to ‘improve the standard of British distance running’ and this new track is a testament to the lengths that we will go to help achieve that goal".

"The combination of running at altitude, excellent rehabilitation facilities provided by British Athletics, and some of the best training partners in the world have made Iten the Mecca for distance runners. I am sure the advent of this new track will further help our distance runners achieve their goals in future championships and improve their standards."

Farah, who makes his marathon debut at the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 13 April, praised the camps for helping him prepare for the London Olympics. "My preparation for London had been going for many months and years. Part of that was the London Marathon altitude camps," he said.

"As an athlete being able to get away from any distractions and do my training helped me to prepare. I could switch off and channel my energy into areas where it needed to go. Being surrounded by other athletes also helped to motivate me and make what I was doing more enjoyable."

Many other British athletes have benefited from the camps in recent years – and continue to do so with the assistance of the London Marathon’s funding – including:

Paula Radcliffe – World Marathon record holder and 2005 World Marathon Champion. London Marathon winner in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
Hannah England – 2011 World Championships 1500m silver medalist.
Helen Clitheroe – 2011 European Indoor 3000m champion.
Andrew Osagie – 2012 World Indoor 800m bronze medalist.
Scott Overall – 5th at the 2011 Berlin Marathon running 2:10:55 on his debut to qualify for the London Olympics.
Claire Hallissey – ran a personal best of 2:27:44 to finish first British woman at the 2012 London Marathon and qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Freya Murray – ran a 2:28:10 debut marathon at the 2012 London Marathon and went on to finish 44th in the Olympic Marathon.  
Eilish McColgan – 2013 British 3000 metre champion.
Michael Rimmer – 2010 European 800m silver medalist.
Mukhtar Mohammed – 2011 European U23 800m bronze medalist.
Laura Weightman – 2013 European Team 3000m silver medalist.

For more information please contact the Virgin Money London Marathon press office:

Nicola Okey Tel; 020 7902 0182, 07799 661345