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Canada’s two best marathoners calling Iten, Kenya home for the winter

Two of Canada's top marathoners, Reid Coolsaet and Lanni Marchant, are training in Iten, Kenya in preparation for the 2016 outdoor season.

Iten, Kenya
Lanni Marchant (white top) and Tarah Korir (purple top). Photo: Reid Coolsaet

Despite only having a population of 42,000, the Kenyan town of Iten attracts some of the world’s best distance runners.

Situated at nearly 2,900 metres (7,900 ft) above sea level, the town is known as an ideal place for high-altitude training camps. Making a stint in Iten this winter are two of Canada’s top marathoners, Reid Coolsaet and Lanni Marchant.

Coolsaet ran the second fastest marathon (2:10:28) in Canadian history at the BMW Berlin Marathon in September. Marchant is the Canadian women’s record holder in the marathon after clocking 2:28:00 at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

“Once again there are many familiar faces at the camp and in town,” Coolsaet wrote in his blog. “I keep seeing some of the locals I’ve trained with and tell them I won’t be joining them until I’m fit. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I can update that I’m running with the Kenyans here.”

The centre piece of Iten is the Kamariny Stadium, a dirt track that regularly attracts 200 athletes at a time for interval workouts. The track has become iconic in track and field and has been the home of Kenyan greats David Rudisha, Wilson Kipketer, and Lornah Kiplagat.

Kiplagat is the founder of the the High Altitude Training Centre (HTAC) in Iten, a centre that has become the home for many athletes spending weeks and months training in the small Kenyan town.

Canadians Tarah Korir, the wife of 2012 Boston Marathon winner Wesley Korir, and Speed River athlete John Mason (Coolsaet’s roommate in Kenya) are also in Iten training for the upcoming outdoor season.

The clean water truck is also a big hit after workouts in the sweltering heat.

You can follow along with Coolsaet’s training as he posts daily on the GPS-tracking application Strava.

Marchant is also keeping up with her second profession, a criminal trial lawyer, while in Kenya putting in some work in between her runs:

Senior women getting it done at #discoveryxc in #eldoret #runlikeagirl

A video posted by Lanni Marchant (@lannimarchant) on