David Macharia @PeopleSports11
Talk about Kenyan athletics avoids a mention about Baringo County. Despite its huge talent, many runners from the hilly, scenic region are wrapped up together with those from Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet or Uasin Gishu counties with no special mention at all.
This is because most of the runners from Baringo migrate at early age to go and hone their talents in those counties where training camps are well developed.
That way they lose their home county identity. The only time the county mention is when athletics exploits of Paul Tergat, the current National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) president, the Birir brothers Mathew and Jonah or Joshua Chalang’a is being discussed.
Tergat is a national icon, having won five World Cross Country titles and several medals at World Championships and Olympic Games. For several years now, the County has been struggling to produce top stars and catch national attention again. All is not lost and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Leaders have shown interest in transforming Baringo to be in the league of Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi, Uasin Gishu counties and Ngong in the outskirts of Nairobi as a destination for athletes seeking high altitude training environment.
The leaders, led by Governor Stephen Kiptis, agree that Baringo got athletics talent and all that is required is setting up training facilities and the county will be a source of champions again.
The huge talent was on display at the weekend during a race sponsored by a Mombasa lawyer, Joseph Tarus at Mochongoi where both young and old showed their running prowess.
“We are soon going to hear runners from Mochongoi winning races in America, Australia, UK and China,” Governor Kiptis said supporting plans to build Mochongoi High Altitude Training camp in the area, which is the highest place in Baringo, standing 2,400m above sea level.
The governor said the county has so far five private camps. He said from next year, his government will set aside more money to promote sports and urged residents to be lobbying for more funding of sports when they go for public participation meetings.
Baringo Woman Representative, Gradwell Tungo said establishment of training camps in the county will keep youth from insecurity activities.
She said there is need to reach youth in the insecurity-prone Tiaty sub-county to sensitise them that they can make money out of running instead of preoccupying themselves with cattle rustling. In addition to the fun races for the young and old, there was a 15km road race for the elite runners.