Reigning Commonwealth Games 5,000m Champion Stella Chesang is leading a number of crowded foreign athletes training in Iten ahead of Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and world championships in Oregon.
Chesang, who outshone Kenyans at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia to win gold extended her lead when she competed at the North Rift Athletics Kenya championships last Saturday at Tambach Teachers Training College beating the hosts to win the 5,000m title.
The Ugandan runner, who is also the world mountain running championships champion said she is training in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet county ahead of the Commonwealth Games and the world championships.
“Iten is a good place for training ahead of many championships across the world. I have been training here as part of my preparations to retain my Commonwealth Games title,” said Chesang.
During the Saturday championships, she clocked 16:08.03 for the 5,000m title beating hosts Maureen Chepkoech (16:07.08) to second as world under 20 3,000m silver medalist Zena Jemutai Yego completing the podium in 16:36.05 and Jackline Jerono coming 4th in 17:13.6.
She said that competing in Kenyan championships is the best way to train with champions who can provide the basis for the titles.
“I came here to run with great athletes in Kenya since the majority of them train together in Iten. This is my route map to Commonwealth games and world championships,” said the former Africa Championships 5,000m bronze medalist.
Chesang was not the only foreign but a few South Sudanese nationals, Ugandans among other nations who are camping in Iten.
The regional chairman Jackson Pkemoi said they received a great number of foreigners and that it cannot affect their programme after they were allowed to run.
“For the foreigners, we allowed them to compete but our focus is on our North Rift team which will be heading to Nairobi for the national championships. We have a great team that we are sure will perform well,” said Pkemoi.
Popularly called kabila, Pkemoi added that they all competed as guests and they could have had many if they had done enough publicity of the championships.
“We lacked finance to do more publicity otherwise we could have had so many foreigners here competing. This county (Elgeyo Marakwet) has many foreign runners than the rest of the country,” added Pkemoi.