Kenya: Neglected Eldama Ravine Stadium Produced Galaxy of Running Stars

Athletics may be the preserve of North Rift region as it enjoys the bragging rights as the undisputed "home of champions" at least for now.

Many passionate athletics lovers from North Rift region intensify the bragging rights every time an athlete from the region conquers the world, saying trying to match the region's ability to produce world champions is like cutting a mugumo tree with a razor blade.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Many, talented athletes have emerged from little known Eldama Ravine in Koibatek, Baringo County, and are now razor sharp and are matching North Rift's consistent ability to produce world class champions year in, year out and when great honours are at stake they defeat their North Rift region compatriots hands down.

PRODUCT OF MUSERECHI

Mary Keitany, one of Kenya's most accomplished runners, with seven major marathon victories ,including three in London and four in New York, is a product of Muserechi in Eldama Ravine and one stage she used the stadium before conquering the world.

Lawrence Cherono, who won the 123rd Boston Marathon last year and is also reigning Chicago marathon winner and two times Amsterdam Marathon champion (2017, 2018) and Prague Marathon winner in Czech Republic in 2016, also trained at dilapidated in Eldma Ravine.

National Olympics Committee of Kenya President, Paul Tergat, who is the first Kenyan runner to set the world record in the marathon in 2003 in 2:03:55 in Berlin and five times World Cross Country Champion (1995-1999) and half marathon winner in Brussels (1997) and Milan (1998) hails from Kabarnet in Baringo.

The entrance of Eldama Ravine has systematically checked the North Rift dominance and is giving their competitors a good run for their money as it is also producing some of the world's finest track stars.

In fact, not so many athletics enthusiasts in Kenya know that some of the athletes who have put Kenya on top of the world in the recent years in a big way hail from Eldama Ravine and its environs in the expansive county.

Unless you are a keen detail seeker, the obvious conclusion that many athletics lover tends to make is that the dominance of Kenyans in middle and long distance running could solely be traced to North Rift region.

However, amidst this glittering track records, Kerkwony Eldama Ravine stadium in Eldama Ravine Town is in bad shape and has no institutional athletics training grounds to inspire young athletes.

Overgrown grass rings the stadium outside the perimeter wall a clear indication the facility has been abandoned and neglected.

There is no signage to identify the field, and what is visible are two pillars after the gate was vandalized.

As you enter into the stadium, patches of muddy waters welcome you and unless you are in gumboots, the entrance is a nightmare unless you are mart in hope-step and jump tactics because the next thing is you will find yourself splashing your clothes with muddy waters.

CASH COW

The chain link fence that was erected as temporarily measures to keep off livestock and passerby has been cut by vandals and what remains are stone pillars in this facilities that has reportedly been a cash cow for the defunct Town Council and successive county regimes.

The delay in renovating the stadium has seen Ravine Roses, a leading flower farm and exporter of cut-flowers who are willing to partner with the county government to upgrade the stadium and other infrastructure in the 30 acres' facility withhold their support.

Millions of shillings are reported to have been pumped to renovate the stadium but athletes are still waiting for serious upgrading of the facility that could instantly turn into a breeding ground of future world track stars.

The track is overgrown with grass and is full of potholes and is scattered with patches of swamps while the steeplechase site resembles a dumping site and is an eyesore and what is remaining are three protruding metal bars.

The Stadium that is used by Ravine Roses FC, Ravine Football Center FC, Alphata, Boda Boda, Home Boys and a host of youth teams in Football Kenya Federation Division Two, sub-county and county leagues has no stand.

The VIP stand is ramshackle wooden structure that resembles a Jua Kali shed with falling rusty iron sheet.

An ablution block cum changing room is not in good shape either as it is overgrown with grass while its windowpanes are broken.

Baringo County Governor Stanley Kiptis who is also a former athlete and a volleyball player said his administration is processing land documents for all sporting facilities in the county to enable a faster upgrading.

"I'm a former sportsman and my administration is committed to see Kerkowny Eldama Stadium is up and running. Once we acquire the title deed funds will be set aside for upgrading as already we have the designs in place," said Governor Kiptis.

With this commitment from a governor who is former sportsman, it remains to be seen whether he will walk the talk. Only time will tell whether he will make a difference to sportsmen as he serves his first term in office.

The site where the dilapidated stadium is located has deep and rich history and nostalgic memories that not so many residents of cosmopolitan Eldama Ravine town know the origin of the name.

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