Kenya: Run Down Rumuruti Stadium a Pain for Athletes Who've Put Laikipia On the Map

Just the mention of Rumuruti to people who know the topography of Laikipia County paints a picture of wilderness.

The region is endowed with abundant wildlife, including rare species such as wild dogs, Grevy's zebra, and Jackson's hartebeest which are a tourist attraction.

Rumuruti is a bird watchers' paradise, it has more than 250 species of birds, unique hotels and lodges.

Away from the alluring natural beauty, Rumuruti has produced top athletes who have done Kenya proud in major championships.

One of the most prominent athletes who used Rumuruti Stadium at one stage of his career is track legend John Ngugi who won the World Cross Country titles five times - in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1992.

Japan-based Martin Irungu Mathathi, who won the 10,000 metres bronze medal at the 2007 World Athletics Championships comes from Rumuruti.

Mathathi also won the Fukuoka Marathon (2013), Gifu Half Marathon, Sapporo Half Marathon (2012), Sendai Half Marathon in Japan (2010), Great North Run Half Marathon (2011) and the 10km Great Edinburg Run.

Another top athlete from the area is Joseph Ebuya who ended the decade-long dominance of Ethiopians by winning the senior men's 2010 IAAF World Cross Country title.

Ann Karindi Mwangi, who won the women's 5,000m Osaka Grand Prix in 2010, is also a product of Rumuruti.

However, Rumuruti town which is set to be the new headquarters of Laikipia County Government, according to the Rumuruti Municipality Integrated Development Plan of 2018-2022, does not have proper sports facilities. Rumuruti Stadium is not up to standard.

The stadium sits on seven acres along the Solomon Kiguru road at the heart of the bustling town. A chain link fence has helped keep away land grabbers. The stadium is secure and livestock is not allowed inside the facility which is usually under lock and key.

But the stadium is in sorry state. The pitch has overgrown grass and the ablution block has no constant supply of water. A makeshift structure serves as the main VIP stand.

John Longisa, who coaches of Biba Football Club which uses the stadium for training, urged Laikipia County Governor Ndiritu Muriithi's administration to upgrade the facility for the sake of the youth.

"The stadium has no stands, it has a makeshift structure that resembles a boda boda shade. There are no changing rooms for players. During matches, players usually change in the open and when it rains it is a nightmare," said Longisa.

Other teams which use the Rumuruti Stadium for domestic leagues include Kenya Prisons Service, Manyatta Football Club , Karuao, Maji Mingi, Kapkures FC, and Eight Stars FC, among others.

However, there is hope for local athletes. The municipal board manager, Maina Kibocha, told Nation Sport they plan to upgrade the football field. He said, "We have set aside Sh1 million to put up a VIP stand."

Kibocha said they had intended to plant grass in the stadium but the plan was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The running track is also in bad shape, it has overgrown grass making it difficult for athletes to train.

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