September 25, 2023

A Small Remote Town in Kenya Grapples with a Global Problem

Iten sits on the western edge of Kenya, six hours from the capital city of Nairobi. It’s a scenic blend of red soil, corn fields and homes scattered across the mountainous countryside. But it’s Iten’s high altitude, crisp air and rural simplicity that has drawn long-distance runners to its numerous running camps since the 1960s. The goal here, local runners tell CNN, is to get brand sponsorships, which come with stipends, performance bonuses and sometimes paid travel expenses for races — resources that allow them to participate in international competitions. They dream of bringing home the kind of competition wins that can completely change a life in this part of the world. Prize money in the Boston Marathon, for example, is $150,000 for first place, while the New York City Marathon’s top winners got $100,000 last year. By contrast, Kenya’s gross national income per capita (the country’s total income divided by its population) in 2022 was $2,170. But the revered training ground for long-distance runners, was now making global headlines for the brutal killings of two women athletes, allegedly at the hands of their intimate partners.


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