The 2017 Distance Running Trip to Kenya and South Africa was a great success, with so many memorable moments that it was difficult to pick ‘highlights’. Possibly the moments that will remain with the students the most are when they met some of the most prominent distance runners and coaches in the world in the Kenyan town of Iten, known as ‘Home of Champions’. These included runners Dennis Kimetto, (current World Marathon Record Holder), Abel Kirui, (Double World Marathon Champion, Chicago Marathon Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist), and Helah Kiprop, (winner of the Tokyo Marathon), who each signed a Westlake running vest.
The team visited St. Patrick’s High School in Iten, a school that has produced 26 World Champions, and were honoured to spend an hour with the legendary coach, Brother Colm O’Connell, and observe him running a coaching session. Among the famous runners Brother O’Connell has coached is Olympic and World Champion, David Rudisha and the students were thrilled to receive a pair of his spikes and a Kenyan running singlet that he wore at the Olympic Games in Rio. These will be proudly displayed in the Westlake Running Office. The Westlake students had fun racing Kenyan school students in Iten, which sits at 2,450m above sea level.
In South Africa the group enjoyed three days in the Kruger National Park, spotting the Big Five,and visited the Elephant Sanctuary and Lion and Rhino Park near Hartbeespoort Dam, where they were able to interact with elephants, lions and cheetah cubs. They also visited the Langa Township, Robben Island and Table Mountain in Cape Town.
There was more racing in Johannesburg and Pretoria, where Murdoch McIntyre won a race over 9km with Westlake having the first six runners in.
This was the trip of a lifetime for these young athletes. They all gained an enormous amount from the experience of running at altitude, meeting some of the biggest names in World distance running, and seeing some of the sights and wildlife of Africa. They are greatly indebted to their coach, Mr Theuns Strydom, for organising the trip and for his unwavering commitment to Westlake running.