Home > Toby's Blog > A trip of a Lifetime to Kenya

A  trip of a lifetime to Kenya!

Your tour guide to Running-Kenya-philanthropy is Toby Tanser, author of the 90s best seller, Train Hard, Win Easy, editions I & II, and More Fire, How to Run the Kenyan Way.  Toby lived and trained with the world’s best in the 90s and has remained friends with the top runners ever since.  For charity?  Toby’s foundation built East & Central Africa’s 1st public children’s hospital & 6 public schools (named after world champs etc).  His in-law is the only man to run a sub 2 marathon; Eliud!  (SweatElite.co writes when reporting from Eliud’s training camp, “Athletes repeatedly claimed with pride that the mantra of all Kenyan athletes is “train hard, win easy.”)

thweThanks to highperformancewest.com for the cool shot!

Mix a holiday in a dream country (amazing beaches, big five wildlife) with philanthropy.  Come to Kenya, and not only see, but take part, in our projects! We’ve just had a group.. and this is what they did for a jam packed purposeful week.
(FRIDAY) Fly into Kenya and stay the night in Nairobi at a choice of great hotels. There is even a Sheraton inside the airport, but if you are willing to travel out…


Kenya is world famous for its stunning array of beautiful hotels & lodges

(SATURDAY) The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we pick you up and drive from Nairobi, through Naivasha, past the Delamere estates, up to Eldoret, driving along the edge of the stunning Rift Valley, passing the equator (and of course, stopping for picture).  You are dropped at the choice of your hotel/lodging.  The EKA hotel in Eldoret, or HATC in Iten are two of the most highly recommended, if you are a runner, you’ll choose Iten!


The world famous High Altitude Training Centre, in Iten, Kenya.  Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, and many other Olympians have resided at Kenya’s premier training camp.

(SUNDAY) The next morning a visit to a local church of a variety of denominations, a quick lunch and then a drive to meet the legendary Brother Colm and spend the afternoon chatting to perhaps the world’s most famous running coach, relaxing looking over the Kerio Valley at one of the most stunning views you can imagine.


The stunning Kerio Valley

Colm’s history of Kenya spans over 40-years.  He knows the history of Shoe4Africa very well, he hosted Toby when he first came to Iten, in 1995.


Brother Colm with a world record holder he coaches, David Rudisha.

Next we catch up with a few international world class running stars like Ronald Kwemoi, 3:28 for the 1500-meters, in Iten center.


Ronald Kwemoi, with a 3:28 1500m is one of the world’s fastest ever runners!

(MONDAY) The next morning we visit the Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital; East & Central Africa’s only public kids hospital.  You will meet a ton of kids, hear some truly amazing stories, and find yourself dancing with the kids, handing out teddy bears, watching the staff dance and energize the kids making a lot of new friends (we treat over 400 patients each day).  Want something calm?  Well, you can read to the kids too – they love story time.


Yep, all these kids want to dance with you


You are going to make friends, like cancer patient Joy, who you’ll probably never forget.

In the afternoon we then drive to the Shoe4Africa Janeth Jepkosgei (world 800m champ & Olympic Silver medalist), past the famous Kenyan Tea fields, where you will see tea pickers, to the primary school where the kids have dances also for you to join, and you will swap knowledge telling them about your homeland; they are eager listeners.


Be prepared to be asked lots of questions!

Shortly after we’ll drive to a secondary school, the Shoe4Africa Martin Lel School. Martin won London thrice and NYC twice… it is a school of runners once featured on CNN!  Be prepared for more games and bonding.


(TUESDAY) The following day the World Steeplechase legend, Moses Kiptanui, the first man to break 8-minutes, picks you up from your hotel and drives you to the Shoe4Africa Moses Kiptanui school – more tree planting, talking, listening to the kids are sharing stories after a stunning drive to the top of the Cherangani Hills past views you can not describe.


The first man to break 8-minutes for the steeplechase, your ‘Wednesday host’


Next some rally driving as we race to a ground breaking event on a new project (another school for Shoe4Africa this time). Get ready for traditional dancing (yes you’ll dance too), to receive traditional gifts, hand out candy to the kids, and throw a shovel in the ground.


On the way we go to the rural house of an old Kenyan man who was born almost 100-years ago to see how ‘Kenyans lived’… we will bring him along too.  Moses takes you to a restaurant in Eldoret when you return and you will meet yet another famous Kenyan runner, or two who (like Moses) have stories a plenty.  Eldoret is home to more elite Kenyans than anywhere else in Kenya, hands down.  “Who’s that guy waiving at us?”  “That’s Geoffrey Mutai, the course record holder at both Boston & New York City marathons…”


At this school function we bump into Wesley Korir, a Boston Marathon winner.

(WEDNESDAY) The next day you will see the site of our next ‘big’ project; it will be Sub Saharan Africa’s 1st Children’s Cancer Hospital (private or public).  As you view the site you will be greeted by (yet) another Shoe4Africa Ambassador, the marathon world record holder Mary Keitany.  After refreshments we are driving with Mary to her rural home deep inside the heart of Kenya in a place called Torokwonin.  It was here she was born on top of a hill in the ‘middle of nowhere’ and we’ll spend the day with her and the kids of the newly opened Shoe4Africa Mary Keitany School, playing volleyball, doing the high jump the African way, and running relay races before interacting with the kids inside the classroom.  You will be asked to take part.


World record holder in the marathon Mary (right) teaches you the African High Jump.

The kids are so happy you came and hang onto your every word.  As you leave in the afternoon it is like parting from a great friend.  Our friends brought second hand books to donate and the kids love them.  Mary hands out lots of training gear – the kids get shoes from their hero.


Mary & Charles introduces you to the class of kids who have been waiting all morning for you to arrive and have songs and poems to share.

(THURSDAY) The next morning a famous marathoner, who was the runner-up at the NYC marathon, is joining you for the renowned Iten fartlek run at ‘Tairi Mbili’ – yes, you are going to join the Kenyan runners for a few miles and there are usually a couple of hundred runners ready to leave at 9 a.m. The specifics of the fartlek are given on the morning and all abilities are welcomed. But don’t worry if you want to just watch, as we have a pace car, water, and cameras to follow you. Our runners passed former world record holder Florence Kiplagat!


Doug leading the fartlek, off his shoulder is the 2nd place finisher at the NYC marathon!

We will visit the famous HATC camp (unless you chose to lodge here), you’ll take tea, meet more famous runners, and see where Mo Farah used to come for several years to train (lodging in room 25). Fancy a swim in the pool? Or you can attend the renowned ‘core strength classes’ each evening with the local elite runners to see how you match up.


Shauna stops her run outside the famous St. Patrick’s high school, at one time had four high schoolers who were sub 4-min milers, and has produced more Olympic runners than any other school in history.  You can visit the ‘field’ of champions where a series of Olympians have their own trees planted.

Then we jump back in a car and drive to the women’s empowerment group – you’ll see our avocado project where we grow fruits to give the sick kids, you’ll meet the ladies who are part of our domestic violence sufferers group and hear how they are fighting back to make a better life.  They cooked lunch for you.


If you ever wanted to hear about the raw realities of life you will hear it.  These ladies, dressed in traditional clothes take you running as a group (it is a slow jog and they sing songs constantly as we travel) through our adjoining natural forest (lots of monkeys and an amazing array of birds) and they will show you their mud homes, how they live, and give you a sample of Kenyan life. Get ready to plant more trees, milk a cow, run with the ladies back around the village and see their domestic life in full.


(FRIDAY) The last day it is back to the hospital.  Fifteen kids from the Oncology ward are coming to play football with you (Soccer to the Americans) on our new hospital astro-turf pitch.  It is hard to imagine these are the kids who were getting chemo yesterday; with the music booming everyone’s in a great mood.  The world record holder in the marathon Eliud Kipchoge turns up to join us for the morning.


He is coming to play too with the kids (he scores a goal!), also sign pictures and he has got a specially signed book for you to take home!  We then relax in the quiet of our office as he tells you about his motivation in life, and future goals.


Eliud gives you his signed book for helping the Kenyan kids.


Oops, we are almost ending our week and you have not even shopped for souvenirs!  We take you to the place where the locals shop to get the best prices (most $1 to $10) and offer a large variety of hand made gifts.  We hope you didn’t buy the trinkets at the over-priced tourist safari camps!


After a leisurely lunch we drop you at the local international airport for a quick 40-minute flight to get you back to Nairobi for your evening flight back home!

Some people fly to the Masai Mara for a Safari, drive to Nakuru for a (cheaper) safari, or others take a flight to relax at the Mombasa, Malindi, or Lamu beaches… a domestic flight ticket costs only around $60 one way.  You can also take the ‘lunatic express’ train from Mombasa to Nairobi as Ernest Hemingway or Winston Churchill did.

Shoe4Africa’s mission is to improve the lives of those living in poverty.  We’ve been doing projects in Kenya since 1995, hoping to make a difference, and we’d be honored if you join us to see how we do our work.

Don’t take our word for it, read more on Kenyan running – article


Hey, don’t take our word for it!  What does NAOMI CAMPBELL think of Kenya?  Have a look at her Kenyan house. Video


Most visitors quickly understand why this land is called Magical Kenya!

Watch a video about Iten and Brother Colm O’Connell LINK

Watch a video by Matt Holton on youtube with his 56-minutes of Iten Experience LINK

Flotrack video of Iten Running 12 minutes LINK