The legendary Kamariny Stadium of Iten is back to Life!
Updated: Jul 31
The Kamariny Stadium is probably the most mythical place of Iten - Home of Champions. Its re-opening in February 2023 is the opportunity to present you the iconic running track that is part of kenyan history and in particular of the development of running in the country.
The history of the track is especially unique as it has been officially opened by the Princess Elizabeth in January 1952. This event took place during her first visit of Kenya which was the first step of her 6 months Commonwealth Tour. At this time, Elizabeth was not the Queen of United Kingdom yet.
During her stay in Kenya, her father King Charles VI died which made her traveling back to UK in emergency for his funerals. The opening of the Kamariny Stadium during the Kamariny Agricultural Show by Elizabeth was one of her last official representation before being crowned as Queen.
A unique situation
The Kamariny Stadium is also unique due to its topographic situation. The track is located along the great Rift Valley, offering large views on the escarpment and bringing to the place some magics. It is located at an exact altitude of 2'355 meters above sea level.
A growing interest
Since its opening, the track has welcomed a growing number of athletes, mostly kenyans up to the 2000's when foreign coaches and athletes got interest into Iten as a training place. By the time being and with the development of social medias, the awareness of the track grew and a continuously larger amount of people heard about it and came to visit.
The world's most famous dirty track ?
The Kamariny Stadium offers a cinder track also known as "dirty track" that was historically built to a British standard where four laps measures one imperial mile. With this unusual length and altitude, athletes mostly focus on their feelings rather than their times made for "400 meters".
So many world champions and olympic athletes have run on the track in the past : Joyce Chepkirui, Vivienne Cheruiyot, Dennis Kimetto, Wilson Boit Kipketer, Edna Kiplagat, Lorna Kiplagat, Moses Kiptanui, Daniel Komen, Brigid Kosgey, Moses Masai, Linet Masai and David Rudisha as well as several international famous runners such as Zane & Jake Robertson from New Zealand, Bob Tahri from France and Julien Wanders from Switzerland. The Kamariny track is probably the world's most famous dirty track.
A statement reinforced by the recognition by World Athletics of Iten as a World Athletics Heritage Site in May 2019, confirming the contribution of Iten to global athletics history and giving additional credit to the importance of Kamariny in Iten's history, as the only athletic track of the area.
Renovation of the Track
In 2017, the government of Kenya decided to renovate the track to make it a pride of the country. They allocated a budget of Ksh 287 Mio (approx 2.6 Mio USD at that time) to create a national sport center including the construction of a World Athletics homologated tartan track, the creation of a football pitch, bleachers, changing rooms and a VIP pavilion. Unfortunately, in September 2020, the National Development Coordination Committee suspended the works after the Contractor failed to meet the set date they had agreed on with Sports Kenya. The allocated budget had been fully used without any significant output being visible.
In 2023, the political elections take place in Iten and one of the candidates, Wisley Rotich, makes the reopening of Kamariny Stadium one of the priority of his program. After being elected, the new Governor keeps his words and ensures the track can be used by all athletes. No tartan track at this point, but the satisfaction of the community to be able to train in proper conditions and for free. The Kamariny Stadium is back to life !
When should you go to Kamariny Stadium ?
Track days are mostly Tuesday and Thursday but the track is also used the rest of the time by athletes making strides just after their easy run in the Kamariny Forrest, a green lung located just next to the track. In total, more than 2'000 athletes weekly use the track and up to 300 runners at the same time, creating endless colourful trains of runners. The access to the track is currently free.
Several reports are planning some impressive developments for the Kamariny area. A project of Elite Hub made by Iten Municipality Economic Plan (2020) is for example planning to build a second track for warm-up, an aquatic center and a medical & therapy center :
Once completed, the Stadium is expected to look as follow :
Our training center, The Swiss Side Iten, is located only 1.8 km away from the Kamariny Stadium, which is accessible in less than 10 minutes by running.
While waiting to experience this amazing track, feel free to check this video of the Kamariny Stadium.