The things we Florio’s get up to when we aren’t planning a West Africa river expedition:
Last year, we were very fortunate to be sent on a photo assignment by travel magazine AFAR to Kenya, East Africa and, in particular, up to the Great Rift Valley. I was producing, Florio was photographing, and we hooked up with the writer, Matt Gross, up there. It has to be one of the most wondrously, beautiful places I have been to yet.
Matt, a New Yorker, is a keen runner so he wanted to write a story based around marathon runners, training at high altitude, in and around Iten, in the Rift Valley – which is less than an hours flight from the capital, Nairobi, to Eldoret (then a 30 minute drive to Iten). Kenya produces some of the fastest runners in the world and one place that many of them train, up in Iten, is at the High Altitude Training Centre (HATC), founded by 4 times World Champion runner, Lorna Kiplagat. And, its not just Kenyan runners. When we were staying at the centre, the British Olympic team were there, in training for the Olympics.
We also spent a fair bit of time with some of the local Kenyan runners (who we met through our great local fixer, Alex Matalambut Keles )- all either top athletes in their field or well on the way. There is an enormous amount of competition in Kenya, when it comes to running though. Everyone, and I mean everyone, seems to run – from small kids, running to school, to elderly women joining in a half marathon, which were following, for the fun of it, running in their flip flops – we watched one older woman overtake one of the official marathon runners, in his hi-tec running shoes!
Kenya is definitely on my ‘places to revisit’ list. A remarkable, welcoming place, where firm friendships were formed. How could you not be attracted to people who smile and laugh so much…
Nice one, Florio. Job well done.
P.S. not to make light of the realities of life for the majority of Kenyans, I wrote a short piece on my observations on some young children we met, whilst following the half marathon up near Kabarnet, in the Rift Valley Kids at play…and work, Kenyan Rift Valley, East Africa
Please click on the image below to watch Jason Florio as he explains how you can own one of his fine art photography prints, from a series of images he will take whilst on the River Gambia Expedition 2012: