Florios’ Travel: the other things we get up to in Africa – Kenya: Nairobi-Iten’s high altitude marathon runners

AFAR Magazine ‘ Runners High’ – Words: Matt Gross. Images: Jason Florio

AFAR Magazine Cover - Kenya

Cover Shot: Jason Florio – Lake Bogoria, Kenya East Africa

The things we Florio’s get up to when we aren’t planning a River Gambia 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 ValleyFlorio was photographing and I was producing –  and we hooked up with the writer, Matt Gross, when we got up to Iten.  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 Great Rift Valley – less than an hours flight from the capital, Nairobi, to Eldoret (then a 30 minute drive to Iten) – where the views are truly gobsmacking!

The Great Rift Valley from Kerio View, Iten, Kenya, East Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

Kenya produces some of the fastest, and finest, runners in the world and one place that many runners from all over the world go to train is in Iten, at the High Altitude Training Centre (HATC) – founded by 4 times World Champion runner, Lorna Kiplagat. When we were staying at the centre, the British Olympic team were there, in training for this years 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 their 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 we followed one day from the back of a truck, as Florio was shooting photos) just for the fun of it, running in their flip flops. We watched as one older woman overtook one of the official marathon runners, in his hi-tec running shoes!

Kenya marathon runners

Iten farmer

Farmer, Iten, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine

School kids run to say ‘jambo!’ – Eldoret, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine

Runners, Kenya

Runners, runners…all around – Iten, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine

Iten, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine

Maasai woman – Lake Bogoria, Kenya © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine

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…

Florio at work – photographing a Maasai farmer- Iten, The Great Rift Valley, Kenya, East Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

You can read the full article here: ‘Runners High’ – AFAR Magazine

Nice one, Mr Florio. Job well done.

Helen x

Florio & Helen – Eldoret, The Great Rift Valley, Kenya, 2011

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

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:

Please click image to watch the video


About River Gambia Expedition 2012

Jason Florio, FRGS: award-winning photojournalist. Helen Jones-Florio: expedition & photography producer. 2009: The couple co-led the West Africa expedition 'A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey' - the first circumnavigation of the small West African country, by foot, with two donkeys and a cart. Resulting in the award-winning series of portraits of Gambian village chiefs (Alkalo's) www.floriophoto.com (under 'Projects') http://930kmafricanodyssey.tumblr.com/ 2012-13: The couple co-led their second West Africa expedition - 'River Gambia Expedition - 1000km source-sea Africa odyssey' over-landing for 400km and canoeing the River Gambia for 720km https://rivergambiaexpedition2012.wordpress.com
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