Regrets by a veteran runner of not visiting Kenya while he was a younger athlete and the huge difference he thinks would have made to his life:

Johan Derycke; runner and coach

As usual, many sports tourists, runners and agents who had come to train and remain active during the winter season are finally heading back to Europe and North America after spending their time here in Kenya. I was lucky to catch up with a 55 year old, Belgian runner in Eldoret recently, spoke with him and learned so much about running in Europe and why he thinks that a visit to Kenya can transform any runner’s life in many ways. For him, he wishes he had come to when he was a bit younger.
Derycke Johan visited Kenya for the first time last year, but within a year he was already back to gain more experience for his career as an a coach and a former runner who started running at the age of 21 years. He thinks that was quite late to start running. So far, his personal best times from track to the roads are; 1:52 for 800m, 3:50 for 1500m, 8:30 for 3000m, 14:27 for 5000m, 29:75 for 10K, 1:02:22 for 20K and 2:32 for the marathon.
His major regret is that he never made a decision to come and train in Kenya while at his competitive age.

“I think, on my running profile now as a runner, I could be having 13:50s for the 5000m, 28:50s for the 10,000m and 2:15 for the marathon. That would have changed life in many ways. It would have placed me at the top of the Belgium runners and this would have come with many possibilities available to any top professional runner,” Derycke said.
He is not just talking out of wishful thinking. Derycke has advised a number of the athletes he trains to make trips to train in Kenya and it has paid. One of his athletes, Ward D’Hoore, had never won any big race before in Belgium, but a trip to Kenya last December was all he needed to place him on top of the rest at a major  Belgium Cross Country race. Two other of his athletes have also visited Kenya for training ending up with impressive results when they got back to Europe.
Two of Derycke's athletes on podium of a XC event in Belgium
This is the advice that Derycke has for any runner in Europe who wants to achieve the best in his running. “Come to Kenya for 3-4 weeks before your major race and you will be flying there.”
Below are some of the observations that he made while in Kenya.
First, there are no running clubs here. Any athlete can meet any group and decide to join them for training. In Belgium, athletes train in a specific club with specific coaches and specific tracks.
Another observation he made is that there are many good places to train at high altitudes here with good temperatures throughout the year.
Besides that, there are also so many world best athletes to train alongside. This can be very motivating as one will be doing exactly what the best in the world are doing.
“Another advantage of training in Kenya is the availability of many rough roads. The roads in Belgium have many cars and the only places to train are in the parks. Here in Kenya, one can be able to take a straight 25km route. This would mean 25 laps in a park in Belgium,” he added.

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