In this article, we take an inside look at the training grounds where Uganda's endurance running champions are made. The simple running ovals where Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo, Stephen Kiprotich and Uganda's upcoming endurance stars carry out their speed training.
These fields are where the devastating speed that has come to the athletics world attention is honed - the running tracks of Kapchorwa, Uganda's 'Land of Champions'.
Boma Grounds / Kapchorwa Field
Altitude: ~1940 metres a.s.l
This unassuming patch of red dirt in the centre of Kapchorwa Town is the traditional speedwork venue for running teams/camps based in the town. What was initially a basic hoed oval, work began in late 2019 to renovate the area into a new, levelled maram track. As is often the way here, work was severely delayed due to issues with funding and squabbles over land ownership. For over a year, the athletes lost their central training hub and had to relocate their speed sessions to venues some distance away from their camps.
The new surface was finally completed in May 2021 and the athletes could return to the town for their speed sessions.
Forest (UWA) Track
Altitude: ~2260 metres a.s.l
The highest functioning* track in the area, this private rudimentary grass track is on land owned by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and sits in an incredible forest clearing some 300m higher than Kapchorwa Town. To access it, you will need to take on the steep climb away from town and contend with lumps, bumps (and the occasional grazing cow) as well as less oxygen than at the other tracks but the views are sensational! The track is predominately used by runners from the UWA team.
*the running track at the new High Altitude Performance Centre will be at 2550 metres a.s.l but this construction has been beset by delays and has no realistic completion date. There is another private, fenced complex constructed by Joshua Cheptegei and NN Running just down from this development that is not in use at the time of writing.
Sebei College Track
Altitude: ~1800 metres a.s.l
For over a year, this was the only available track for Kapchorwa's athletes. A hoed oval on a playing field inside the grounds of a college frequented by several famous Sebei athletes. Around 15 minutes drive (or boda ride) down from Kapchorwa Town, this simple single-track was where the hard yards were put in for Joshua Cheptegei's World cross-country title and subsequent world records.
Athletes will be pleased that the completion of the track at Boma Grounds means that they no longer have to cover the additional transport costs (or significant extra run mileage!) to reach this track.
Altitude: ~2045 metres a.s.l
This track in the village of Chemwania was constructed with the help of Global Sports Communication / NN Running Team. It's not actually in Kapchorwa, instead in nearby Kween District, a 25 minute drive away.
Built on the grounds of a primary school, it is principally used by the NN Running Team Kapchorwa camp including Joshua Cheptegei as well as the school and many athletes from the local community.
One last thing....