About 200km North East of Nairobi at the foot of Mt. Kenya, in the high altitude town of Nyahururu, Kenya`s highest town, is a club called Thompson Falls Athletic Club. This club is located just a few miles from the majestic Thompson Falls named after Joseph Thompson a European from Scotland who was the first man, to see the water falls at the base of Aberdare Ranges. He not only lent his name to the falls but also to the elegant Thompson`s gazelle.
The main advantage about training in this area is that it is situated at an altitude of between 3000m to 7800m above sea level. This is particularly advantageous to long distance runners as it activates/strengthens the cardiovascular system, and this makes training at the altitude very hard. The runners are put through a training regime worked out by Coach John Kariuki.
Stephen Ndungu, started the club after some young men and female runners approached him for help, most of them from poor background, orphans or from single parents. He invested his life savings to assist in their upkeep. Ndungu, supports talented young and upcoming runners who are determined to conquer the world and want exposure. Started in July 1998 the club currently has 23 runners, who range from 1500m to marathoners. In 2002 the club name got changed to Mt. Kenya High Altitude Training Camp and now registered as Mt. Kenya Talents Development Centre. [MKTDC]
Ndungu started the running while at Longonot Primary School near Mt. Longonot in Naivasha – Nakuru District when he was only nine years old and in standard four. His vision is helping young and poor children across the country and hopes to build a centre for street and orphaned children and inspire them to take athletics. Champions aren`t made in the street or villages, they are made from something they have deep inside them : a desire, a dream and a vision” , said the marathon runner.
The first success story of this project is Samuel Kamau Wanjiru.