What sets the Complete Sports Training Center apart is that it is a holistic training center.
Just after 6am, John makes his way to the gate of the camp, ready for the morning run. At 6:15 p.m., he was joined by about 20 other elite runners who live at the Complete Sports Training Center in Kaptagat, a village 25 kilometers east of Eldoret in Kenya‘s former Rift Valley. At an altitude of 2400 m, it is ideally located to offer top runners an excellent training environment.
What sets the Complete Sports Training Center apart is that it is a holistic training center. Founder and former German national runner Bernd Breitmaier explains the concept: “We believe that human beings consist of body, mind and soul – and you could say the social dimension to that. Holistic therefore includes physical, mental, spiritual and social aspects. We train our staff to support athletes in these four dimensions.”
After the morning run, John and his colleagues have breakfast together. Some mornings, instead of the morning run, they drive to the Eldoret racetrack for some running practice. After breakfast there might be a lesson or just free time or on some days a second training session before lunch. After lunch there is usually a nap, socializing, doing laundry etc. The afternoon can include a teaching session, mentoring or just hanging out together. Athletes also assigned some tasks like working in the kitchen, collecting milk, collecting firewood.
At 5:30 p.m. is the daily evening devotional and prayer and sharing of information about the day’s program for the next day. Then the athletes help serve dinner—usually ugali and cabbage, and maybe some meat. Athletes often linger over dinner, hang out together, and then go to bed early because of the early start in the morning.
Having had to end his own career prematurely due to health problems, Breitmaier has a passion for helping other high-performance athletes holistically. Participating in the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa in 2007 and the trip to Eldoret opened his eyes to the possibility of setting up a holistic training camp and locating it in Kenya.
Breitmaier takes up the story: “We opened in 2012. At that time there were no training camps that offered holistic support for athletes. We invited athletes to a training camp and from these athletes we selected a group of 15 people who were stationed at our training center. A fundamental concept is that we live as a family. We share life, live together 24/7.
“We have a three-tier approach to our athlete development program. Phase one could be like a classroom lesson. The second phase is to mentor them individually with sports mentors to see what their particular needs are. In phase three, the athletes implement something themselves.
“We currently have nine employees and over 40 athletes. Living together, eating together, praying together, worshiping together is a fundamental part of our support of athletes. We share life and take care of each other.”
The center has a Christian ethos. It has a partnership with the African Inland Churches. There is a church on site and athletes are encouraged to attend on Sundays. Once a month there is a Sunday afternoon worship service led by athletes that is open to guests. 200 people attended one recently.
Athletes who train at the center begin to achieve success at national and international levels. The most high-profile former Complete Sports old-boy is Emmanuel Korir, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic 800m champion.