From December onwards the Yaya Village Hotel was a training mecca for elites like Taoufik Maklhoufi, the Dibaba sisters, Ayale Suleiman, Julia Bleasdale, Balla Abdulrahman and Tariku Bekele. It was magical, inspiring and flat out intimidating to walk into the gym and be surrounded by such a grossly talented and hardworking group of athletes.
The trails around Yaya were hoping with locals and foreigners looking to put in his/her miles for the day.
Kenenisa’s Olympic caliber track right next door pulsed with energy as teams would go for speed workouts.
Ayanleh Souleiman running on Kenenisa’s Bekele track
It was normal to walk in to the gym to see Makhoulfi working his core while throwing a 10kg medicine ball as if it was nothing. He would go on for 25 plus minutes and it seemed like the guy catching the ball was the one exerting more energy. Makhloufi would rocket it his way time after time as the coach or teammate catching the ball would recoil a bit before flinging it right back.
As the Diamond League commenced all of us at the hotel eagerly kept posted and watched those who had put in the work during their “off-seasons” to start competing. Off-seasons with casual 150+ mile weeks for some… while for others it was grueling 10 X 400 speed workouts, burning at ridiculous speeds.
Doha was first up and with a number of the Athletes who trained at Yaya coming from the Qatari National Team it was a key first test. Balla Musaeb Abdulrahman, a class act and one of the nicest guys one will ever meet, ran a PB 1:44.83 finishing 5th in the 800M final.
Balla trained at Yaya for more than two months and his start to his season is encouraging to those of us who watch him put in the work here at Yaya.
Toufik finished the June 1st Bowerman Mile at the Prefontaine Classic race in Eugene, Oregon in 3:52.94. He has his eyes set on the 1,500 and 800 at the Moscow World Championships and our guess is that the Bowerman Mile was just a light dusting off of the good-ol’ spikes. We hope more London-like success is on its way for Toufik.
Julia Bleasdale stayed at Yaya for just over 100 days between October-March finished third in the 10k Great Ireland Run with a time of 33:53. She has been running well, and too, has her eyes set on Moscow. Check out Julia’s own blogs from her stay at Yaya to read more about her experience.
Finally, Ayanleh Souleiman just won the 2013 ExxonMobile Bislett Games Dream Mile in 3:50.53. He spent several months training at Yaya, blasting by everyone at lightning speeds.
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