ITEN, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenya's running team is expected to clean up in the middle and long distance races in London. Many of the country's top athletes come from one particular region, the Rift Valley.
Here is something extraordinary about Kenya and the Olympic Games. Athletes from just the Rift Valley have won more medals in the last fifty years than any other country in the middle and long distances. That's almost impossible to get your head around. Let's find out just how they do it.
First on the list: altitude. We're heading to 8,000 feet and those sorts of heights help peak running performance. But mountains are everywhere, so what makes Iten "the home of champions?"
Well, first: the runners. Iten is home to about a thousand athletes. Hundreds meet six days a week on this rural road. "Just run until you throw-up" he says.
No coaches necessary. They thrive on teamwork and competition. But with so many, is running in the blood here? At this high school it seems to be. Running coach Brother Colm O'Connell says, "Now this particular photograph here this was the Kenyan team taken with the president at state house Nairobi."
Brother Colm has coached champions at St. Patricks for decades. He says, "From one school we had ten representatives in the Seoul Olympics."
He says genetic theories of dominance are rubbish. He adds, "Nobody has yet to come up with any conclusive evidence to say that there is what you might call a natural advantage here. I think a lot has got to do with early identification of talent and the lifestyle of the people when they are young."
So they put the photos in the dining hall to motivate future champions, which brings us to another point.
Now the Kenyan diet in this part of the Rift Valley is very rich in carbohydrates and very low in fat, and really they feel that the secret weapon is this. It is Ugali. It is very simple: maize and water. And it is the staple here. Runners love it. They often eat it in the evening. And running legend has it that it's so popular and so effective that one coach in Europe shipped this all the way to his runners to improve their times.
More often than not, the runners now come in the other direction. Lornah Kiplagat, a world class athlete who now runs for the Netherlands say conditions here are perfect. He says, "You can't find any other place in the world like this. It's the terrain, it's everything, you need to be here to feel it by yourself. The atmosphere it motivates you."
Elite athletes including the entire English Middle Distance Team, come to Kiplagats High Performance Center. Many improve their times, but they come here for a couple of weeks.
Brother Colm says you need a lifetime. He says, "The kids see the great champions training around here and of course they are highly motivated because these champions become great role models for our young kids growing up."
He says that the mind is as important as physical talent. He picked out Moses Mukono for his will to succeed. O'Connell says, "I came to realize even if a person doesn't have the knowledge but you can run well and you can be a success in your life."
For Mukono, like many other Kenyan athletes, running can really mean a ticket to an education, recognition, and the potential for a better life. So what then, ultimately, makes Kenyans the best? Perhaps it's just the magic of these mountains.