The Enchanting Shadows of Tambach: A Glimpse into Kenya’s Athletic Heritage

In the small town of Tambach, located 241 kilometers from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, ten runners gracefully circled the running track. Their elongated shadows stretched across the ground, resembling giants, as filmmaker Keryan Sorton captured the mesmerizing scene from above. Sorton revealed that he recorded the video in the morning when the sun was rising, enhancing the realism of the athletes’ shadows. The video quickly went viral, circulating thousands of times across various social media platforms.

Tambach’s running track is a prominent training center for track and field athletes, especially for running. Situated in the Rift Valley region at an altitude of 2,400 meters above sea level with a cool climate, Tambach provides an ideal setting for physical endurance training. Athletes, both local and international, flock to Tambach for training and participation in athletic competitions. Adjacent to Iten, a neighboring town just 10 kilometers away, often referred to as the “Home of Champions,” Tambach has played a crucial role in producing world-class athletes, as reported by Africanews.

Despite lacking a gymnasium and medical facilities, Tambach’s running track is well maintained and serves as a standard training ground for the general public in Kenya. With a standard 400-meter track featuring eight lanes, the Tambach training center has a rich history of nurturing star athletes and sprinters from Kenya, including Kipchoge Keino, Wilson Kiprugut, David Rudisha, Eliud Kipchoge, Vivian Cheruiyot, and Mary Keitany. Today, Tambach continues to foster and provide opportunities for emerging young talents in Kenya, welcoming the public for running, training, and competitive events.

Kenya, renowned for producing some of the world’s greatest long-distance runners, shares its dominance in the sport with Ethiopia. The success of these nations in running is attributed to a combination of factors, including genetics, high-altitude training, and a culture that supports running as a lifestyle, as reported by The Star.

The enchanting giant shadows cast on Tambach’s track, akin to the video captured by Keryan Sorton, are a fascinating phenomenon that commonly occurs when the sun is low in the sky, either during sunrise or sunset. The size and shape of an object typically determine the size and shape of its shadow. The contrast between the shadow and the illuminated surface also affects its visibility. The distance between the object and the sun influences the shadow’s size, with closer objects casting larger shadows.

In the case of Tambach’s athletes, the giant shadows result from the low position of the sun in the morning sky. When the sun is low, its light must traverse more of the Earth’s atmosphere, causing it to scatter more and create larger shadows. This atmospheric effect is similar to how a flashlight’s beam widens when moved away from a wall. Additionally, weather conditions, such as cloudy skies, can influence the apparent size of the sun’s shadow, making it larger on overcast days compared to clear ones.

Beyond natural occurrences, giant shadows can also be created through sophisticated photography techniques, as demonstrated by George Steinmetz in 2005. The renowned photographer captured a group of camels in the Omani desert, with their shadows appearing larger than life. Steinmetz utilized a motorized paraglider to fly low and close to the camels without disturbing them. The distorted perspective, achieved through carefully chosen angles and composition, played a significant role in creating the illusion of larger shadows.

Another example of optical illusion in photography is Beverly Joubert’s “Zebra Shadow.” This South African documentary filmmaker captured a striking image of what seems to be a herd of horses wandering through a sandy desert. In reality, the photograph depicts zebras walking in shallow salt pans in Makgadikgadi, Botswana, with their shadows cast over the water’s surface, creating the illusion of additional animals. Joubert skillfully used this optical illusion to emphasize the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect these species from extinction.

In conclusion, the giant shadows dancing on Tambach’s running track are not only a natural spectacle but also a testament to the rich athletic heritage of Kenya. Whether created by the sun’s position or through the lens of a skilled photographer, these captivating shadows add an extra layer of magic to the already enchanting world of sports in Tambach.