Tokyo Olympics: NZ marathon runner Daniel Jones wants to extend Kenya stay

When Kiwi marathon runner Daniel Jones left for a training camp in Kenya, he expected to be there for five weeks. 

But when the global coronavirus pandemic hit, he was faced with a difficult decision to stay or return to New Zealand. 

The 29-year-old opted to stay and make the remote village of Iten his home for almost three months, and now he's planning to keep it that way for the foreseeable future

"I definitely miss New Zealand," Jones told Newshub. "I miss my partner in NZ, but in the long term, I think it's going to be very beneficial for my running and if this helps me put on the New Zealand singlet, then it's all worth it"

Initially from Wellington, Jones has sacrificed his job, his family and his lifestyle to pursue his Olympic dream.

And while the pace of life is slow, training in Iten is fast - with the best in the world at hand.

"Sometimes it feels like you're competing over here. Trying to keep up with some of the faster runners, it can be super tough - but it inspires me a lot actually."

The advantages are countless - high altitude, endless rolling terrain and cheap nutritious food like traditional Kenyan dish 'ugali', a type of maize flour porridge made in Africa. 

"I've been told it's the food that makes marathon runners so fast over here," he says.

The traditional dish has worked for Jones. In two years, he has knocked four minutes off his marathon time, which stands at 2h 16m 15s.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Zane Robertson is living proof the Kenyan experience works and he believes Jones has the goods to push for one of three New Zealand Olympic spots.

"Dan is genetically gifted," Robertson says. "He's very humble, but he also has belief in himself.

"He's got the guts, he's got the right type of attitude to make it."

And with the Tokyo Games postponed until 2021, he has time up his sleeve.

"It's beneficial, because it gives me more time to train and hit that standard," Jones says.

"I hadn't hit that standard yet, so now that opportunity is extended."

And while he may be thousands of miles from home his outlook is very bright.