Urban Swaras Join us
Amazing scenes were witnessed yesterday in Olepolos when the Swaras descended on the sleepy town of Kisamis in a convoy of vehicles. No doubt the locals must have known that there was something major in the offing with wave upon wave of vehicles arriving bearing their unsuspecting passengers…
Although the run was to kick off at 7.30am, most had arrived well before that time and were huddled in groups catching up as they waited for the off. A chilly morning it was and we could barely make out Ngong hills, obscured by thick mist, in whose shadow the run is set.
Quite some coincidence that I’m writing this supposedly ‘fulfilling’ marathon experience just after reading about the dangers and folly of marathons. You may call them naysayers; don’t, the article is absolutely true…I’m already thinking that once I get sufficiently scared, I’ll drop this marathon craze and redirect my energies to a grander substitute; Ultra marathons…:)
Moving on to the marathon at hand.
With the running bug having bitten quite deep, Victoria Falls marathon was a natural contender for marathons to conquer in 2016, its case strongly seconded by past mouthwatering tales of the run and the extras on offer.
(AN ACCOUNT OF THE 2016 STOCKHOLM MARATHON)
This one started as a typical schoolyard fight between Hector and I. You know the type, where boys will fight each other to defend important things, like the following:
Hector: Mine is bigger
Ndungu: Mine is longer
Hector: Really? But I bet mine is more popular with the ladies
Ndungu: Oh, yes! Says who?
The upshot of all this was a truce, the famous school yard peace treaty:
Hector: I’ll show you mine if you will show me yours
Ndungu: Deal! (Imagine an electronic ‘pinky swear’ here)
Well, yesterday I proved that I have lived long enough. First, I ignored all the tell-tale signs the universe was sending me- my running watch died last week, and I l forgot my music on the table in the house on the morning of the run. I am one of those people with an unhealthy attachment to my watch and my music while running.
Yesterday Chairman’s run lived up to its expectations of being one of the most difficult runs in the Swara Calendar. It used to be the most difficult but that top spot has been taken by the Illovoto Run.
Swaras came with the intent of conquering the Magadi…. some were humbled and others conquered…. Some came seeking to redeem themselves after Illovoto and redeem themselves they did. It is at this run last year that Naibei fell ill while attempting a 40 km. Yesterday, he was back and he completed the full 40 km. Way to go Naibei.
It has been billed by many as the ultimate single-day running challenge, bar none. Yours truly couldn’t agree more after a firsthand humbling experience of running the 89km Comrades Marathon last Sunday. You have got to reach far and wide to find a race that can provide such a spectacle of the invincible power of the human spirit.
In preparation for the race, I had put in the hard yards once I comfortably completed a 60KM up and down run of the infamous fluorspar run, four weeks out to race day. However, nothing can prepare you well enough for a 90km run and as D-day approached, there was some sense of apprehension of perhaps being too ambitious in entering this race in the backdrop of my maiden ultra-marathon (Two Oceans Marathon), barely 2 months earlier.
“Where is Otora, I wanna kill him.”
2. Nancy Gakii
“That I have overtaken Chairman is not a good sign. He must know something about this route that I don’t. “
At the 20km split:
“I am going home.”
3. Patron to Otora
“I intend to do 30km”
Otora: “Patron, it is a bit challenging. “
Patron downgraded to 20km and walked the last 6km.
It was a bit of a road trip from Nairobi to Salama, 100km plus of unwinding road towards Nunguni centre. And as we were heading there, you could tell at a glance that the place is hilly and at the same time has beautiful scenery.
We got to Nunguni and as usual the chairman explained the distances, noting that on this run there was no 10km. If you were new, it was baptismal by fire, the longest distance being 42Km. I had already decided I would do 20km together with my running buddy Marion; a distance that turned out to be almost 22km.
The Swara out of town runs are usually to look forward to; a Swara is invariably a running tourist. So the llovoto run was a go by this Swara both for the tourism reason, and serious running business as a chance to build up mileage in preparation for the next marathon.
As we zigged and zagged through the Mombasa road traffic, I was anticipating a run right up my alley, the circulated pre-run info had indicated the terrain as ‘undulating’, but who were they fooling, probably someone wanted to use a catchy word. No matter, Kambaland is well known to be flatland all the way from Syokimau as far as the eye can see, with only a few wannabe hills here and there.