The Mulley’s Half Marathon 2016 took place on Sunday 9th October from the People’s Park in Machakos. It would be my first visit to Machakos People’s Park, that being one of the reasons for my excitement. Arriving there at 6.30 a.m approximately, Swara Henry seemed to be the first arrival, he who often posts images from Swara Runs on his Facebook page accompanied by nice words. He was accompanied by a pal of his from Safaricom.
They were united by their love for running; but, other than that, they came for all sorts of reasons. Some for the scenery, some to conquer the mountain, others to commune with mountainous pachyderms. But what almost all of them ended up doing on Saturday 24th September was to conquer themselves, yet again. Some did this by setting new distance and endurance records, some set new records in sheer obstinate grit and never say die attitude. In this, our biggest, and longest Ultra Marathon to date did not disappoint. It is impossible to capture all the stories of triumph and near disaster, in any case most of them have been much better told. But here is my small sample:
This run can only be recounted with a lot of pride, notwithstanding the reality that your body is a pile of ruins. We’ll try to make this as summarized as possible…what to write is just too much, after all it was an ultra.
Date: Saturday 24th September 2016
Place: Somewhere at the foot of Mt. Kenya
The turnout is impressive, droves of Swaras arriving early to make sure they don’t miss out on the penance they are here to pay for their various transgressions. The heavens tease runners with mild showers and dark menacing clouds; for a moment it seems Ndungu’s rain stopper is sleeping on the job. The dampness of the weather nevertheless not dampening the runners’ singularity of purpose.
Three pairs of worn out running shoes, grumbling running partners (that woman is too stubborn!), blisters and limping into the spa barefoot because my feet are sore and I am too worn out to be bothered for a massage and mani-pedi after every major run. It’s amazing how much mileage you burn when you put your head to it and the year is not over. I have been running a minimum of 50kms a week since January to date, regardless of where I am in the world. Below are some of the highlights:
MT KENYA ULTRA RUN
After a week of recovery during which I did not know what to say about the Fluorspar run, I finally have the courage to recount what was an odyssey against gravity.
Seems like there’s a lynch mob baying for the blood of the 2016 Fluorspar Swaras as a result of their post run hush-hush… slow down, here is one account…
The fluorspar run is ideally a 3 day odyssey. For lack of a better explanation, look at it like a sandwich…the run practically being the stuff between your to and fro road trips.
Image courtesy of Davis Munene
It seems like everyone has gone quiet about the Fluorspar run. I wonder why? My experience is that it was a really eventful run, on and off the trail and one not to be missed. This was my first one.
In the first place I really needed this run to build training for my marathon in October. I broke all rules to be there, but I wouldn’t want to disclose those particular details!
Image Courtesy of Davis Munene
Five days later, I finally have the courage to narrate my tormented story, from the bottom of Kerio Valley, amidst the fluorspar mines. It’s an annual event in Urban Swaras running calendar, billed as a relatively hard run and a must experience for every Urban Swara. We departed Nairobi and travelled to Sego Lodge on Friday, in dramatic fashion. A morning meeting in my office took longer than I’d expected, and I was the designated driver. Rather than leave before 11am, I was still shuffling papers at my desk at 2pm. Thereafter, a traveling companion wasn’t at his pick up point as agreed, and despite waiting on the roadside for a further 10 minutes, I had to leave without him. He’d later hail a ‘boda boda’, catching up minutes later, as I was picking others at Gitaru. The Gitaru group had been waiting by the road since 11am.