Running Tales

An Account of Dan’s Run

Dans Gold Challenge Run in NairobiFriday morning was unusual in that it was a working day, but Swaras still came together to run. It was associated with a gentleman called Dan’s Kenyan leg of a worldwide journey of running that he has embarked on.

I can’t recall exactly (perhaps shamefully) but it was either his wife or his mum who passed away last year from Cancer, after which he decided to embark on a worldwide journey covering 240 countries, intending to run 10k’s in each country. Today was his 41st country that he was visiting and he intends to complete his mission by 2020 at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. His next destination is Malawi after which he will be flying to Tanzania i.e. tomorrow. Another 10k awaits him in Malawi today.

So, to the run…..

It was a bone dry, cool morning which has its advantages of course. Swaras who made it today were Avani, myself, Fran (ankle heavily taped up but determined to show up and try and run), Lucy, Tata Nduku, Abdi, Mercy, Jael, Nancy, I saw Benjamin Chikani there, and Carol. Quite a decent turnout I thought for a Friday morning.

The passionate runner that Nduku is and passionate about wanting to know stuff too, she had questions for Dan and his work. I found both her questions and his answers compelling. Nduku pulled out her camera, the one I presume that took all those lovely shots during the Karatina Run, and was preparing to use it once again. Something went awry though, so I think we used Abdi’s instead plus some others.

A couple of snaps later and we were off. As we were about to complete a lap of the arboretum to head towards the tarmac, Mercy was already there waiting for us having decided to use the other route to get there. It reminded me of a story that she once told us of how during one of the Sotokoto editions she was waiting outside the KWS to join the rest who had begun from inside the premises.

The run itself was extremely well marked, Dan made it a point to talk to everyone in the run as far as I could tell, and it was a lovely feeling to run early on a Friday morning. If the idea takes off, I think it would be fantastic to have runs on some weekday mornings as well.

All in all I felt very privileged to be in the company of such a person.

Back at the arboretum, Nduku was in the mood for more photos; she wanted to take one of us stretching, but I was on another planet metaphorically speaking as my stretch was the odd one out. The others were doing lunges I think, whilst I was doing something else. It was very nice to see Nduku smiling after an 11k run, considering the injury problems she’s had, and I also wish Fran the quickest recovery.

Running Tales

An account of the 2014 Standard Chartered Marathon

Urban Swaras Logo26th October was the date for the 12th edition of the Nairobi Standard Chartered Marathon. I would be picking up Jimmy before we made our way to Ajaa’s, who had kindly agreed to take Jimmy and me with him. My lateness in picking up Jimmy was compounded by him being slightly late in coming out. I was thinking of the possible repercussions of this as an excited Jimmy opened the car door, closed it shut and said a hello within a matter of seconds.

There was no time to waste on the road and I didn’t shy away from acute maneuvering between cars on Waiyaki Way. Jimmy was thinking something but I never found out what it was. As I approached Ajaa’s gate I found it fully open to my immediate surprise and no one in the immediate vicinity to suggest it had only just been opened. The car was still there though looking like it had been parked ready to leave, at least we were still in time, I sighed. By now I had a fairly good idea where Ajaa would have wanted me to park, so I drove off the circular path and onto a small part of the garden under a tree.

I was about to knock when I saw the door was already open, so I pushed through. All weird. Inevitably entering his sitting room, Ajaa was having a casual lie down, he casually greeted us and his eyes met the television screen once again. Make yourself at home for the next five minutes till we leave was the impression I got. A couple of minutes later we were on our way. Ajaa and his niece in front whom he predicts is capable of doing a half marathon in around 1.45 minutes but who needs to fight off discouragement to run where she lives, Jimmy, myself and another gentleman at the back. There was no space to move the thighs about which I normally do when I’m anxious.

Within a few minutes we were driving down Mbagathi Way when Ajaa spotted M.C perhaps warming up on Mbagathi Way or rushing to the start. Whatever the case, myself and Jimmy at least were amazed he was able to spot her. Getting there I made my way through the stadium and into the supermarket for a final loo call, I hoped. Next I waited at the starting point ready to begin. I had already seen Zippy, which was a lovely surprise; we miss her prose as well her company. Those doing the half marathon were on one side of the highway whilst those doing the full were on the other side, which was taking place simultaneously then. I spotted Susan M.C and Linus just as the gun had gone off, the start of 42k’s where the temperatures were only going to rise and the sun was out. The mindset of those doing a 42 at the start and those doing 21 is quite different.

They were off and half an hour later, so were the 21’s. It hadn’t felt like half an hour. We had been told to keep on the tarmac and stay off the pavement, but James either hadn’t heard or wasn’t conforming. No big deal I thought. Our first venture into the C.B.D and I heard a voice call out from behind. It was Farah! I suppose the Nairobi Marathon brings everyone out of the shells, even those non-runners who walk the entire distance; amazing in itself. I saw Kevin behind me and wondered if I had taken a shortcut somewhere, leading me to almost trip (not true, but I just wanted to include that).

It was solely on the overpass where i caught a glimpse of some of our full marathoners, Susan MC, Ashok, Eugenie and Nancy who I overheard resisted the urge to quit for whatever reason on several occasions and finished the marathon. Fast-forward to about 19k’s in and I saw Amai amongst others almost to the entrance of the Nyayo Stadium compound, smiling at me. He had good reason to smile I suppose, being about 200 m to the finish. Well done Amai on your performance. Less than five seconds later, I heard some personal encouragement and looked to the left and saw Fran there standing on the side. I think she had intended to do the run, but had gotten an injury during our run on Saturday. I don’t think anybody can question Fran’s appetite for supporting and encouraging those running. It was welcome encouragement and I managed to pick up the pace to the finish clocking in under 2hrs, which is always nice.

I later made my way to the Swara base complete with a rather nice looking banner, which you couldn’t miss going past. Amongst others who were already there and tucking in was Abdi, who I am so thankful to, for hosting us in such a fantastic way. It’s an ideal spot and great hospitality. Lucy was there too who had made it her goal to do a sub 2 at next year’s Stanchart. Go Lucy, a sports enthusiast and not just from the armchair. Whilst we were still getting up to stand by the road, Ndungu caught us off guard by already going past. We let a cheer but some mouths were still stuffed with food so it came out a bit muffled. He may not have heard too much, but then again he was probably in the zone.

Numbers of us made our way to the turning point and Lucy volunteered a couple of times and moved the metal barrier for a police pick up to pass. Never seen an ordinary citizen do that before. My earliest memory of those doing the full amongst the Swaras running up the slight incline to the turn was Loice Mbogo, accompanied by Ajaa who had run about 5k back down the track to accompany her to the finish. Others included Linus, a full marathon debutant who was looking very impressive even at that late stage, Eugenie, another Swara who did very well on her debut, Wahome, whom Fran had noticed had been running much faster earlier as compared to his normal consistent pace, Liz Kanini who has now done multiple full marathons, and the very experienced Raoul who dedicated this marathon to his 16 yr old nephew who passed away recently.

The Swaras were also doing a very good job of encouraging other full marathoners, not least Nduku, though one of them may have thought she was taking it too far, as she perhaps unknowingly stood right in middle of the turning space, and an already irritated looking runner asked her what she was doing.

I felt Susan and Ashok warranted a separate paragraph for their exploits, Susan because she has made great strides and did a sub 5 on her first full marathon, and also because she very recently lost her brother. Sorry Susan and well done. I think it was James Waliula who met her further down the route and accompanied to the stadium. Amongst those who met her on the final climb was Teejay her son who ran alongside her. Great moment to witness. Also there was Josh and David. As she made her way to the turn where the other Swaras were, the applause was quite something and very well deserved. She pushed even further to the finish to record an impressive sub 5 time. I think her determination means even greater things now.

It was great to see Surinder back on the marathon trail again and we wish him well. His full marathon awaits and I’m confident he’ll take it up. Others that I can remember finished inside two hours were Jael and Farah.

Lots of Swaras converged at the Swara Tent and it was a great ending to a great morning.

Well done to all and look forward to it next year.

Running Tales

My memories of the Naivasha Relay

( Video courtesy of Herman Hagström)

  • Otora disappearing like a fox into the bushes at the start of his first leg and getting to the end even before any of the cars.
  • Samuel Nyingi finishing 6 1/2 minutes before his next competitor who was in second place (astonishing considering its a relay).
  • Jael only finding out after the relay had well and truly begun that she was one of the captains.
  • Everyone was impressive including Steven Ndichu who in one of his legs clocked an average of 4:14 if i’m not mistaken, having begun conservatively then picked off runners as the K’s wore on.
  • Annabel achieving her best performance over 5k’s for the relay (and we know how fast she always is).
  • Our global superstar James Waliaula winning yet another leg and producing tears from a supporter of another team.
  • Nduku forming a new Swara chant which was infectious and vociferous; Swara, Swara, Swara……….
  • The determination and effort visible on Lucy’s face as she stormed to the finish line during one of the legs.
  • Nduku giving her all, including her singing. Someone swore that she actually 17.
  • James’ captaincy where he was running the final few meters with his team members.
  • Ashok’s normal smile and laughter being replaced by a hungry and determined look as he closed in on one of his legs.
  • Nduku shedding a tear or two when it was becoming apparent that her dear swaras were finally stamping thier authority in the 1st placed position.

Thanks for a great experience everyone.

Running Tales

The Oceans Pub Run

Urban Swaras LogoThe Swara Juggernaut rolled on last Saturday from the somewhat curiously named Oceans Pub in Karen. Though the name may have changed old habits diehard and I get the feeling it will always be known as that to us – Oceans Pub.

I was crossing my fingers for a dry run, notwithstanding the joys of running in wet weather, so was glad to see clear sky, indeed it was abit sweltering as the run wore on. On my way to Oceans Pub I drove past what looked like the tall and gangly frame of Ndungu Kahihu and imagined he wasn’t going to join us that Saturday. So imagine my surprise when I saw him there?!? Had he taken a short cut? Perhaps, I didn’t ask.

In attendance amongst others was Kimmie; who would be in contention for the queen of distances amongst the Swaras, Lilian; to whom I don’t think her achievement at Lewa had quite sunk in, a suave writer too it appears, Liz Kanini whom it appears almost in the blink of an eye became a member of the 42 Club; and Steve whose appearances are rare but popular nonetheless.

We seemed to have lost track of time when Susan called us to attention, after which followed an authoritative yet friendly intro to the run. Ajaa would have been beaming were he in attendance and listening (you can hold me to that). She once again stressed the importance of not mistaking the L for 7. A practical example of a misunderstanding that can go wrong was the weekend before at Mbo-i-Kamiti as discovered first hand by Daniel, it was hard to feel sorry for him without laughing.

I was eager to get going and set off immediately we were told we could start running and happened to find myself out in front feeling slightly awkward about it, as if running without any clothes on. James was running with us as was Albert, two of the very fastest runners in the group, so I eagerly awaited studying their leg strides so that I could be amazed. I didn’t have to wait too long for that. James amongst others are Swara Icon’s.

A little bit into the run I came across two boys; Hi! they began, Hi! I replied, Bye! they said next, Bye! That was new. I responded. In addition to the surroundings we experience on our runs, I also look forward to the interactions, as well as sharing the roads with other anonymous runners.

No Swara Run, even one run almost exclusively on tarmac passes without going through a shaded and wooded intersection, as was the case on this run, which also presented an opportunity to stretch the calves and hamstrings. Otora’s ingenuity cannot be understood but marveled upon nevertheless.

Overall it was a thoroughly pleasant run, not to mention the fluffy mandazis at the end, which complemented the tea at a scarcely believable sum of 30 bob. Incredible.

Have a great week all, happy trails and see you on Saturday.

Running Tales

The Valencia Gardens Run

valencia gardens imageLast Saturday’s Swara Run took place from Valencia Gardens (a newbie on the Swara Calendar) on a potentially wet and already very cold morning. It was a curtain raiser to the Vic Falls Marathon and the Lewa Marathon but to some, that might have meant nothing.

Driving in and to my right there wasn’t any space for an extra car, so I went left and got an empty space. In attendance were amongst others Noel; a kickboxing Swara (perhaps handy to run with), Fran; who was recently pictured with Cameroonian Legend Eto, Linda; a dynamic business woman and always nice to see her at the runs, Avani who will be going back to the scene of her full marathon triumph last year and Hector who has a fascinating story to tell of his athletic past based on his running into his later years.

The head turning and quieting whistle blew off Ajaa’s lips before he began the route description. He could have been describing the back of his hand the eloquence with which he was giving out the route description. Those not tapering off would have to do with a max of 20 k’s, much to Ajaa’s despair and maybe theirs. The whistle blew once more and this time we were off.

Hector and Tim were the front-runners as we approached the first markings written in the middle of intersection. I didn’t have to break stride fortunately as Hector was already aware having checked what went where, and I simply followed vaguely in his and Tim’s direction. I could see people running in familiar looking clothing, that’s how I identified them at the time. The first climb, the one that leads to the Gitanga Road junction is deceptively tricky and can be quite humbling , Leif agrees. It took my breath away, quite literally.

We were soon running through a gated section with houses on either side. An intentional look towards the houses showed that most still had their curtains drawn up, on a cold Saturday morning, just past 7:00am. What are they still doing in bed? I thought to myself. They may not have heard Ajaa’s whistle. Another part of the run took us to the outskirts of Kibera and my chance to hop, skip, and jump (not literally of course) in between the verticals on the tracks.

Very soon we were at what struck me as the field off Ngong Road where the cross country takes place. What appeared to be a running track when dry was at that time almost unrecognizable. I also spotted what looked like a frustrated training coach still waiting for his student runners. He seemed to be giving up for the morning and was heading off as we ran off. Such was the wetness of the morning, in trying to avoid a muddy patch I landed my foot on fully soaked grass. It was one of those days.

Back on to Ngong Road and we were told to take left onto another muddy section. Though I was tempted to follow the familiar and avoid any further soaking, I fought my instinct and went as instructed by the chalk. A traipse through some more wetland and Hector and I arrived back at base a few hundred metres short of the distance. People doing the max distance were still on their way back.

A breakfast later in a very nice and warm room, and people left at leisure.

Have a good week all and see happy trails.

Running Tales

An account of the Magadi a.k.a Chairman’s Run 2014

Urban Swaras LogoAs is required for the Chairman’s Run, we were on the road in the wee hours of the morning already having branched off Langata Road before 6. There was drizzle in the air but I thought that was the last we would see of it, imagining a hot and sunny Magadi Road awaited. As sometimes happens we were the first to get there, however I was in no doubt that cars would be streaming in very shortly. Annabel would have made it sooner had she not been driving her Subaru up and down that murram road until she found the place, presumably by seeing other cars at the gate from a distance.

Appearing that day amongst others was Ferrah; one of the next Swaras who’ll be doing the 56k in Cape Town next year, Waliula; whose running exploits are well known and someone who I feel a tingle every time I meet, Linus who I met later on and whose mileage I’ve heard has taken a sharp turn upwards- Watch him go I say; Ndungu whose both running and storytelling packs a punch and Wahome; both an excellent host and an admired runner with wise counsel.

Peter realized in an instant that he had left his keys in his cars ignition and the doors locked. His saving grace though was that his shoes were at hand, and wouldn’t even have to entertain the thought of doing the run in the slippers he was wearing. I quick call to Lina, perhaps waking her up and help was on its way with the spare key… mini crisis over for Peter.

A short deliberation and head scratching later, we managed to get people into cars with Ajaa having paired us together. In reality he could have had a piece of cake whilst doing so as it came out flawless. Still cool and overcast as we drove toward the start I continued hoping it would remain that way, but resigned at that point. It was going to be a challenge regardless. Minutes from the start point, there was the now familiar figure of Katwa coming from the opposite direction. His determination to run and unorthodox means cannot be imitated I don’t think. Don’t recall seeing him again that day.

So we got to the first drop off point which was a very approximate 35k distance, and the numbers lining up were breathtaking. Amongst others in that group was Raoul, Leif, Ferrah, Samuel and Ndungu. It did little for me apart from amaze me, so I wasn’t going to start from there. I had initially thought of doing a 20k distance but adjusted to 25k which was our next stop. I forgot to mention it was drizzling at the start, something I never expected. Ajaa might have been in communication with the weather gods and asked them to go easy on us.

Doing the 25k’s from what I can remember was Lilian whose slow and steady approach takes a lot of grit and determination, Buddies Alix and Eugenie, and Ashok; yet another inspiration in terms of the age he has taken up running and the progress he continues to make. A short while into my run, I heard voices from behind and then felt footsteps getting closer. I would soon discover they were Annabel’s. I didn’t know at what point she started, but she began pulling away steadily as I had expected. About 10 minutes later, there was a climbs distance between us and then some.

I wondered to myself, “Does she realize this is Magadi?,” and then left it at that steadily moving on myself. One climb later, I remembered Loise gasping at the climb just before we get to Kisame’s and thought that was it. But Kisame’s was nowhere to be seen as I reached a plateau, so I prepared myself for more to come with a bit of dread. Amongst others on Patrol was Chairman whom I was surprised to see not running but sacrificing himself, and on another hotter day I would have gleefully gobbled up his fruit offering. A bit later approached Linus and Mugambi, with Linus telling me he’d already done his distance. His maturity as a runner may be growing.

It’s past Olepolos I think that a snaking but relatively flat terrain comes, before the final climb, which sometimes feels like two or three put together. All in all a definite test of endurance is the Magadi Run. I decided to power walk that, and was glad I did so, as a kilometer later, I was able to break into a running stride again to the finish.

Mentions go to Alix who said she was determined not to walk her 25k’s and managed it and Lina who took up the responsibility of collecting and recording payments.

The usual hospitality followed back at the Home, after which we left at leisure.

As we were leaving, the 35kears were beginning to arrive, Raoul first I think, Ndungu was almost there despite his pull or something as I recall reading about, and Amai, who’d stopped meters short of the gate and seemed to be having a jolly conversation with the occupants of the car. Well done to all.

Have a great week all, and see you on Saturday.

Running Tales

Maasai Lodge Run 2014

Maasai Lodge Pool









Last Saturday’s Swara Run took place from Maasai Lodge, famous for me for the rocky dip before the stretch back home and it didn’t disappoint this time either. It was hosted from afar by James Waliaula who by the time the run began may have been in the 40th Kilometre of a run somewhere.

Driving to the lodge with the sun in my eyes and on a murram road, I decided to exercise caution and slow down lest I puncture a tire. I was driving along when this saloon car approached from behind in haste, and as the driver passed me, he seemed a bit annoyed that I was slowing him down. I realized later that this was a Swara, a new face. I have never before seen someone so anxious to get to a run.

In attendance amongst others was Peter; already of course a full marathoner with a possible eye on the Two Oceans Full now, Tito; who may also be preparing for something as big, judging by the increase in his distances, Sean; having done 80 k’s of course last Saturday only but back for the following weekends run; and Loice; we’ll what can I say that hasn’t already been said…..a great example of an endurance runner perhaps.

Anyway, as we were mingling around at the start, Ajaa came running towards us, looking concerned and began his short and sharp introduction. I caught the time on my watch as I went to turn on my GPS, a minute after seven already, no wonder there seemed to be panic. To my pleasant surprise, my GPS came on almost immediately. Perhaps it’s getting the drift now. The whistle blew and we were off.

I started off near the front, but was very soon passed by Jude who tries to practice striding without his heels touching the ground. As I watched him disappear into the horizon, I was a little out of breath already. It can be exhausting watching such speed on legs. I was soon running with the excellent trio of Raoul, Annabel and Sean as we made our way through what was fairly flat terrain, rare where Swara Runs are concerned. I felt good for the maximum distance but had in the back of my mind the adventurous dinner I had consumed the night before. Advice perhaps if needed, keep it simple the night before a run.

And my fears were slowly being realized as we ran on, forcing me to part ways with Raoul at the 20k and “L” split. I began to walk after abit so as to ensure that I kept it in till the Lodge, the bouncing up and down was doing me no favours. I walked past a group of kids, one of whom shouted “Run like the others!,” and another added “Wacha tu, huyu ame choka.” I smiled at his logical thinking as I walked on. There was still the rocky dip to cross which I was looking forward to, as it’s so unique. A little walking around searching later, Mugambi and his friend whose name I forget, assisted me to the clearly visible marks. I must have wandered off. With the Lodge not far off, temptation got the better of me and I managed to comfortably jog the rest of the way. Perhaps things had settled.

Back at the Lodge at the Swara Makuti, runners were already indulging in the lovely breakfast with David and Joshua humoring Susan saying things like we should get certificates of participation at Swara AGM’S, and that it would be a nice thing to put on one’s C.V. being a member of the Urban Swaras. I too, was amused. The banter continued after that.

I left shortly after 10.30, whilst some stayed behind to carry on indulging with the Swimming Pool looking inviting.

Have a great week everyone and happy running.

Running Tales

An Account of the Iten Trip

Iten-001Date: May 17-18th, 2014

One of the Swara roads this weekend led to the running heaven of sorts i.e. Iten. Everyone attending left Nairobi the Friday before. In my car we’re Jimmy; who we later found is quite a beast on the running track, Avani whose passion for running extends to reading running books and sharing what’s found in them, Lillian who is now ready for the Lewa Full I think, having successfully done 35k’s in Iten, and Annabel; who only started running in her 40’s and has a personal best of 1hr 27 mins in a half marathon and whose daughter who also happens to be a sprinter, will be representing Kenya in Australia.

Our first stop on the way to Iten was at the Westside Mall in Nakuru, which is fast becoming the halfway stop for the Swara’s. A filling lunch later which included chips and which would be brought up as part of conversation later, we continued on our way to Iten. A beautiful drive later we were in Eldoret, less than an hour away from the much anticipated Iten. As we made our way to Iten from Eldoret we came across a series of bumps which resulted in scraping. Lilian joked that the chips eaten earlier were contributing to that. Cue laughter.

Before we got to the Centre, we drove on to the landmark sign overlooking the road which said something like ‘Welcome to Iten, the Home of Champions’ and did a few poses including the Mo Farrah trademark. Satisfied that we’d been photographed enough we drove to the Center. Already there was a very relaxed looking Surinder for whom it was his second day there already and he had already done two 15k runs.

We saw Ajaa’s car there and figured therefore that he too was there, with Surinder mentioning that he was currently doing a 15k run, with Surinder having dropped him off at the starting point, such is the unity and will to help out each other. It also displayed once again the spontaneity that our Chairman has for running. Others were yet to arrive including Richard, Sean, Kimmie, Ashok and his friend Rajiv a visitor from India, who would all fly closer to Iten.

The rest of the afternoon/evening would be spent settling in and having conversations over the unique bread they seem to have at the Center with cups of tea. More people had arrived by the time we were having dinner including Jael; a recent full marathon finisher at sub 4 and a great writer too it appears evident. It didn’t escape us that it was indeed pouring and that it might make the following days run more difficult, but thankfully it turned out to be a dry run.

A sumptuous dinner as always was had, after which we received a pre-run briefing, and after which we were free to retire to bed. Though Lornah and Peter were not there that evening, we did have the Welsh National Champion at 800m in the same room and also a half marathon specialist from Netherlands, who will be running for them in the European Championships.

As is custom, we began the morning of the run with a choice of beverages, fruits and bread. By the time the first people were fuelling themselves, Sean was already leaving for his 80k run, which I’m told included the Fluorspar route that we had done in one of our earlier runs. He definitely brings something unique to our group. Wine Connoisseur Wahome would be doing the 35k as would be Lillian. Consolata who was also running and has been training, will be doing this year’s Chicago Full. She looks in great shape.

Elites belonging to the Camp accompanied us throughout our run, perhaps resisting the urge to convert to their normal strides. I was spared chants of “Fat Runner!,” which had been directed towards us by the both bemused and amused Children during previous visits. As it happened, Richard and Annabel were leading the pack of Swaras and we’re slowly pulling away, and who I was told did their chosen distance of 20 k’s in 1hr 42 mins. Quite a feat, considering the challenges of running in Iten.

My running elite buddy was a bloke named Bernard who kept me entertained to the extent that 15 flew by before I realized it. I ran with Ajaa for a while before he stopped after an intended 25k, having done 15k late the previous day, and having been on an unplanned visit it turned out. He also mentioned that he had arrived minus running Shorts and was wearing Surinders!, tightly tied around his waist to avoid having to pull them up from his knees perhaps.

Swaras were being carried into a van as they finished their distance, as most would not be finishing at the Center. By midday when almost everybody was back at the Center, Sean was probably battling the midday sun during his 80k run. We were at leisure till Lunch, during which I opted for a swim as compared to stretching on the ground, where I could barely lift a leg. We would be having a Pilate’s stretch session at 4 pm, something I was in two minds about. 4 p.m approached and most Swaras made their way to where it would take place.

Richard and I were comfortably sat in the Lounge Area, with Richard offering me great insight into how Cyclists think and do stuff during races. We happened to be watching the Giro D’Italia. He referred to where we were to someone who came in, as the Slackers Corner. Cue Smiles on our faces. We were keen listeners however to how the Pilates session went though, with Annabel having mentioned that they were made to do a half squat type for six minutes. I probably would have either suffered two dead legs at the end of that, or fallen backwards. Sean came to the dining area shortly after 6pm, to a warm applause.

Our dinner was to be at a club located a few meter’s outside the Center, complete with barbequed meat. Arsenal F.C., who happen to be the team that Jimmy so feverishly supports, we’re playing. He watched the second half of the match at the Club together with a few of us including Consolata, who asked me why I was holding my breath while watching the game, I replied I wasn’t. Nduku too got quite passionate, fuming over “wasted chances” by Arsenal, as she called them. Arsenal ended up winning the game with Jimmy buying drinks freely, a bill he would settle the morning after.

The next morning was our recovery session, which included a 2.8k run/jog to the Athletes track, followed by some warm up stretches and then a session on the track. This included 3 repeats of a 400m sprint and a 200 m walk. Richard happened to come first in them all, but Ashok including others, were quite competitive, as was Mercy who had started early that morning to do a 15k run before making her way to the track. Jimmy came a little later and did some sprinting himself which it was widely acknowledged was pretty fast. A very brief warm down followed after which we made our way back to the Center.

Just before we left I walked into the dining room to find our unofficial Chairman and Chairman in waiting perhaps, Wahome, giving a deserved vote of thanks to Mukche, Songok and their entire team. We truly seem to have made ourselves great friends at the Center and I hope we continue our annual visits.

We chose the Eldama Ravine Route as a means towards getting back to Nakuru, and it did not disappoint with marvelous views on either side, and an almost clear and smooth winding road. As we drove down, we met two cyclists on their way up. We guessed they were doing the entire climb, which would be impressive any way. During this stop at the Westside Mall in Nakuru, we decided to eat at the Food Court which I recommend.

The final part of our journey was toward Nairobi, which went well.

Have a great week everyone and see you at Maasai Lodge.

Running Tales

Last Saturdays Run from Kibiko

photo by

Date: April 5, 2014

Last Saturday the Swara’s ran from the A.P. Camp in Kibiko, Ngong. With me was Trail Fox Otora; who makes our running so much easier through his dedication, Patrick; a participant in mind boggling challenges back in Europe, and Farah; who in February completed a Nine Day Boot Camp in the coastal weather of Watamu. Upon reaching there I saw only a handful of cars yet, but knowing from experience how Swaras tend to arrive, I expected a convoy soon.

And soon enough that’s exactly what happened. Also at the run amongst others was Tito; whose played Club Rugby in the past I believe if not currently too, Mitch and Kimmie; soon to do the full distance at the Two Oceans Ultra, Linda; who always seems to join us when we run in Ngong Hills; Amai; the hockey coach and a strong runner, Susan; whose aiming for a sub 2 in this year’s Lewa whilst moving up in terms of distances she’s running.

As the briefing running continued, I could still hear Ajaa’s voice as I put the finishing touches for my run behind a stone wall. Briefing over, Ajaa made the now familiar go motion with his arm in tandem with the blowing of the whistle. A small group had formed at the front consisting of Timothy, Richard and Mitch at least. I found myself running alongside Patrick as the clouds broke swiftly, and he wondered aloud as to why he couldn’t hear me breathing. I assured him, though I’m sure he didn’t believe that I wasn’t dead, that I was simply trying to control my breathing.

Further up we went toward the windmills and the weather suddenly changed to fog and mist all around us. I guessed such weather changes are unique to the Kibiko run. Patrick and Samuel, the latter who may have arrived a bit later, went ahead steadily toward the windmills, after which a few seconds later I heard the familiar blast of the whistle. I wanted to respond by asking Ajaa something as an excuse for a breather, but nothing came so I plodded on.

The descent began soon after, and breaking the quiet were booming loud footsteps it felt. Looking back, I saw running buddies Amai and Mutua striding steadily on a narrow path and not wanting them to break their stride, I gave way. Soon after, I was running alongside Timothy, who looks well on his way to doing a full marathon. We thought we were following the route for the 20k’s but it turned out we weren’t as we had only covered 13 k’s by the time we reached the gate to the Camp. The actual distance for 20 was 26. You certainly tend to get added value for your distances with the Swaras.

Tim and I decided to cover the rest of the distance by running toward the Valley, bringing back memories of my earliest runs in Ngong with the Swaras. This included the climb on the way back where so many Swaras have tested themselves. My enthusiasm probably at the start of the improvised route meant we did 21 plus. Apart from the bananas and water, on offer were homemade cakes by Monica and brought by Leif, met by widespread approval, and an offering from Pam too.

Before leaving I recall amongst others, Raoul coming in, who got on a Boda Boda after completing his intended distance of 30ks’, Susan who I’m guessing did the intended 20k route judging by her finger wagging as she finished; additional mileage completed, showing how far she’s come, and Ajaa, who’s always smiling at the end of a run regardless.

Our carload left soon after.