The Journey to Berlin started in 2016 as a journey to London. I balloted for the 2017 London Marathon, held my breath, was rejected, exhaled, and balloted for Berlin in the next breath. On 30th Nov 2016 I got the all-important email. I was in!
The Months Before
Berlin Marathon is a special race. Touted as the fastest World Record (WR) eligible course, it is the World Record (WR) and Personal Best (PB) destination of choice for elite runners and regular folks as well. I too was keen to make Berlin worth its while, sub 3 was my goal, a project my mind neatly christened ‘breaking the sound barrier’.
The run took place on 29th July. Third time for me. First was back in 2015 as a newbie swara still cutting teeth in matters running. Fluorspar humbled me then. I went back in 2016, wiser this time and managed to conquer the tarmac to tarmac.
My plan for 2017 was to re-conquer tarmac to tarmac faster than in 2016; for comfort that I was improving as a runner and as a training run for a marathon I have in September. Then injury happened.
This run took place on 30th April 2017, three weeks back, but it is one timeless run so I’ll still give a bit of my experience.
Voi is the farthest swara run out of Nairobi, it is also one of the two 3 day odysseys; Day one you arrive, day two you run the main course, day three you leave. The other one such run is Fluorspar. Heading to Voi is a breeze, you can drive, carpool or take a bus. You’ll travel through the wildlife corridors where you’ll generally be able to spot an Elephant and other wildlife.
Date: 18th of March 2017
Venue: Castle Mountain lodge, Mt. Kenya
Nairobi to Kutus 120 kms, Kutus to Rukenya 4 kms. At Rukenya, you’ll get onto a comely traffic shy road for a steady upward 16kms drive from an altitude of around 1300 metres to the Castle Station gate and a further 4 kms of forest dirt road to the Castle Mountain Lodge sitting at 2057 m asl.
Graceland girls’ school opened doors to its pioneer class in 2007 and had its first candidate class in 2010, it is a one stream close knit school in which out of 30 students per class, an average of 5 are fully sponsored. A total of 50 students have so far been beneficiaries of the annual run proceeds… The school is neatly tucked away by a river in Chaka, Nyeri County, at the foot of the ever watchful Mt. Kenya.
Graceland is also the upcountry digs of one Wachira Nderitu’s family, a Swara himself, and founder of the school.
Highlights of the year; that’s what I see all over on TV, Papers and other forms of media, social and antisocial. It being the seasonal fad, who am I to be left behind? So idling away the dying hours of 2016, I reckon it’s not the worst idea to idle away mulling over a little running. So if you find this long, unhurried and random it is because it is long, unhurried and random.
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.
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…
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.