Author Archives: Joy Owango

Nomadic Urban Swara: This is to 2,000 Kms of Running…And the Year is Not Over!

2000-kmsThree 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:


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The Nomadic Urban Swara-KENYA- Elephant Hill Hike/Run

at elephant hillSo here  I am bright eyed and bushy tailed as the Bush Babies  are screeching manically in front of my log cabin somewhere in Happy Valley, right in the middle of the Rift Valley.  I have this amazing view of the  valley, it’s a warm night, the stars are sparkling in their full glory and the moon is shyly creeping out of the clouds into the sky.

Since  I am awake  the only thing that can go through  my mind is  my bull headed , borderline fool hardy hike and eventual run at Elephant Hill in the Aberdare Ranges last week.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-KENYA- Mt Kenya Ultra Marathon


Mt Kenya ultra marathon 2015As always, it was a hair brained, not thoroughly thought through idea. I was going to run the Mt Kenya ultra marathon. My objective was simple; I wanted  to kill two birds with one stone, join club 42 and if I survive it, join the exclusive ultra marathon club and  pull in bragging rights like Loise, Mitch and Raoul and  thump my chest with pride and say I am an Ultra marathoner, and just annoy my friends  every time I say it. Guess what! I did it! And I am such an annoying muppet!

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-KENYA- To a Decade of Running

Joy runningCommitment to running is marking a running trail in the rain (Otora I salute you. Marking trails is not easy).

Commitment to running is still  going for a run, regardless of the weather ( To the Swaras, who I have given flimsy excuses about not coming to your runs as it’s raining… well let’s just say, I will kick off the warm blanket with enthusiastic ferocity as I come for your run)

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-KENYA- The Naivasha relay

swaras at Naivasha Relay 2015 -1“Joy, you are Captain!” An undignified, “ Eh”! was my response, followed by a plaintive, “why!!” “Gender diversity!” responded the Chairman with a straight face  and all I could say was, “really… Ajaa, you will pull gender diversity on me?” Well, by then he was gone and, that , Swaras ,was my baptism by fire into the Naivasha Relay.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-KENYA- Mt Kenya Run

With Hashers At Mt Kenya Run 2015“I run because it keeps me balanced as there is a thin line between spiritualism and sanity, which running places in check, plus I plan my day, all my To do lists and work diary and above all it’s a confidence booster.” “I get the same feeling when I wear a good pair of high heels and carry my favorite handbag and I just know I will nail that board meeting.”

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-LONDON

London 1There is a Swahili saying that goes Kingereza ilukuja na meli (English came by ship). The saying forgives us hapless Africans, when we speak or write poor English. I grew up watching TV shows like  Mind your Language that emphasized on the importance of speaking proper English. Prior to  the Children’s Act and the term spare the rod spoil the child  was used with relish, my elementary teacher put the fear of God in me, every time I failed my English test by reminding me with every whack on my hand, “Joy, English IS the QUEENS’ language!” and  in tears I grudgingly acquiesced  and wanted to know who this Queen was who made my life very miserable. Then later in my career working closely with academics and researchers, it was further reinforced that English IS the language of Science.  So armed with this knowledge and ready to do my English teacher proud,  I landed  in Heathrow and discovered ….Cockney ! Don’t get me wrong I have been to London a number of times but in the soft bubble of my academic peers,  and I never quite had the privilege of being spoken to in Cockney.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-KENYA – The (in)famous Ngongathon

NGONGLadies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We are approaching Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, it is a beautiful morning with clear skies and temperatures of about 28 degrees and if you look through your windows, you will see the beautiful undulating, Ngong Hills, which , means ‘knuckles’ in Maasai.

This is the soothing Disneyfied sound of every Kenya Airways captain as you land in Nairobi.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-ZANZIBAR

ZNZ 1The East African coast, and I say this with confidence from Mogadishu (oh yeah, I was told I looked very ‘womanly or really feminine and grown up …., when I was wearing a niqab’, it is one of those statements you hear from men and you wonder, where on earth did you get that from… anyway A for effort!) to Maputo has in common…. Beach boys! For reference, I was given stony silence on attempting to run on the Mogadishu coast so I took a walk ( hence my experience with the said boys.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-SOUTH AFRICA- JP Morgan Challenge

Joy at JP Morgan Challenge2015South  Africans  have  this colloquial  high-life term  called  Phuza Thursday, loosely translated  from Zulu meaning Alcohol, but in a sentence it denotes to Drinking Copiously and  Thursday is pretty much reserved for this.  So, after 4 days  of board meetings, I was deaf in one  ear and a bit cross eyed from the presentations  and  when Thursday came, the office was abuzz because it was  Phuza Thursday.

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