Running Tales

From Old House to Old Moses; A Tale of a Trail Unyielding!

Happy smiles at the start… the lull before the storm.

Drawing from the experience of last year’s inaugural Old Moses Classic, the organizers, Mt. Kenya Blazers, resolved to set a sub 2hr target for both Swaras and Blazers to conquer the 21km trail. The challenge was widely broadcasted with yours truly pledging a 15yr old John Walker Gold Reserve to the first sub 2 arrival at Old Moses.

At exactly 8.00 am on 30th June, 51 Swaras and Blazers congregated outside the Old House, a serene and exclusive riverside hotel by the bank of Nanyuki River on your way to the Fairmount. A 51 seater yellow bus was revving nearby waiting to ferry the runners to the starting point, about 13kms away from Old House.

At 9.15, the organizer, Wanjohi Macharia announced that all was ready – the game rangers were ready, the wildlife along the trail were ready and more importantly Old Moses was ready to receive us. Two MPs, the Hon. Kiai of Mukurweini and the Hon. Mariru of Laikipia West were also ready. So were the Swaras best hope to subdue Old Moses at sub 2; Jackson Ndegwa, Victor Kamau, Daniel, Sara Wawa and Claire Baker. And so was the vertical elevation of 1300m!

Route profile

My best bet Joshua Cheruiyot was in the group, this time as an observer since he was nursing an injury.

The takeoff was smooth, a gradual uphill of 3km before hitting the Sirimon route turnoff. Victor and Ndegwa slowly created a gap and I lost the yellow t-shirts 5km later.

George Kamunya from blazers chased the two, carefully though. Having been the winner last year at 2.47, he knew what lay ahead. Daniel and Masika built the chase at 7km with no intention of chasing sub 2.

Chairman Ajaa was ahead by a Km, leisurely admiring the pedigree ahead, which Urban Swaras have nurtured under his watch.

Among the ladies, the fast pacing Sara Wawa lead the onslaught, followed closely by Monica Gichuhi and Claire Baker. Wanjira pursued the trio with an eye at the prize. Sara was later to abandon the chase in favour of a musical walk in the park.

From a warm equatorial sunshine, the weather started cooling at 13km just as the gradient picked.

By this time, Victor and Jackson were kms away. I glanced at my Garmin and it was exactly 2hrs from the start, the now famous sub-2 threshold set by Nike for Eliud Kipchoge to conquer the full marathon. Considering the gradient uphill, I had my doubts whether any Swara can break Sub 2, doubts that were confirmed by the 2.09 achieved by Jackson Ndegwa. Victor was behind him at 2.19

As I approached the 3km stretch to the finish, I spotted Wanjira at the winding as she negotiated the last corner. The view of Old Moses from my point of despair was magnificent, made more beautiful by three Swara shirts I could spot from this distance. Suddenly, I reached for my phone to capture the moment. As I was about to click the camera, soft clouds descended upon Old Moses, covering him from any view. It was like a pack of nuns rushing to protect Mother Superior from rape. No photo taken and next thing I was fighting hailstones, thrust upon the trail by a furious Old Moses who felt disturbed by the running activity.

After 3.11, i arrived at Old Moses, same time as last year, No haircut but at a respectable 12th position. Claire was the top lady finisher at 2.39 followed by Monica Gichuhi and Wanjira, both at sub 3.

The fun was at the finish point. Ice cold rain showers welcomed the late comers as the heavens opened. Live cooking of tea progressed. With no one to claim the whiskies, Saxo and Hon. Kiai bid for the double black at the top and it was widely shared among the group.

Back to the Old House at 5:20pm after the yellow bus got stuck in the mud at the Sirimon gate. Dinner was served at 6:15pm and it was a very lovely evening spiced by both Ronaldo’s and Messi’s exit from the World Cup. Hon. Kiai sponsored a happy hour with a 10K contribution, thanking God that he survived the vagaries of Old Moses.

Whereas next year’s men’s target remains at sub 2, it was felt that the ladies target be adjusted to sub 2.30 for them to have a realistic stab at the prize. Next year’s prize will be reloaded to excite the Swaras and Blazers.

A big thank you to Mt. Kenya Blazers and their captain Wanjohi Macharia for organizing what in my view was a run to die for. Why lie, when some of us almost died!!


Running Tales

Old Moses Classic Run: Anyone for sub 2 Next Year?

mt kenya blazersThe 50 seater bus ferrying the Mount Kenya blazers and their Swara guests left the Nanyuki Simba Lodge at 8.00am towards the starting point of the 21 Km super half.

At 8.40am, the timers signaled the start from an altitude of 2079 M above sea level. The finishing point Old Moses is 3381 M above sea level creating an elevation gain of 1.302 M

From the starting point Mt. Kenya was clearly visible in all it’s grandeur, and one could guess where the elevation of 1,302 M would be. Below is the elevated route to Old Moses as captured by Swara alias Masika.

old moses route profileOut of the 44 runners who dared the Old Moses, the fastest clocked 2.47hrs with the majority registering 3.5hrs plus

A very well organized event by all standards, thanks to the Mt. Kenya Blazers who provided water, hot beverages and an excellent buffet and entertainment. Having struggled to register 3.11 together with three of Swaras best, I challenge any Swara to do a sub 2 next year for a bottle of John Walker Gold Label as the prize. Kudos to Claire Baker who was 3rd after 3hrs 2mins

With no entry hussles, reasonable entry fee and the comfort of staying in Nanyuki town, well endowed with classy restaurants, this run will definitely be the runner’s choice for those who will have exhausted Lewa Marathon. It will be scheduled to coincide with Lewa next year.

Thanks again to Mt. Kenya Blazers through their very able captain Wanjohi Macharia. A finish photo below.

old moses classic finishers

Running Tales

MMC Africa Mt Kenya Challenge – The Sirimon to Old Moses 18Km Run

Mt Kenya Challenge 2014 - Karura GroupLaikipia was busy in many ways last weekend. The Lewa Marathon was on, The KCB Safari Rally was in Nanyuki and a new born run, The MMC Africa Mt. Kenya Challenge, was inaugurated in Nanyuki.

The Urban Swaras were represented by Wachira, Macharia and on and off member; Mwaura aka Honi Ambassador. Twenty four seasoned runners, mostly drawn from Karura Runners, participated.

The run kicked off at 7.00a.m sharp on Saturday, 9km from the turnoff to the Sirimon Gate, and upto the Old Moses 18km away. One of the toughest but beautiful trails characterised by the rosewoods of Sirimon, East Africa redwoods, tree groundsels, scarlet flowers, the everlastings, Alpine buttercups, bamboo belt and the moorland grass, this run exceeded all expectations. To underscore how tough the trail is, Honi Ambassador who has recorded 1.10 in Stanchart Half Marathon was the first to report at Old Moses in 2.32. Yours truly was 3rd at 2.37.

To the organizers of the annual Lewa alternative, it is thumbs up. For only Ksh.7,500 p.p. which covered for 2 nights accommodation, dinners, a party at the top at Old Moses and an all night after-run party, this is quite a relief to those who miss Lewa next year, and those bold enough to challenge Mt. Kenya!

See the link below for some of the moments.