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.
Its 4am on a random weekday, my alarm goes off and I drag myself out of bed wearily. The morning cold hits me in a rush as I push the warm blankets away. The temptations to go back are higher than getting out to fulfill my marathon training schedule. I am lucky this time, the latter overshadows the former. 30 mins later, I’m on the road to the gym with music playing in the car stereo to get me in the mood for my morning Run. The same routine is repeated every day, with speed runs and hill reps being my nightmarish days.
The 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.
This man Otora is either a genius or a sadist, or both! (Mensa & BDSM Anonymous, anyone?) Loved and loathed by Swaras in about equal measure: usually loved before the start of a run and perhaps during the early stages when all is smooth, then loathed when the going gets tough usually way into the run when the end is nowhere in sight and support is faltering, and then loved some minutes after the run when each person’s equilibrium has been restored.
Zinekele: It takes all of you to become a Comrade’s runner. It isn’t lack of better words that the organizers of the Comrades use this catch phrase for the go luck running the Comrades. The meticulous planning, immense discipline, focus, sheer gritty determination and perseverance might not be enough to even get you anywhere near Pietermaritzburg, also known as the City of Choice that sleeps easyon Sunday evenings. But I guess hardly many were sleeping easy on the Sunday of June 4, 2017, when the Gun goes off at 5.30 P.M to signal the final cutoff after 12 hours of toil and pain.
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.
Those people who normally pass by Voi town on their way to Mombasa or to the rest of the coast know a few things about this town. The town is small but very busy and is way ahead of Nairobi and other towns in their quest to become 24-hour economies. The town is also surrounded by towering and scenic hills that wink and make seductive calls to hikers and runners alike. A number of Swaras known to me had in the past confessed to me about an insatiable lust for an affair with those hills whenever they passed by Voi, and if and when an opportunity would arise, they would consummate this desire.
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.