News

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Swara runs suspended

Urban Swaras Running Club runs are suspended for the foreseeable future, in an effort to join hands with the global movement to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There will therefore be no Swara run this Saturday 21st March. We encourage you to stay active, engage in solo runs, or small group runs respecting official advice on distancing and hygiene. Keep running, stay safe, #RunningIsLiving

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Urban Swaras 21st March @Goshen Gardens, Kikuyu

Dear Swaras,

If you’ve heard a rumour that we’re now called the ‘Urban Swaras Hiking Club’, it’s merely based on a few smaaaall hills that Swaras experienced this weekend. Don’t believe me? Well, join us next time 🙂

The Saturday spent at Run2Gether Training camp in Kijabe was truly inspiring, and what an experience it was being paced by friendly, humble and incredibly talented full-time professional and aspiring professional runners. We just did one run there, but they run in the breathtaking surrounds of Mount Longonot almost every day…and you could tell! As we puffed up Boston Hill, at a snail’s pace, they assured us they could glide up with ease. And that is what comes with hard work, dear Swaras!

We were honoured to be given such a welcome, and they also cooked for us, and invited us back any time! Some Swaras left donations of running gear, but we are now starting an ‘elite’ collection drive, to encourage each and every one of you to pull together whatever kit (running shoes, sports bras, caps, hoodies, socks, etc) in good condition, that the runners can use, and also any cash (no donation too big or too small) or other in-kind donations (rice, sugar, tea, flour, beans, sheets, towels, etc) you would like to offer.

We will be taking donations for the rest of the month, so bring whatever you have along to the runs, or send to the Treasurer accompanied by a text confirming that it is for Run2Gether: 0740912116

Full details and photo highlights in this week’s Starting Line: https://sway.office.com/DGMRZIugHUWWqBUP?ref=Link

Next week’s run

Saturday 21st March we’re heading to Goshen Gardens, Kikuyu, to get a reminder of what tarmac looks and feels like…but only a little bit! Expect up to 90% trail, weaving in and out of the forest, paths and roads of this serene end of Kikuyu. Do bring along any donations you have for Run2Gether, we’ll be collecting them this week and next! If in doubt, just bring it along 🙂 .

Date: Saturday 21st March

Venue: Goshen Gardens, Kikuyu

Distance: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30km

Run type: 90% trail

Breakfast: breakfast is served a la carte, at Goshen Gardens, so you pay for what you consume. Typical breakfast fare at reasonable prices will be on offer be sure to stay for a bite!

Google Maps link to the venue (actually link to the PCEA Chruch, the venue is behind the church): https://goo.gl/maps/1Kv7devnpBxtV1be9

Registration: Registration is required, please register by Thursday 19th March https://forms.gle/nMr9LWgm5FrdN8hH6

Guests: As always, guest fees of 500ksh apply. Please share the following link with anyone interested in joining the club for the first time: http://urbanswaras.co.ke/new-members/

Full details, as always, in the Starting Line: https://sway.office.com/DGMRZIugHUWWqBUP?ref=Link

#GoToGoshen

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Urban Swaras 14th March @ Run2gether Training Camp, Kijabe

The big theme on this Saturday’s run was sunshine and rain. We got plenty of both, but to summarize, our yellow tees truly bring the sun! Those who had run in Moshi the week before were taking slower strides than normal, and those running at Beyond Zero the day after were also trying not to literally ‘break a leg’ as the saying goes. But more than 50 of us gathered at Spring Valley Oven and had a great time on the trail, and even managed to get relatively unmuddy! Thanks to Spring Valley Oven for providing free parking and tasty breakfasts a la carte.

The post-run stretching was also exemplary, and long may it continue! If you want to lead a stretching session, just go ahead, it’s always good for us and we can learn some new exercises.

The Starting Line is full of photos and commentary on this run and also Beyond Zero Half Marathon, and we also celebrate a very special Swara, so don’t miss it! https://sway.office.com/XnFwFac2EqAPkKaN?ref=Link

Saturday 14th March we will be going for a very exciting run, which will see us rubbing shoulder with Kenya’s elites. We’ll be joining the Swara poster boy Dennis Lopua and his training mates at Run2gether camp in Kijabe. We will get to run with some professional Kenyan runners, share breakfast together, put on by the club in conjunction with Run2gether (so no charge to runners), and we will also get some fresh air in the beautiful Nakuru County!

Next week’s run

Date: Saturday 14th March

Venue: Run2gether Training Camp, Longonot Nakuru County

Distance: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30km

Run type: 120% trail, bring your trail shoes!

Breakfast: breakfast will be provided at no cost to all runners, provided you register in advance!

Google Maps link to the venue: https://goo.gl/maps/UQ3nkEVkkBF7B34E7

Directions to the venue: The Camp is about 70 km away from the City Centre.

To get there, get onto the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway, and go past Sigona, Limuru, Uplands, Kijabe junction and Soko Mjinga. About 1 km from the fly over shopping centre, you will see Kobil Petrol Station on the left after which begin some road guard rails. Turn left at the end of the rails, that is about 1 km from the Kobil and drive down. Chalk marks will guide you to the Camp. It takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to the Camp, and the run will start at 8 a.m., so please leave for the run accordingly.

Registration: Registration is required so as to plan for breakfast with the training camp, please register by Wednesday 11th March https://forms.gle/6xJm7rHFoi2iANRd6

Guests: As always, guest fees of 500ksh apply. Please share the following link with anyone interested in joining the club for the first time: http://urbanswaras.co.ke/new-members/

All of this and much, much more in the Starting Line: https://sway.office.com/XnFwFac2EqAPkKaN?ref=Link
#LetsRun2Gether

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Urban Swaras 7th March @ Spring Valley Oven

Swaras, Swaras,

I don’t know what to say! I’m still floating on top of the clouds (much like the peak of Kili herself most days), after a phenomenal weekend in Moshi for the 2020 Kilimanjaro Marathon!

The atmosphere was electric and I’ve honestly never seen so many smiling faces on such killer hills! We truly did invade Moshi like a yellow plague of locusts, but ones that bring laughter, determination, maiden marathons and killer PBs! Well done to you all, and THANK YOU to all who supported, you’re too many to name, and I’d be afraid to not do each one of you justice 🙂

For those who came to Karura Forest, the running was just as energetic, so thank you for turning up! As always, come rain, shine, or international marathons, there will always be a Swara run!

In this week’s Starting Line we have a shining account from one of our newer members, Sheila, who deserves a huge hats-off for sheer guts! See her account, and some photo highlights from amongst the hundreds of brilliant snapshots in the Starting Line: https://sway.office.com/6ggLmZkXg2YF0S0N?ref=Link

See you all next year for Kili 2021!

Next week’s run

This week’s run will be from Spring Valley Oven (home to the best cheesiest bagels and prettiest latte art I’ve found in the city), giving us all a chance to stay close to home, stretch our legs, plan for our next adventures, and share stories! Plenty of new members are interested in joining us after Kilimanjaro, so let’s all welcome any new runners, as they start on their exciting Swara journey 🙂

(Then the next day, Sunday 8th March I hope to see as many of you as possible at the Beyond Zero Half Marathon…let’s support a charitable cause, and a major run on our home turf. The organizers actually invited all recreational running clubs to be a part of the planning process, so we’re excited to see how it goes! See you all there.)

Date: Saturday 7th March

Venue: Spring Valley Oven, Spring Valley

Distance: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30km

Run type: Half trail, half non-trail

Breakfast: breakfast can be taken at your leisure at Spring Valley Oven Restaurant

Google Maps link to the venue: https://goo.gl/maps/cqxoJQaicDnRs5vW6

Directions to the venue: Spring Valley Oven is on Lower Kabete Road, just next to the Total Petrol Station.

Registration: Register here: https://forms.gle/uwugDCCNDg2AfBPJ6

Guests: As always, guest fees of 500ksh apply. Please share the following link with anyone interested in joining the club for the first time: http://urbanswaras.co.ke/new-members/

Once again, I can’t stop smiling after that beautiful running weekend; let’s keep that Swara Spirit!

Link to Starting Line: https://sway.office.com/6ggLmZkXg2YF0S0N?ref=Link

#RunningIsLiving

News

Urban Swaras 29th February @ Karura Forest / Kilimanjaro Marathon

Next week’s run

Some of us have been training for months, whilst for some it’s a spur of the moment decision, to ferry themselves down to Moshi for the 2020 Kilimanjaro Marathon. Either way, more than 100 Swaras will be taking part in this iconic marathon which enjoys breathtaking views of Africa’s tallest mountain. There’s a 5km, a 21km and a 42km (only registration for the 5km is still open). For those coming to Moshi, full details are below please do read all of it carefully.

For those not coming to Moshi, there’s still a run for you in Nairobi!

Date: Saturday 29th February 7am

Venue: Karura Forest, Limuru Road car park

Distance: There will be no Swara marks, we will be using the signposted routes. The Karura side has a 5, 10 and 15km route, and the Sigiria side (cross Limuru Road, and 50m up on your left is a gate to this side) there is a 5km and 10km, so you can play around and get all sorts of different combinations, from 5 to 45km!

Run type: 100% forest!

Breakfast: Can be taken at your leisure at either River Cafe, within the forest, or at Java House, up the road.

Google Maps link to the venue: https://goo.gl/maps/R8Ey87jZ5mVY4on4A

Directions to the venue: The car park is just off Limuru Road, at the dip before you head up towards Gigiri, just after the Belgian Embassy.

Registration: Registration is not required, turn up and run!

Guests: As always, guest fees of 500ksh apply. Please share the following link with anyone interested in joining the club for the first time: http://urbanswaras.co.ke/new-members/

For those attending Kilimanjaro Marathon, please see the Starting Line for full details on logistics, bibs, transport, accommodation, and paperwork. This information is very important, so please read it all in full: https://sway.office.com/2qeDowqT65OFIsbx?ref=Link

NB: There will be no speed work this week, so use the time to mentally prepare for Kili, or do your own race pace run.

Have a great running week!

#KillKili

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Urban Swaras 22nd February @ Adams Arcade

This week we hand over to Monica Mirigo, a Swara diasporan who has rejoined the ranks of Swaras on home turf, and what better way to re-baptise herself a Swara than by not only running Graceland but also giving us all a rerun of the unforgettable events! Over to Monica, in this week’s Starting Line: https://sway.office.com/jcbVzdYrwVLQppgr?ref=Link

Next week’s run

This week we’re bringing it back home to Nairobi, specifically to Adams Arcade, on Ngong Road, for a flat(ish) run with no options of marathon-style distances, so that those who did Graceland can recover, those who are doing Kilimanjaro Marathon can taper (anyone who doesn’t know what that means form an orderly queue behind me, maybe someone will enlighten us!), and everyone in between can choose their distance and share an encouraging breakfast!

Date: Saturday 22nd February 7am

Venue: Adams Arcade, Ngong Road, meeting point in the car park (spot the sea of yellow t shirts)

Distance: 5, 10,15, 20, and 25km.

Run type: mostly an urban run, true to our name!

Breakfast: Breakfast is to be taken at your leisure at Java, Adams Arcade where you pay for what you consume.

Google Maps link to the venue: https://g.page/adams-arcade?share

Directions to the venue: Take Ngong Road in the direction of the Junction Mall. Adams Arcade is on your left just after Prestige Mall and GreenHouse mall, behind the Total Petrol station.

Facilities: Breakfast available on site, plenty of parking, standard KAPS parking fees apply

Registration: Registration is required, please fill out your details here: https://forms.gle/cKnk4xSSTJuMPwcs9

Guests: As always, guest fees of 500ksh apply. Please share the following link with anyone interested in joining the club for the first time: http://urbanswaras.co.ke/new-members/
This week’s Starting Line not only has a selection of photographic highlights from Graceland Upcountry Run, but also a Google Drive link to the photos of the Ultra Marathoners receiving their medals and prizes. But truth be told, every one who ran is prize-worthy, and most of all Wachira Nderitu, who put the whole event on, in aid of disadvantaged students of Graceland Girls’ Secondary School, so three cheers for him (let me hear you). Contributions can be made to the school’s bursary fund by m pesa 0722 557 854. Link to the Starting Line: https://sway.office.com/jcbVzdYrwVLQppgr?ref=Link
#AdamsAndEvesIt

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Urban Swaras 15th February @ Graceland, Chaka, Nyeri County

We already knew that pouring rain, beating sun, threats of natural disasters, and city-wide traffic shutdowns can’t stop Swaras, but now we see that even a grave misspelling can’t stop Swaras on a Saturday morning! What was advertised as ‘Shade Lounge’ was in fact ‘The Shed’. Either way, we came to run, and my my we certainly did! We had takers for all the distances, from 5km to 35km, with a glorious (not sure if that’s really the right adjective) staircase at the final stretch to crown it all. It truly was a beautiful run, and perfect terrain to put our February fitness levels to the test!

Breakfast was a leisurely affair on the first floor of the shed (yes, this was a fancy shed with more than one storey), with many mandazis, samosas, and cups of tea circulating, as everyone rested and stretched and massaged their hard-worked muscles. Buzz around Graceland was audible, with everyone looking forward to the big annual run, see details below! Once again, it was a delight to see so many new faces, keep it up!

Check out the Starting Line for pictures of the run: https://sway.office.com/AphBsOdUTyExznHG?ref=Link

Next week’s run

Graceland has a special place in many people’s hearts, as a second home (outside of Nairobi) to the Urban Swaras, and as an exemplary educational institution for talented young girls. 

Every year Swaras come out in force for the Graceland Upcountry Run, which is now incredibly in its 9th edition, and is an official feature on the Swaras calendar! 

Long-time Swara Wachira Nderitu is the driving force behind this charity run, to raise money for the bursary fund for Graceland Girls, and he has already shared some details, but here they are once again, as well as a video to get you geared up: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fGI1D1gXh1BgUGxlpPFkdmejCEZbRgJ_/view?usp=sharing

The Graceland Upcountry Run is happening on Saturday 15th February, at Graceland School, Chaka, Nyeri County (link to venue: https://goo.gl/maps/sL8WFUnsJaehi6bQ8). This is approximately 2.5-3 hours from Nairobi, set in rolling hills and beautiful greenery.

The distances are 15km, 25km and 45km. the 15 and 25km are flagged off at 8.30am, the 45km will be flagged off at 7am. 

generous and extremely social dinner will be served by the host, Wachira, at Graceland School, on the Friday 14th February from 7.30pm…wine and whisky included for those who so wish!

There are several accommodation options to choose from.The newest hotel near Graceland is Beakin Resort which is supporting the run by charging 2k per double down from 4k. They have 20 rooms.

The other ones are Thego Resort charging 2k, and Safari Halt  in Chaka City charging 1800 ksh.The Chaka Ranch Tented Camp is a high-end facility which is available at 12k per double.Early booking is recommended. More information coming soon, but feel free to make your bookings early.

Register with Wachira directly, and contact him with any queries: wach.wn@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you all there!

See attached a write-up on last year’s inaugural Graceland Ultra by none other than yours truly (your MC, Secretary, Claire Baker, when she was just a plain average Swara who liked to play with words). Perhaps some of you will be equally inspired to write about this year’s experience…

Date: Saturday 15th February, 7am (45km), 8.30am (15km and 25km)

Venue: Graceland School, Chaka, Nyeri County

Distance: 15, 25 and 45km

Run type: majority trail, and plenty of up and down!

Google Maps link to the venue: https://goo.gl/maps/WLjBoBeCNjELVN8VA

Directions to the venue: Graceland is 2.5-3hrs from central Nairobi. Follow directions to Nyeri Town, veer a right at Marua, then continue until Chaka town, where you take a right turn across the railway, following signs to Chaka Ranch. Take a right turn off the tarmac road at the next sign for Chaka Ranch, then take a left on the dirt road to continue to Graceland (you will see a sign for Graceland). Please follow Google Maps to be sure!

Speaking of causes, contact me with a worthy cause you would like the Swaras to support as a club this year, all suggestions are welcome! See details, as well as last-minute Kili details and a message from the Treasurer and from our resident speed expert, in this week’s Starting Line: https://sway.office.com/AphBsOdUTyExznHG?ref=Link

#ACauseToGetBehind

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Urban Swaras 8th February @ Shade Lounge, Mwimuto

Dear Swaras, 

Any self-respecting person waking up at 5.30am on a Saturday morning to a downpour would stay in bed and turn around for a few more hours of kip. But not a Swara! Despite the heavy rains, a bevvy of veteran Swaras and new runners alike flocked to Tigoni for what was, admittedly, a spectacular run.

Despite some mild slippy-sliding, the mood was euphoric, and people saw some stunning scenery. Special thanks were given to Masika, and to Benja, our Trail Fox, for doing a stellar job on support and marking despite the heavens not being on our side. Thanks to all who came, and made this Saturday run such a success.

Next week’s run

This run consistently ranks high on the ‘favourite run venue’ of Swaras when asked to cite their favourites. And you ask for trail, we give you trail! Once again, this is a run where breakfast is up to you, but we ask you to register to help us to plan everything just so for you all 🙂 We hope you’re pushing yourself, or doing yourself proud in whatever way feels right for you, and so we’re giving you some nice long runs, with this one going up to 35km, but also a 5km for beginners who are just learning how much they love running!

Date: Saturday 8th February 7am

Venue: Shade Lounge, Getathuru Road, Mwimuto

Distance: 5, 10,15, 20, 30, and 35km.

Run type: majority trail, and plenty of up and down!

Breakfast: Breakfast is to be taken at your leisure at the restaurant, where you pay for what you consume.

Google Maps link to the venue: https://goo.gl/maps/9bsQx5F4NWYn3a1EA

Registration: Registration is required, please fill out your details here: https://forms.gle/6YkwkreyDBXnKTij6

Guests: As always, guest fees of 500ksh apply. Please share the following link with anyone interested in joining the club for the first time: http://urbanswaras.co.ke/new-members/

A huge thank you to everyone who’s been sharing their photos! On every Starting Line you’ll find a selection of the bunch, as well as news on upcoming runs across the country, Treasurer’s Corner, and special news (this week we’re asking YOU for charitable causes you want the club to support). Don’t miss out! https://sway.office.com/t0favd8eEzICwjhy?ref=Link

#YourClubYourNews

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Urban Swaras 1st February @ Tigoni Tea Trail (Gulf Petrol Station, Tigoni)

Those of us who are regular Swaras look forward to this run with great anticipation, and many make the pilgrimage even outside of the official Swara run, perfect training for hilly marathons. Those of you who are new to the Swaras, what a treat you have in store for you this week!

The time has come, for the Tigoni Tea Plantations Trail!

Date: Saturday 1st February 7am

Venue: Gulf Petrol Station, Kabuku-Tigoni Road, Tigoni

Distance: 5, 10,15, 20, 30, 35 and 40km.

Run type: majority trail, and plenty of up and down!

Breakfast: Breakfast is to be taken at your leisure at the cafe within the Gulf petrol station, where you pay for what you consume (very fairly priced tea, pancakes, samosas, sausages, etc.)

Google Maps link to the venue: https://goo.gl/maps/WS7anMqyQiYraavB6

Directions to the venue:

The Waiyaki Way Route.

This route is approximately 32 Kilometers from Nairobi City.

– Leave Nairobi along the Naivasha/Nakuru road.

– On the highway, take a left turn at Rironi, join Narok road.

– At the T-Junction, take a right turn. 

– Pass under a bridge and continue until the Bata  sign (red and white in colour) on your left.

– Take a left at the sign.

– Proceed past Limuru Milk Processors (on right).

– Continue under the train bridge, and take a right  turn at the T-Junction. 

– Stay on this road, pass Limuru Children’s Center,  Tigoni Hospital, and various shops.

– Look for the “Brackenhurst Conference Center”  sign on the right. Ahead you will see a Gulf Petrol  station. 

The Village Market Route.

This route is approximately 35 Kilometers from Nairobi City.

– Stay on Limuru Road, passing Runda Estate on  your right, and drive to Ruaka Town. 

– As you get into Ruaka town, look for the  Brackenhurst sign at the junction and turn right  onto  Banana Hill Road.

– Drive on past Mucatha, Kentmere Club, and  Limuru Girls School. 

– Stay on the main road until you see a Gulf Petrol  station on your right.

Facilities: parking is limited so please carpool where possible (carpooling is always encouraged amongst Swaras).

Registration: Registration is required, please fill out your details here: https://forms.gle/XVjiVV1BgoDqg6vh8

Guests: As always, guest fees of 500ksh apply. Please share the following link with anyone interested in joining the club for the first time: http://urbanswaras.co.ke/new-members/

News

Urban Swaras 25th January @The Forest, Kimende, Kereita Forest

It’s fortunate that your MC doesn’t need her legs to type, or this Starting Line would never have seen the light of day…after the hills, hills and more hills on Saturday’s Matasia Loop run from Ngong County Office, my legs are ruing the day they ever came into existence! But boy was it worth it. The scenery was breathtaking, as breathtaking as the hills, and there was a huge crowd of Swaras to tackle them, with some very welcome new runners from Team Jasho in the mix!

Our apologies if anyone didn’t get the level of support they expected, as our Trail Fox and Swara Support vehicle were busy re-marking certain sections that had been washed away by overnight rains. Though we always advise carrying some small change or water/supplies with you if you’re doing a long distance, we also strive to get at least water to every runner on the trail on our Saturday runs. We look forward to seeing you all again soon!

We’re on the lookout for Swaras with stories to tell for the upcoming Swara newsletter. We know everyone loves it, now YOU can be a part of it! Reach out to Jerusha with your ideas: usrc.editor@gmail.com 

Next week’s run

Did you know that there is the forest and then there’s The Forest? Well, this Saturday, we’re running from The Forest, the adventure playground for grown-ups set in the dreamy Kereita Forest. This run was first introduced to the Swara calendar last year, and it caused a bit of a stir: the hills are legendary, the grass is as green as a porcelain doll’s eyes, and the effort is rewarded with the greatest sense of satisfaction and one of the best buffet and breakfast selections this side of Limuru!

Date: Saturday 25th January, 7.30am (please note the later starting time to allow travel time, and please allow extra travel time due to ongoing roadworks on Naivasha/Nakuru Highway)

Venue: The Forest, Kimende, Kereita Forest

Distance: 10,15, 20, 30 and 35km.

Run type: almost 100% trail, this is one of the most beautiful Swara runs on the calendar, so bring your trail shoes and your camera

Breakfast: Breakfast, brunch or lunch can be taken at your leisure at the on-site restaurant.

Google Maps link to the venue: https://goo.gl/maps/Hq6tNp4drWMysXtr8

Directions to the venue: BE CAREFUL! Google Maps will try and direct you a different route, so be sure to follow these instructions: follow Naivasha Road towards Nakuru past the Limuru exit and past Uplands, then take a left at the Kimende Total Petrol Station (the turn is just to the left hand side of the petrol station, and then follow signs to The Forest’.

Facilities: plenty of parking, toilets on site, restaurant, many activities to enjoy after the run including zip-lining, archery, mountain biking. Why not make a day of it! All activities at your own cost, check out the website for more details.

Registration: Registration is required, please fill out your details here: https://forms.gle/zxVhxZ3P4gDk2SgE8

Please pay for entrance using M-Pesa.

Go to M-Pesa, Lipa Na Mpesa, Buy Goods and send Kshs 200 per person to Till Number 912957 Recipient: Kereita Wilderness Ventures.

Important: Save the transaction message for proof of payment.Please pay this in advance to ease the entry logistics process.

Guests: As always, guest fees of 500ksh apply. Please share the following link with anyone interested in joining the club for the first time: http://urbanswaras.co.ke/new-members/

There were so many photos to choose from for this week’s Starting Line, we didn’t know where to start! Check them out in this week’s Starting Line: https://sway.office.com/l14X1yGweg4Ljm9c?ref=Link

#TheOneAndOnlyForest