So finally it is official. All Swaras are crazy. But, my inspired breakthrough (from breathing all that mountain air) is that, of the Swara species, the female is definitely more crazy than the male. Sample herewith some happenings from a memorable outing, ‘Facing Mt Kenya,’ or rather sliding, ziging and zaging, all over it.
1. Katwa – ‘wild animals be damned.’ He demands to start his run at 4.00am in the morning.
“But there are elephants in the forest.” He is told.
“What elephants? I milk elephants for practice”
So he completes a 45K ‘short’ run, only to be told he missed a turn off to the 56K. He promptly declares he wants to do the full Ultra and does it. By the way 45K is an Ultra Marathon distance already, but who was counting!
2. Joy ‘marathons are for wimps’ – who has never done a full marathon before. But why bother with a piddly 42K when you can do a 56K ultra marathon? From a half marathon to an Ultra Marathon in one step. Now what do you call it when, not one but two Swara women accomplish this feat on the same day? Methinks that that sets the bar for craziness pretty high
3. Ndungu – after surviving 4 waves of pelting rain and mountain clod, concludes we have all suffered enough and decides to call off the run and have everyone evacuated. Forgets the small matter of consulting any Swara about this decision but his lonesome self. Discovers that Swaras have a rather polite way of showing you the middle finger. They simply show you a dirty pair of heels and dare to you to stop them
4. Davis, Nyingi, Ajaa and other elites: Rain. There was rain?
5. Kanana Olubayi and Martin Boelle – the youngest and the oldest Swaras on the trail respectively. After each of them running over 30K, the furthest and hardest of their short/long lives, you would think they would have no energy left to smile. You would think wrong
6. Munyao – ‘Mr potato man’ – is so inspired by the Mt Kenya potatoes that he decides he is going to use them as running fuel. So a mystified cook had boiled and salted some potatoes for him the night before (and somehow managed to resist the urge to make that universal sign for ‘crazy fellow’). From the way Munyao run, the potato fuel clearly worked. So when next you see some strange ‘fruit’ on the Stanchart trail, you know who to thank/blame.
7. Millicent – ‘lost and not found.’ She takes a wrong turn in the forest and promptly gets lost. She calls someone who calls someone else and, wonders of technology, finally gets patched through to the Chairman’s Director of Communications. Message: “I am lost in the forest but don’t you worry about me. I’ll find myself.” She did.
8. All Swaras who came to the mountain – we promised you NO rain; it rained for more than two hours on the trail; you shrugged it off. We promised you a shortened route if the weather went bad. Otora gave you a longer one, 56K; you didn’t even notice. In fact many of you had the energy to drive back to Nairobi after the run. And from what I hear you want to come back next year? Crazzyy!
9. To those who missed the run: the word is that we try to make this an annual event, better organized and scheduled so that people can use the experience to gauge their training for other runs. I am sure we shall be hearing more from the Management Committee about this.
10. Meanwhile if you see Swaras wearing a Mt Kenya Ultra Marathon Tshirt with a certain special swagger, take a moment to pay your respects. They have earned it.