FACING MT KENYA, TAKE 3

They were united by their love for running; but, other than that, they came for all sorts of reasons. Some for the scenery, some to conquer the mountain, others to commune with mountainous pachyderms. But what almost all of them ended up doing on Saturday 24th September was to conquer themselves, yet again. Some did this by setting new distance and endurance records, some set new records in sheer obstinate grit and never say die attitude.  In this, our biggest, and longest Ultra Marathon to date did not disappoint. It is impossible to capture all the stories of triumph and near disaster, in any case most of them have been much better told.  But here is my small sample:

  1. My witch doctor is better than yours: The weather really held up this time. It was dry, despite an early threat of rain in the morning and the smug looks on some peoples faces (Cheruiyot) as they gleefully informed me that I may have to ask for a refund from my ‘Mundu Mugo’. But I had secured the services of the best rain stopper in Central Kenya and he did not disappoint. Now I have him working on my premiere league bets. I promise to buy you a beer with my first million.
  1. How some people find themselves going to hell: Njagi has always sworn that he will never run a marathon. So, somewhere near Karatina University, he flags me down and declares imperiously “I demand to get into your car.” I meekly oblige. He is on the 41st KM by then and he is clearly not happy with someone. Then a conversation ensues and it turns out he was only 1.5K from the finish. Suddenly he changes his mind and demands to be let off. Next I see him he is actually sprinting. When I see him at the end, over 42K done, he is still muttering darkly about certain people who have got themselves on a fast track to hell. But, try as he does; he can’t quite wipe off the proud look on his face.
  1. We are not amused: The first time I hear that the Ultra has turned out to be a 65K slog, I am in complete denial. Otora can not do this to us. Then I meet Victor, Davis and Cheruiyot and they confirm it. Turns out Otora had thrown in the beautiful Kiamucheru hill loop, one we have always wanted do but kept cutting off due to bad weather. But then he forgot to make a similar reduction elsewhere. At some point the trail Queen staggers into the finish at Oldoiyo Lengai. She can barely stand but she is smiling as always.  But despite the weak smile, I can tell that her Majesty is royally pissed. “I will kill Otora,” she declaims. “Who gave him the authority to make a 65K?” Two hours later, having missed Otora I start searching for him with some trepidation, only to find him in the restaurant having a meal. Happily his head still seems to be attached to his neck.
  1. Is it legal to club MK and throw him into a car?: If there was a medal for sheer stubbornness MK, Molly, Emeka and Fera would certainly have bagged an armful. I tried to get them to hop into the evacuation car several times, thinking they were looking much the worse for wear. MK say says “I can not drop out and still remain the Patron of the club.” Emeka, “I have to get that medal.” Moly, “I have to finish.” Fera “I have leg cramps, getting into your cramped car will be more painful, so better just run.”
  1. Some people came into this world to make me feel bad: One day later I am at the airport. I hear a shout and look behind me. Who do I see? Our World wandering Swara, Joy Owango herself. This time she is off to exotic Abyssinia. From her perky smile, there is absolutely no sign that she ran 65Km less that 24 hours prior. In fact, between the two of us, it is me who looks half dead, no doubt from all that cheap Russian vodka that Ajaa, TQ, Fera, Maureen et al made me drink for half the night before. When I grow up….
  1. So, what next? Otherwise many Swaras commented on the improvements despite the longer distance. The run support was better than before, the locals as friendly as always and the medal was a great motivation. Some people (Victor, Davis, Ajaa, MK, Joy, Loise, Nyawira etc) even want us to make this run bigger and keep the 65K distance. But these are not normal people by any means. So we would like to hear from you regular mortals. Tell us what you think. Feel free to criticize any aspect of the run; well, except my horrible people skills (that one we shall leave to my wife). Where do you think we should go with this run? How long should it be? Do you plan to run next year? What can we do better? Post your thoughts on the group email: urban-swaras@googlegroups.com . Let us have a conversation.


PHOTO STORY

Off to a smiling start

Off to a smiling start

Front runners

Front runners

A stubborn back runner

A stubborn back runner

Forest section; still smiling

Forest section; still smiling

Ha! Who is laughing now?

Ha! Who is laughing now?

Dam hot and dusty

Dam hot and dusty

Out of the forest, but not out of the woods

Out of the forest, Kabiruini. Going up blackberry hill

Kagochi, end of the road

Kagochi,  end of the road – for 37K

Two legs good; two wheels better

Two legs good; two wheels better

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MEDALS AWARD CEREMONY

That is all mine? Njagi seems to be asking

Wow! That medal is all mine? Njagi seems to be asking

More awarded - still some to go

More awarded – still some to go

Even the prodigal daughter, Susan, pitches in

Even our prodigal daughter, Susan, pitches in

Some of the proud medalists

Some of the proud medalists

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2 Responses to FACING MT KENYA, TAKE 3

  1. James Waliaula says:

    Well done Ndungu! I have a feeling that you have done the difficult part of sowing the seed. I can I only see this ultra growing into something big in the near future. I somehow keep missing this event every year but I purpose to make my debut in it next year. Good stuff!

  2. Ndungu Kahihu says:

    Thank you James. And congratulations on another great outing in Berlin. We watched part of the run in the hotel at Karatina

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