Inaugural Olepolos Run: Battle of Wits Against a Formidable Trail!

olepolos shem2Amazing scenes were witnessed yesterday in Olepolos when the Swaras descended on the sleepy town of Kisamis in a convoy of vehicles. No doubt the locals must have known that there was something major in the offing with wave upon wave of vehicles arriving bearing their unsuspecting passengers…

Although the run was to kick off at 7.30am, most had arrived well before that time and were huddled in groups catching up as they waited for the off. A chilly morning it was and we could barely make out Ngong hills, obscured by thick mist, in whose shadow the run is set.

The chief instigator of the whole plot was conspicuously absent, and just when we thought he had abandoned his charges to their own devices, the chairman emerged from his hideout to give the customary pre-run briefing and blow his whistle. The most disconcerting bit was when he disclosed that he had no idea what lay ahead, while inviting the group to discover it…

olepolos shem1For a run that had been touted as having taken two days to mark, one would do well to approach with caution. The first few kilometres consisted of several switchbacks that brought you close to the crest of Ngong Hills. Thereafter you were taken through the undulating terrain and different running surfaces right to the bottom of the Kedong’ valley.

It certainly lived up to its billing: rugged, scenic, punishing and rewarding all at once! Aside from some very steep ascents at the 6Km mark and at the very end, the course took you through acacia forests here, a veritable moonscape of strewn volcanic stones there and some scattered homesteads along the way…

It was the best of runs, it was the worst of runs. Some parts of the course were so treacherous that a number of Swaras had their seemingly unbounded energies earthed by having to kiss the ground! My sincere commiserations to all those who suffered that unhappy fate though mercifully no major injuries to report.

olepolos runStill, it was not all that torturous, doom and gloom. It also offered some rewards for each exacting segment of the run. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the run was the beautiful dam that those who went beyond 15km encountered. Never mind that encircling the reservoir involved clambering over rocks for the most part on the southern side but the sight of shimmering water and the lapping sound in the gentle breeze was quite a welcome distraction…

Battered, bruised and clearly beat from the run, most (if not all!) arrived at the finish clearly spent. Personally, I barely managed to drag myself and stagger to the end and the welcome sight of Nanyori Cafe. Here a feast to end all feasts and succour our sapped energies awaited like the promised land. The food and service was simply excellent, catering to different tastes and on point.

And so it goes that despite the Swaras tendency to push the limits, sometimes coming so close to self-destruction, we had nevertheless survived the arduous run and  will live to do battle with it another day. I believe I’m not the only one who is definitely looking forward to test my endurance there again, hopefully sooner than later. Having done only 20 Otora-Kms (that turned out to be 25km on the conventional scale!), guess that covers only one day’s route marking and I’ll need to see what was marked on the second day…

See you there on the trail, meanwhile keep running!

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