Running Tales

Stanchart Nairobi Marathon 2012 – My Take

Date: October 28, 2012

Post marathon, I am nursing a flu that was steadily creeping up pre-marathon, and which saw me run with a jacket throughout in order to forestall the effects- it didn’t work. I am therefore a sneezy, nose blowing, coughing mess, and not many people want to hang around me. Left alone with my thoughts, reflections and lemon mixed with ginger-garlic-honey-vodka-turmeric-cardamom, and whatever else anyone suggests, I have a chance to reflect on the Stanchart Nairobi Marathon.

Every once in a while, something happens that defines a turning point of sorts, that gives an indication of greater things. I believe that the Stanchart Nairobi Marathon 2012 marks such a point for the Urban Swaras, in more ways than one. First, I was amazed at how the club has grown, to a point that I no longer know everyone’s name, and few remember mine. Second, the number of Swaras that made their full marathon debut was astounding, and lastly, the coordination that saw to it that we had food, refreshments and cheer at Abdi’s (with a banner to boot!) was laudable.

In the year God knows what (Need to ask Jael and Co. for the exact dates and facts), Urban Swaras, as a club, did not even exist. What existed were just a few fitness-loving Kenyans whose idea of fun was to tire their calf muscles and injure hamstrings by running long distances. These individuals attracted other individuals with inclination to similar madness, and soon, a size-able group could be identified.  The group then decided to take a name, emails flew around, some names were floated, and the name Urban Swaras garnered the most votes. Then there was the logo, then the T-shirts, then the membership fee and subscription, the constitution, then the elections, then the more seriously organized runs with the fruit and water, then the celebratory goats and music and other kinds of water. Then the mailing list and the website and google group, and finally me standing at Abdi’s on Sunday and looking at faces and wondering: how come I don’t know everybody? And I know several Swaras were asked by other runners along the Marathon route: “Where can we find your club? How do we join?”

Our own members; Fran, Eleanor, Kimmie, Ferrah, Loise, Nancy, Leif, Ajaa, Amai, James, Patrick, Ndichu and Raoul put themselves out there for 42Km. And we cheered them like crazy, and jumped up and down even though our legs were not quite steady after trying to chase personal bests in the 21Km league. Some of us mastered the art of escaping several attempts by Tata to dispatch us to the round about to fetch yet another full marathoner who had been sighted heading for the finish. I was rather comfortable in the camp that waited for them to round the bend before cheering them hoarse and running the little bit I could with some.  Meanwhile, my heart was bursting with pride. We were united in common joy and everyone’s achievement felt in every bit as though it was mine. Most of these guys’ faces at the last kilometre had an array of emotions which I tried to decipher without success. I leave each of them to describe in their own words (over a drink) what they felt in their hearts, minds, bodies, and especially, their legs in the last kilometres.

Then there was the coordination.  For most of us, when we pay up amounts we are asked to, we have done our part. Rarely do the behind-the-scenes activities cross our minds. But take time today to think of madam coordinator, a person whose terms of reference get expanded arbitrarily without any commensurate increase to her time. She is also adept at sniffing around for all kinds of opportunities for Swaras, and then goes ahead to make sure they happen, even at minimal notice (recall Naivasha Relay 2012?).  When I saw MC and Mercy  at Total in South C with (what was that? Juice or Gatorade?) whatever they gave me, I saw dedication personified, and I drank whatever it was, just out of sheer gratitude.

Today, take time to appreciate how far we have come both as individuals, and as a club in piling up our miles and kilometres, and also appreciate how far we still have to go. Take time to also appreciate the team at the helm, which really does a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure that things happen. Then take time to appreciate yourself. Each day you run, you increase your mileage, and you become better. So to all of you: I am proud to be part of this team. Let’ continue to up our game! ….And let’s have yet another introductory session.