Running Tales



The Dam - the surrounding topography takes the shape of a natural amphitheater.
The Redhill dam – the surrounding topography takes the shape of a natural amphitheater.

It was a hard start. Heck it was an impossible start. Think of a run that starts with a mountain climb.

But, second things first. Sovereign Hotels Restaurant is a real hidden gem. Located off the road to Limuru the restaurants are set on three decks that float on a man made lake. The place is hemmed in by steep hills on all sides. They are still working on the concept but, from what we saw, this is going to be an important destination on the hideaway circuit. The large number of Swaras who had shown up on this cold morning seemed to agree.

The floating restaurant
The floating restaurant

The designer of the place seems to be a Swara – certainly it is not the owner; Mr Kanyotu, who was the longest serving head spook Kenya has ever had, is not only RIP, but he was not known to be a runner. You see, starting from the parking lot, running paths have been constructed that wind their way around the steep hills first all the way up one hill to the top, then all the way back down and yet again. The trails cover four kilometers (Otora said) and despite the winding nature, seem to go more up than down. The ground is soft, comfortable at first but soon a real challenge, especially on the steep slopes. The start of this run was a surreal experience, like trying to run your way out of a giant hole.

To the Man the run reminded him a little bit about Kajiado. You remember the latter half when, suddenly you are surrounded by mountains in every direction and wondering how the hell Otora is planning to get you out? Up the steepest slope possible, that is how. Same difference in this case.

Something else the run reminded one of, or rather someone – Wahome. To those who may not know, this gentleman has discovered and scouted some of the most scenic runs on the Swara calendar. Voi and Tigoni quickly come to mind, but they are not the only ones. How he finds such beautiful trails remains a bit of a mystery. It was not a big surprise then when Wahome confirmed that indeed he was the one responsible for finding today’s run. The trail overlaps in some places with the Tigoni run, but there is so much choice that this need not be a problem in future iterations. This is another shoo in for a permanent slot on the annual calendar.

Wahome tests the new trail
Wahome tests the new trail during the pre-run recce

This is the weekend after the Beijing Athletics World Championships where Kenyans had literary run the World to the ground. In Keeping with this conquering spirit, the Man dreams that this will be the day he finally covers himself, and the entire Swaras fraternity in glory. Opting to run the 30K, he proceeds to set such a monster pace that Nyingi, Walialula, Gilbert, Lopua and the other elites are soon left chocking on the dust left in his wake. Otora frantically tries to ride after him, to give him a bottle of water, but no Boda Boda is going to catch him on this morning. He does not need the water anyway. He finishes the 30 K in nothing flat, grabs a Swara flag and proceeds to do a victory run around the dam; pausing only to do a Kemboi dance and blow kisses at the adoring Swaras who are cheering madly from the floating decks.

Ahem…excuse me Man, wrong dream.

The reality was much more prosaic. The run started well enough, an intended 30K that ended up 25. An early pace, chasing Leif, who it turned out was doing the short, meant that the Man had less energy in reserve when the real hills finally showed up. Clearly some people never learn.

The view from the top
The view from the top 

At around 20K, he hooks up with a pretty young Swara who is the doing 25K.

“I am psyching myself, by shadowing you,” she admits with a smile. He grunts something indistinct in reply. But he is secretly happy for the company.

So for the next 2K or so they run together. She runs easy, with an occasional smile and the light step and even breathing pattern of a conditioned martial artist.  Few words are exchanged between them, none are needed. It is clear that she is willing to go all the way (to the finish). They get to a hill and silently decide to walk. Soon the hill is mounted and she politely asks if the Man would like to start another round; that is if he is not too tired. Which man would say not to such an invitation? Alas his mind has a body of its own which, in solidarity with the teachers, has decided to go on strike. Deflated, he is reduced to watching impotently as she disappears over the horizon.

“Shame I forgot to ask her for her numb…, I mean name” he thinks ruefully to himself.

Thus, having hit the wall, the Man was to walk the entire remaining 5K home, arriving dead last and long after all the tea and juicy gossip had run out. Not one of his most newsworthy outings. But the beauty of the spot that Wahome has found for us more than made up for the disappointment.

We must go back there again.