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(Plagiarism alert: Today’s piece is stolen from better writers than I, including: Rudyard Kipling, Haruki Murakami, Chris McDougall, Raoul Kamadjieu, Jack London and others. Can you tell what is stolen from whom?)
If you can take the worst that Otora can throw at you
The hills of Kajiado, the mountains of Iten and the marshes of Kikuyu
It you can do a 40K run, and wake up next morning to do a 10K recovery
If you can run long after your mind has said your body will die (it’s a lie)
If you can do this early on a Saturday morn, when normal humans are asleep
And suffer and still come back next week and do it all over again
Then yours is the craziness of the trail and the glory of the run
And, what is more, you’ll be a true Urban Swara, my friend.
There are many good reasons to take part in the annual Osotua run. Let us start with the scenery. It is simply to die for. If you have not been, may I suggest you stop reading this and check out the photos that Roul posted on the Swaras facebook page. Or, if you like Victor more, here you go.
Go on and look. I’ll wait.
Every Saturday with the Swaras is an experience to remember, but an unfortunately small number of the runs really leave a lasting impact on the communities we, affectionately, trounce upon; well, aside from the carelessly discarded water bottles and plastic wrappers (you know who you are, people 🙂 ). December 19th finally brought real opportunity to benefit the less fortunate, but first things first… the run!
What is Scouting?
Most swaras have wondered how the memorable trails they run every Saturday are discovered. Others have posed the question to Chairman. Therefore the ‘Scout masters’ decided to drag along a few of the curious ones on one such engagement.
So scouting is, ‘agreeing on a geographical area to be scouted, run around it looking for trails, getting lost, hitting dead ends, and if lucky getting back to where you started from. At the end of it, a run route is born (loosely chairman’s words)’. In retrospect, it is a ‘dark art’ as a Swara (Shem) had correctly speculated.
Last Saturday took the Swaras to the KEFRI Institute off of the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway. The email had specifically mentioned that it was going to be a run that was reletively flat by “swara standards,” something which newbies, one of whom was travelling with Jimmy and I called James, might have been wondering what that meant, although for some reason i’m thinking Swara Runs may already have developed a certain reputation outside Swara circles. For whatever reason, James’ wife had decided overnight against coming.
Reading Ndungu’s stories has led me to be a spectator of runs and enjoying the Monday stories after the hilly runs… runs I always thank God I didn’t attend. I read it once, then read it again, and at times reserve the story for after lunch when I am easing away. The herbs, the number of trees and bars only make me long to hear more. So Ndungu, please know you have me as your ardent follower.
Ndakaini is one of those places that has managed to build a reputation of being something of a giant killer. This fearsome attribute has become such stuff of legend with reports of an impossibly hilly terrain guaranteed to squeeze out the last ounce of strength left in any runner’s reserves…
And so it goes that yours truly having heard all the horror stories about it, and being an intrepid Swara to boot, didn’t need much encouragement to give it a go this year. And he wasn’t alone judging from the response to the sign-up call from Susan earlier in the week that ensured that there were many yellow (mostly) and pink-shirted Swaras to add colour to the event.
What happened on August 29th 2015 in the simmering hot weather in the hills of Kajiado is something that has taken me one whole week to comprehend and attempt to explain. When the Kajiado run came up, there was little talk on how tough it was. Probably I might have listened to those who talked about how scenic it was than how tough it would be. What follows is my ordeal in Kajiado while attempting to run 30km which changed to 20km.
ACCOUNT OF THE ‘Run2Gether’ RUN – KIJABE
Why our Chairman is like a prophet
The Man had set his phone to beep at 5.45 am, heeding the Chairman’s warning to leave early as the road to Kijabe was likely to be covered in fog. But it was not until 6:30 am that he managed to drag himself out of bed, another sign of his gradual slide to sloppiness, a process that had began three months back.
So it was a mad dash to throw in assorted running kit into the car, grab some sugar water (another recommendation by the Chairman, more on this later) and drive off.
Happy New Year. As it came to the end of the year 2014, I decided to go and run at the Ngong Hills. I had planned to go with Lucy the previous night, but when I woke up at 5.45am from Athi River and started the journey to Nairobi County, I didn’t check my phone. Little did I realize that Lucy had send me a message to inform me she couldn’t make it to Ngong for the run. At that point, I decided to proceed to Ngong and run by myself, after all this is the place that I ran every Saturday from 2005 to 2007 without fail with other Swaras e.g. Wahome, Wanjohi, Loice Mbogo, Nancy Kinyua, Shiku, Mutua, later on joined by Ajaa, Jael, Lucy, Mercy, Nadine and UNEP team etc.