Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Day at the Nairobi Marathon

6:35am: Leave the house so that I make it to the starting line before the races kick off at 7am. I was tempted to sleep in a bit since a lot of events run on “African time” which means they don’t always start precisely on schedule, but I decide to err on the side of caution.

6:55am: After a half-hearted attempt to walk (only about 2 miles), I instead opt for a bus that cuts a mile off my commute. The starting area is full of runners warming up although I can’t say I recognize anyone. My efforts to meet up with a coach I know is fruitless since the music blaring from strategically placed loudspeakers disorients me.

7:15am: The half marathon kicks off and it ain’t pretty! There’s so much pushing and jostling behind the starting line that the security guards form a human fence to hold back the surging crowd.

Unfortunately, the security guards remain there when the starting gun goes off! It was almost comical as one security guard was sprinting for his life to get ahead of the runners so that he could get off the course and out of danger!

7:25am: The full marathon gets off and running. Same chaos at the starting line as the half. But we hope that the top runners get off to a clear start although a few runners fall to the ground but luckily avoid being stampeded.

7:35am: I recognize and confront former Marathon World Champion Douglas Wakiihuri (also got silver at the Olympics and won the London and NY marathons). He's a musician as well as an accomplished runner and let me take this picture of him. I hope to get an interview with him in the next few weeks as he's still incredibly active in the Kenyan running scene.

8:17am: The first runner crosses the line in the half marathon. Peter Kurui (only 18 years old) finishes the 21 km in 1:02:23 about 11 seconds in front of Kiplagat who placed 2nd.

8:25am: Catherine Tuwei takes the women’s race in 1:11:07. She’s more than a minute ahead of her nearest competitor.

9:18am: A new course record is set with Samson Kikwei Tuiyange collecting $20k with his 2:10:30 victory in the Nairobi Marathon. This is almost a 5 minute improvement over the old course record but it should be noted that the course has been changed from previous editions. The picture below is of the winner 100m before the finish:

10:34am: I’m still unable to find my friend so I decide to take the long walk back to my house and daydream about running a sub 2:30 in next year’s marathon (Editors note: author has never run anything close to a marathon and should dream about finishing one first before mentioning sub-anything).

11:02am: My legs surprisingly tired from the 2 mile walk, I take my morning tea (this is Kenya!) and plan on stepping up my mileage for next week.

1 comment:

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