I innocently woke up today to run a last long run and come back shower and mind my business as I always do (except for those days I am asking Kossy and Rose if they have lefted the group). I drive to PSC I find Kagwe,his crazy friend and Mburu waiting. I park, move water and stuff from my old Car to Kagwe’s slightly new car for the run. We get in and drive to Uhuru park . We reach there and find two guys already there looking easy like they do this every day.They are friends with that guy I hear who ran bare feet for 50K . We say Hi’s and murmur our names and and add the usual pleasure to meet you , I mean what pleasure is it really to meet guys who look ready to run to Naivasha at 5.30 in the Morning at Uhuru park that place that gave the country Miguna Miguna. ?
We seem out of place for two reasons ,firstly we came in a car and parked it there , secondly we seem out of place .We had not been properly briefed about dress code and about use of automobile during Ulta -runs .
In my mind I am thinking I am not boarding.An Uber comes makes a stop and a brother of overseas domicile alights with energy and confidence straight to the other guys no murmurs this time , laughter and jokes ,these guys don’t speak “small small “they just shout and end up scaring the visitors . Another Uber comes a lady comes out with two bottles one for water and another for isotonic . She dishes out hugs, but my two friends and I get a hand shake which is okay considering today is Saturday and I am SDA
Let’s go back to the dress code . Sorry before that, as I am still in my SDA state a short gentleman of SGR origin comes running in slippers he announces he has dhan faif Khay (I think he meant 5k) not sure. There’s some activity high fives . I hear them calling him wing chicken I don’t know. But he’s in slippers , the rest .. wa Kossy let me tell you. If you were not represented there today ,you don’t make running shoes .Nike ,ASICS , basics , they were all there
Our T shirts are lovely ,they are us you know these days people know us when they see us on the road . We are out there ,the three of us clearly out of place . The rest seem to be in sync they are all dropped in Ubber cars and quickly gel into their fellow ultra crew .In our group runs we show up in our nice T shirts and Mburu who incidentally was our support crew always does his thing together with bachelor the rider ensuring we have water all the way . It turns out this might have been a mistake . I heard that SGR guy make a joke about it. So we are there with our Runfit Ts and a car parked with a driver waiting to make our debut.
One curious thing though our new found friends came dressed for the run and had something over their shoulders with a small pipe protruding out . All of them had it . I did not know what it was , you see they don’t teach us everything in Law school contrary to what everyone in the world thinks .I ask Kagwe what it was he says he has no clue but it looks like kamithi.
Of great concern to me was the morphological features of all the participants of this event except me. Men and women whose bodies have wasted away not out of any sickness or lack of food, but due to an addiction… one of the few addictions that has a +ve effect to the body.
For sometime I pondered how I started this running thing.. what did I get myself into? I had lived for around 30 healthy years despite my weight. My body had responded well to food. I felt okay, was not sick, no life threatening healthy situations. Did I really have to?
The SGR descendant also made me see how simple the thing about running and shoes is. We have thought and discussed much about shoes.. the appropriate shoes and types.. the assumption that the more expensive the better, the designs, colors and yet here was a man running on slippers and not for a mean distance but 10s of kilometers. How now?? As we climbed back from Mai Mahiu.. I saw him running downhill and had to look at his feet. To confirm he still was on slippers… and yes he was.. He has ran with them not just upto Naivasha but Nakuru. So the next time you give an excuse not to wake up and run.. just remember the SGR descendant.
Speaking of kamithi- I think I might have heard that word before , could have been at Kitale or Eldoret bus stage ,those days we used to “fly “Eldoret express from Kitale to Nairobi or maybe I heard it in a room somewhere I am not sure …I digress ..
But the answer comming from Kagwe who grew up in Kandara I am sure he has one.
Another Uber shows up and a guy in a Swara regalia gets out he attracts quite some bit of attention. I remember I had seen him before at Kili early this year wakipelekana na Captain around the sugar plantations.They were already going up as Kama and I and were still shocked about the change of route.
The SGR guys seems excited and asks where is Vhikhtha I think he meant Victor but again am not sure ,he pulls out his phone and calls …some laughter here and there then he hangs up and shouts “ then minats to gho” . Ten minutes to go???
A white Nissan drives in and Mr Nawari comes out. I know him ..we meet around upper hill area during my morning runs. Finally there’s another car that is not an Uber and yes it is also running to Naivasha.
If it was about the number of T shirts , We lost to Swaras before we even began I mean a measly three against the rest ..! By now everyone had their Kamithi on and the guy took a roll call he seemed to know his people. We were not on the list .
He briefs us and says he’s sent the map on the Garmin and on the phones , Kagwe and Dan look blank despite looking rather nice in our club T shirts they don’t disappoint. Then the SGR guy says there are no markings on the road ,he’s got some humor though and if you don’t have the map please follow Vhikhta..he adds. I ask Chemonges which Victor that was and he says casually si Victor Miringu.
Back to the other guy, again Chemonges comes at the right time. He tells me his name is Mwasaru a Swara. I now understand the run at Kili . Captain was defending our name against that other running outfit with luminous T shirts . As I am processing this my oriental friend says. See you Naivasha and starts to run and the rest follow..and that is how ultras start. No ceremony , Their Rachel does not say a prayer (I doubt if they have Rachel to pray for them ). We start towards Ngong Road and the first Kilometer friends is the climb towards Nairobi club.
Kagwe , Dan and I just follow the rest . We have not run an ultra before and we have no clue what they do so we follow. The pace is lovely 6:10 and we are enjoying inspecting the works along Ngong Road. We pass Baptist, Coptic, Uchumi by the way the activity along that road at that time in the morning is massive unlike our quiet runs around Karen surbubs.
We must have been around the junction to the show ground when a guy honks loudly we look behind and see Swaras going to Alliance in massive SUVs. They had to stop and take photos of their brothers .From nowhere Victor just shows up in a purple kamithi. Seems they agreed with the SGR friend about the meeting point that he let’s us go first. Mwasaru and our oriental friend look genuinely happy to see him. Then this guy Mwasaru who has been running with us nicely in a good pace just shoots off and follows Victor . By now we are approaching the southern by pass.
That morning during briefing , the SGR guy forgot to mention the short runs . He only said that the map had been sent to the phones and in thegarmin. The same guy said Vhiktha had it on his garmin.And ” If you don’t have it you could follow him .” At that point the only lady around and that muscle guy from Swaras who always cuts his ndakaini and stanchart marathon T shirts and then wears them for runs bust out laughing.Then the girl says.. “You want us to collapse following Victor!” Apparently there’s somebody who gave Victor a chase and almost paid for it. This is the same guy SGR wanted us to follow so that we don’t get lost. And follow him we did .
When they left with Mwasaru they ran for about a K.Mburu our support guy had stopped a water point and behind him was Chemonges support car. By the way he had “planned himself “ the support crew “was easy on the eye” and all manner of snacks were in that car. Not water ,coke and isotonic! that was in Kagwe’s car.Mwasaru then removed his Kamithi and handed it to the support girl . We never saw him or Victor again .
The stretch from Daggoreti to Kikuyu has a climbing lane for trucks on the extreme left . My friend Kama knows it he has been there. The only bad thing about the ascends is that whether you ran it last week it will be steeper this week .I keep thinking just like Kahara there’s something that happens at night to those climbs . We reach Kikuyu but since the map was in Victors Garmin ,we had no any other otherwise . We thought Mburu had used the main road so we tried our luck .
Unknown to us Mburu had decided to follow the lady in a white Nissan.
We pass Sigona , no sign of Mburu then we pass Zambezi still no sign.
I have to digress again ,who was naming the places along Waiyaki Way ? There is a place called 87 and now Zambezi? Anyway by now our water is depleting. Wakili always runs with that thing that looks like a thong that can carry two water bottles and I guess a place to put tips but instead of tips he had a phone in there. .Friends Mpesa works
We get water from the petrol station and coke . We try to call Mburu through my phone , nothing. Dan sends SOS to captain nothing happens
The works along Waiyaki Way seem to be going well according to our inspection. As we are in the process of inspection a black Touareg stops ahead of us with hazard lights on lowers the windows and this beautiful lady all smiles says hello I think it is either the Runfit shirts or she knew Kagwe or Dan . She hoots and waves and drives off.I have been on that road many times but not on “shoe” .I discovered the junction to Limuru is not far as the cars make it look .
Just as we turned off to the road to Mai Mahiu, Mburu appears out of the woods. His reason for loosing us , they followed Victor and Mwasaru.Kagwe and Dan are not convinced. We start the descent down to Mai Mahiu . We pass that police post that tells tales of unfortunate accidents . We pass a group of our cousins on the side of the road waiting for bananas from kisii I think. My sister once suggested that they know the difference between the buses that carry bananas and those that carry fish .
There’s no sign of either Mwasaru or Victor, by this time we are approaching 40 km and Mburu is back in line . We keep going, we pass the first guys roasting maize . These guys are well organized one in the kitchen (the barrista)and the one selling. We keep going but by now Kagwe has retired at 40K as we approach the view point trucks roaring behind us. The stall owners say Wako hapo mbele tu I think in reference to the guys on pack 1 .We stop at the stalls , take photos and keep going.
At 50 Dan drops off. But he has achieved a personal record of 50K .
At around this time I am seeing Mai Mahiu and approaching the famous church . This is that place I have always passed driving or being driven. As I approach the junction to Narok I now know the fear of traffic at the escarpment climb is gone . If there’s traffic I know what to do in future .Get out of the car and run up .We reach Total Mai Mahiu, do stretches relax and make our journey back.As we start the climb back , we meet Michael and his support crew on the side of the road opposite the church. It is a nice place for a photo opp as we are taking photos Mike and his friend are taking oranges. Mikes friend (he has a Swara T-shirt on) asks the lady if they have salt. Sounds a bit odd but she says no .
As I am thinking whether I heard correctly Kagwe asks which salt , he might have thought it is one of those rehydration salts . The guy says normal salt.
Kagwe almost fainted!.