The Alliance Classic Run (‘ACR’) is a charity run (there is a walk option) dedicated to raising funds for the Alliance High School Endowment Fund Trust. The trust mobilises financial resources to fund bursaries for the needy students who are admitted to the Alliance High School and to fund infrastructure maintenance and expansion.
Some AHS old boys I know – the Busherian Mountaineers Group also had a similar initiative where they summitted 2 great peaks i.e Lenana point (4,987), Mt. Kenya and Uhuru peak (5,895),Mt. Kilimanjaro. From this they raised over KShs 1.8m which went into the fund. This fund is dear to them as it will help students at AHS avoid some of the challenges brought about by lack of fees that the old boys suffered during their days in AHS. Exploring these summits is where I met these amazing souls. The hiking trails, the times where you question your sanity at the most difficult paths to summits, at the running trails where I am a student and they are all my teachers, motivators and mentors (in someway) all these led to friendship.
Hence, when friends are part of an inauguration you have no choice but to support in whatever small way you can. This was the ACR on 19th May, 2018. The first of many to come. This was the first run out of Nairobi that I actually drove myself to. With no sense of direction I was bound to get lost. Yes, even if it was a straight line,I would probably get lost. With that said I missed a turn causing a 15 minute delay. Got to the school and everyone had their bib numbers and t-shirts all ready to start. However, the few speeches that took place prior to the run are what saved me.
Got back in time for the stretches which were led by one of the elite runners of the day. After the prayer we were flagged off. The run started with a slight hill which led us out of the school on a tarmac road. This led to the main road where vehicles and matatus (the most common means of transport in Kenya. They are known to be very notorious on the roads)with some of them refusing to completely give way. This didn’t stop us from running but for us,it was a really good excuse to slow our pace.
The flagoff – pic from the organisers
The trail was amazing with different terrains. From the full tarmac mainroad to narrow strips of the Kikuyu town (where one of my favourite restaurant sits. Almost just called the run quits and enjoyed a meal but my medal hunting mentality wouldn’t let me). This road led to the market place and down to the southern bypass. As we run the town folk would look at us and you could see all these questions written on their faces. Others were kind enough to cheer you on while others just gave you the strange stares. The roads were clearly and well marked so was no way you would get lost. Where there was some confusion, you would find marshals who would direct you accordingly.
After the bypass we ran through an estate of sorts where different activities were going on with people going about their daily businesses. The kids were out and about playing with toys that they had made themselves,a sight you hardly see in the surbabs. A few boys that caught my attention were actually sewing their homemade torn ball. This took my back to when I was a kid myself and we would make our own balls.However, I didn’t have much time to dwell on that as an unwelcome hill was announcing its presence. The hill was a start of yet another terrain. By this time I was so beat and tired due to the cold and cough I was trying to run out with no success. As I was walking and catching my breath one of the curious on lookers just stopped and offered me sugar cane. I love sugarcane and was tempted to accept but kindly declined. He then asked with such concern like it was troubling him, ‘ madam sasa nyinyi wote mnakimbia ni mastude ama pia teachers wanakimbia’ . This is swahili slang for are both teachers and student running.I smiled and answered ni wote meaning all including friends of the school. Then he asked if he could run and I said yes just to check with the school for more details.
As I continued I came to farms and yes it was another terrain. This would be the last on the new unfamiliar terrains as the others had already said hi. The uphills were no joke but the downs brought some excitement and were sure to increase the pace. Finally it was over. The hardest 20km I had done so far. I wasn’t quit sure if it was the mix of terrains or the cough either way I finished,personal best or not.
I then had time to catch up with the old boys I was supporting then left for Nairobi to prep for run number 2 of the weekend – the Lukenya Trail Run the next day. Yep, you got it right 2 marathons back to back.