Six missed calls (a friend was calling for directions to my house – to go for the run together), two texts and an hour later as per the set alarm clock time I finally woke up, feeling like an overworked donkey. I was super exhausted from my run the previous week and the ‘recovery’ massage had not made things any better. I could still feel my pressure points scream as I moved. It was a run day and that night I had barely slept as my stomach gave me a head start on the run. Nevertheless, I still had to clock in those kilometers. Plus my friend would never forgive me, if she missed her 1st 10kms run.
We made it to the start line way earlier than I thought. It was actually my first time to be that far ahead. There is just some excitement that comes with it. You get to see how pros prep themselves just before the run; the meditations, the gear prep, the good lucks and prayers. The energy there was also different- focused, determined and promising. The 21km elites were flagged off by Margret Kenyatta, the Kenyan First Lady. This marathon was her initiative as she wanted to prevent maternal and child deaths in Kenya by introducing fully equipped mobile clinics to the hard to reach areas in the country. 2019 was the fourth edition of the run after taking a break. The break was to make the run better (or so I thought) hence I eagerly awaited not knowing, it would be my last.
It was my second medal of the year and I was determined to get it even if I would crawl. We started at Nyayo Stadium with Hon. William Ruto the Deputy President as one of the runners. The road led to Uhuru Park and up towards Museum Hill. The routes were well marked, with people to direct you. There were ambulances following. As we were approaching Kenyatta Avenue from Museum Hill, you could see the number of security personnel manning the place. The water points were also very impressive; you would think people were drinking the water from a hose pipe as there was hardly any litter around. It was among the cleanest times I have seen Nairobi. As I headed down Bunyala Road, the 10kms elites passed me as they fought for the 100,000KES price. I cheered them on as I pushed myself hoping that this was my last two kms. I was directed to Mombasa Road. My heart broke as Strava had only recorded 12 kms. My stomach started complaining, threatening to run faster than the previous night. I was almost in tears, no mobile toilets around or even a bush. Why don’t marathons have mobile loos?
The walk down from Bellevue to Nyayo Stadium was torturous as I pep talked my tummy to be kind to me. The thought of a medal kept me going. After 20 minutes of being misdirected to the 21km finishing point, I walked my last kilometer unbothered. The stadium wasn’t as enthusiastic – no cheering, no music, it was just dead.
‘All the medals are over. We will call you to when we receive them,’ a rude, unapologetic staff uttered.
‘Should we leave our contacts?’ a sober minded runner asked.
‘Hapana nimesema tutawaita,’ the staff continued.
‘How will you know us? Wewe… aje? Mshicana usitucheze,’ came from the crowd.
I was too tired and disappointed to sit through any more of that. The crowd was slowly growing violent. Would you blame them? This wasn’t the first time it was happening with the FLHM. It was unacceptable and super disappointing. They had really started on a good note but I guess people will always remember the ending.
After lots of complaints through official channels and social media, the FLHM organizers advised those who missed medals to go to their International Life House office in Nairobi CBD, to collect one. Although it was super inconveniencing, I went to get my medal. It was well deserved. It was a sign of my determination and endurance. Sadly, that was my last FLHM medal. FLHM is a wrap – done and dusted.
Video By: James Kabuthi
Photo By: FLHM