A Kenyan Half-Marathon Adventure

Dearest KSP blog readers and fans (hi mom!),

Britt Eastman ’18 and Gabriella Gurney ’18 reporting to you LIVE from the KSP’s compound outside Nairobi with an exciting mini-blog update. On March 7 we had the distinct pleasure of running in the First Lady Half Marathon in Nairobi. This means we completed 13.1 miles IN A ROW on the equator… we’re not sure how that happened, either.

The race was a fundraiser for Beyond Zero, an initiative founded by Kenya’s first lady, Margaret Kenyatta, to reduce maternal and childhood mortality through prenatal health initiatives, newborn and child healthcare, and HIV treatment and prevention. It’s a super awesome organization and you can find out more about it here: www.beyondzero.or.ke/

We got up bright and early at 5 a.m. Sunday morning, managed to find an Uber driver (readily available since Saturday night was just ending for some people), and made our way to Nyayo Stadium, where the race was supposed to start at 6:30. We spent about 45 minutes trying to hunt down registration, where we could pick up our numbers and shirts (“t-shirt ni wapi?” — “t-shirts are where?”), and were completely unsuccessful. It turns out that packet pickup was the day before at Kenyatta International Conference Center, a vital detail not given on either the race website or in the confirmation email and which we ourselves failed to look into at all. Oops. Better luck next time, right?

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Us without our race numbers.

After accepting our fates of having paid registration and running without race numbers or getting our race t-shirts, we found ourselves at the starting line. Right before the wheelchair race went off at 6:30, we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of the First Lady of Kenya, herself, before she was surrounded by people. Here’s a picture of other people taking her picture:

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People photographing the First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta.

            After the wheelchair racers took off, we stepped up to the start line (well, as close as we could get to the start line because there were hundreds of people running the half marathon) and at exactly 7 a.m., WE WERE OFF!

Turns out running 13.1 miles is incredibly grueling and energy consuming.

But we made it! After crossing the finish line, we tried to look again for our race t-shirts (still no luck) and had an awesome breakfast at a restaurant across the street. We found another Uber driver and were on our way back to our urban homestays.image003

Running a race in Kenya was definitely an amazing experience. We were able to run through the streets of Nairobi and among Mombasa Road, which had been closed off to traffic early that morning. We ran past informal settlements, government buildings, and churches filled with people and bursting with music. The racers themselves were also very interesting. There were racers from all over the world (though they were primarily Kenyan) and of all kinds. There were professional athletes in racing jerseys, but there were also girls in ankle-length jean skirts and ballet flats running or walking the half marathon.

Running a half marathon in Kenya was an experience neither of us will forget!

-Ella & Britt

The finish line!

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