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Eldoret City Marathon, where my wife cried on the 22nd of April 2018

April 30, 2023
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My wife and I at the Eldoret City Marathon

As I waited for my wife at the end of the finish chute of the 2018 Eldoret City Marathon, where the officials had pushed me to stand so that I would not cause more jam at the finish line, I had mixed feelings. I was almost certain that my wife would be furious with me once she crossed the finish line since I had not believed in her when she told me she was going to finish the marathon.  

And so, as I stood there, I saw two members of the medical staff carrying my wife towards the first aid tent. She looked so weak, and I thought it was safe for me to approach her. I approached them and patted her on the shoulder. I asked how she felt and whether she was able to finish the race.

She didn’t reply. Instead, she grabbed and held me tightly as she cried on my shoulder. The medical staff helped me take her to the tent, where we placed her on the table, put some ice on her paining legs and did some more first aid on her before I led her away.

My wife begins her training for Eldoret City Marathon

About one and a half years ago, my wife told me that she was interested in running as a hobby. This was great news to me. It meant that she would now at least understand everything about running and, more importantly, why I would “waste my time” every day going for the runs.

However, it was not possible for me to take her for my usual morning runs, and I would go for my runs in the morning and then take her later for about 30 minutes of jogging and walking. Her fastest pace was about 11 minutes per kilometre.

But, within a few months, my wife was able to run up to 14 – 15 kilometres nonstop and slowly started to incorporate speed and hill workouts. In her first race, which was 10km, she finished it in 40 minutes. In no time at all, she was able to finish 6th at the central rift championships in the 5000m event,  run 17:30 to finish 11th at the Ziwa Farmers 5km, then 37 minutes to finish 15th at the Rift Valley marathon, etc.

My wife training for Eldoret City Marathon

This gave her a lot of motivation to come to the Eldoret City Marathon with only one aim; “I want to know if it is possible for me to finish a marathon,” she had told me when the Eldoret City marathon was announced sometime last month, offering the perfect opportunity for her to try the distance. I was against the idea since I knew how brutal the marathon was, and especially for someone who had just started running. But, they say that When a child cries for a razor blade, give it to them, and when they cut themselves, they will understand that it is not good for them to play with it.

The day of the Marathon

The day of the marathon finally arrived, and we were already awake by 5 in the morning. It had been announced that runners should find their own means to get to the starting line by 6, which was about 22 kilometres away from Eldoret town. We first had to reach the town before connecting to other public service vehicles to take us to the starting point. Fortunately, some schools had volunteered to provide some buses to ferry the athletes for free, and we got lucky to get in the Moi Girls bus to head to the start line…..

Travelling by bus to the start line was good in that we had the chance to analyze to route that we would be using to run the first 20km. It was frightening at the same time as we noticed it was taking long for the bus to reach the starting point, yet that would just be less than half the distance we would be covering while running.

By 6:30 am, we were already at the starting point. There was a sea of athletes warming up, and it was turning out to be a bigger race than we had imagined it would be, being an inaugural one. The villagers had turned out in large numbers to witness the race, and more were brought by the arrival of not just one, but two choppers. There was a heavy presence of security personnel on the ground and we understood why when the deputy president himself showed up and began warming up as well with other senior government officials.

The women were called to assemble at the starting line, so I left my wife to quickly change as I continued to jog. A short speech and the women were off. Thirty minutes later and it was our turn. Things were happening much faster, I felt I needed some more time for a short call, but the gun was already pointed at the sky, then off we went.

I was happy to go at a relaxed pace as I had planned the race to be a normal long run for me, and it was amazing to see the sea of athletes ahead of me already opening up a long stretch on the road with the red light of the clock that was mounted on the lead car marking the end of the stretch at the front.

Soon, after the first one and half kilometres, I started overtaking some athletes who had gone too fast at the beginning. It was a great feeling. Some would stick with me for a while before they would let me pass them.

The course was a net uphill from the start up to about 18km, and I was glad to have not been able to hear my watch peeping, which meant I was safely within the range of 3:25/km pace that I had set.

After a slight downhill towards the town, we soon joined the highway going into the opposite direction as the leading ladies when they crossed the 30km mark. I met my wife around there for the first time and we gave each other thumbs up. She looked OK.

The journey became tougher at the 29km mark as we slowly climbed the slope back to town. By 30km, it began feeling like a really tough race as many athletes began dropping out. We were beginning another climb out of town again, which was both challenging physically and psychologically.

I was able to hold my pace to a decent speed, but it was no longer an easy task as thoughts of dropping started to grip in. But, at around the 37km, we reached the end of the hill and it was now a relatively flatter course back to town.

That was the point I learnt that I was going to finish the race. I saw my wife at a distance ahead of me. An ambulance was slowly following her and I knew she must have been getting tempted to get into it, so I quickened my steps a little, hoping to get to her before she could stop.

Seeing my wife 2km to the finish line

Luckily for me, the ambulance stopped and I was able to reach my wife first, slowed down a little and I told her she only had slightly over 2km to finish her first marathon and to just keep going at her own pace. I told her I would be waiting at the finish line and proceeded ahead.

Training in Eldoret

After the 41km mark, a lot of people started lining the street as I neared the finish line; some were calling out my name. I could recognize others but was too tired to keep looking around as the last few hundred meters seemed quite endless. I increased my pace a little as I saw the finish line with 195 meters to go. With excitement, I finally crossed the finish line of another marathon!

I wanted to stop just at the finish line to wait for my wife, but more athletes were coming in, and the officials needed to clear the finish line for the medical staff and to be able to give out the positions to the coming athletes. So, I went ahead out of the finish area and waited at the end of the finishing chute. It was taking slightly longer than I had expected her to arrive, and I was beginning to get worried.

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