Almost a decade ago, I asked Gynn to write down for me a list of ‘30 Things To Do Before I Turn 30’. It was a rather hilariously serious list and considering she was barely 20, she seemed too precocious for life.
There were things like ‘Be a Best Man At A Wedding’, which I easily accomplished, but the one that still remained undone by the time I hit the Big Three Oh was ‘Run a Full Marathon’. But like a wise man once said, better late than never.
So it was with this in mind and with a little prompting and betting with a secretary at Workland that I decided to stop talking the talk and instead walk the walk or run the run if you prefer. Turning up is the first step to running a marathon and I duly turned up without a shred of preparation. Frankly, I thought I should save all my running for the main race.
With hindsight, I guess those who had fasts hoping they would go fast, may change to having speed hoping for speed.
As I took my bag to the Luggage Centre, I noticed some so called Elite Athletes were not wearing socks. They also had on what they called running shoes. I prefer shoes that I can put on my shoe rack without worrying where I would next find them.
I went over to the starting point and in true Kenyan fashion, the Minister for Sports was giving a speech before the race could begin.
Speaking of fashion, as I warmed up, I caught sight of a girl taking out her make up kit and mirror and applying some lip stick just before the race. That one wants to look good for the paramedics when they pick her up, I thought and smiled to myself.
Soon after the wheelchair race began, the Full Marathon, yes, 42 kilometre race was next up. I tried to think of a million reasons to pull out of the race as I know that a stitch in time saves nine but even I couldn’t simulate a stitch.
The gun went off sending the multitudes sprinting towards the finish line. Only… the finish line was 42 kilometres away.
One kilometre down, we had already approached Heart Break Hill. I had taken fancy to running behind some lady wearing a red thong and whose gyrations as she ran were quite inspirational. Talk about having a pace setter.
Soon I needed a pace maker! The red thong lady, at the two kilometre mark sauntered off the track to take a seat on the new benches placed along the Nairobi Streets. As I passed her, I heard her call out to a passing vendor. ‘Ice Cream!’ she shrieked.
I abandoned that strategy and realized that I was better off really just trying to finish ahead of the secretary. Unless you are in contention for the prize money of Kshs. 1.5 million.
I noticed there were no pubs along the route. That was punishing.
But not as punishing as seeing an old grey haired man zoom past me. That one must have been trying up ‘70 Things To Do Before I Turn 70’. Or was it before he turns … to the grave, old geezer?
I have never run the Full Marathon before. And it showed. I had no rhythm. I sprinted for some periods, then walked until those slow joggers I passed caught up with me during my walk and I had to sprint away again. I had another hobby of picking up water bottles quicker than Brangelina adopting kids.
And when I saw a Red Cross tent with beautiful attendants, I slumped in for a quick massage of my limbs. My happiness was jolted when some guy else limped in and asked if the tent was a pit stop and the beauty massaging me asked: What is a pit stop? Pitiful.
I went back to the road, soaked in the drizzle and dragging my shoes on the hard tarmac, I finished the race in 3 hours and 11 Minutes. Certainly the most torturous 3 hours and 10 minutes of my life yet. You know me, I just had to exempt that red thong minute.
When my sporting history is written, I may not have been a Maradona but I sure was a Marathoner!