You could hear them even before they came into view. Had this been the Mara, you would have expected to see a herd of wildebeest or buffalo, but the setting was the 2020 edition of the Beyond Zero Marathon in Nairobi. And the thunderous noise that broke the unusual silence on the Nairobi streets early this Sunday morning was generated by well over 100 elite and amateur runners just fresh off the starting line, feet pounding determinedly on the tarmac.
Among the challengers in the 21km race were four members of our Angama family – Robert, Joel, Tunai and Saitoti. They had arrived in Nairobi two days prior and had spent the evening before race day getting in one final training session under the supervision of running team coordinator and Angama Executive Chef, Collins. I tried to get them to smile during a group photo and their response was that they were warriors and warriors don't smile - they mean business! They were already in "race mode" and intended to stay that way.
The weather in Nairobi had been finicky, with extreme heat interspersed with sudden, unexpected rainfall, but on race day, it remained perfectly cool throughout. A light early morning drizzle had even helped to settle the city’s dust. The air was still and calm but there was tension too, especially as the countdown started and the runners finally got the signal to go. The tension soon lifted as a pair of runners - donning capes - ran by while blasting ‘Eye of the Tiger’ from a portable speaker.
As the 21km runners began to hit their stride, participants in the 10km race had the chance to warm up with a spontaneous dance as they waited for their turn at the starting line. The vibe from this group was far more relaxed – no one here was "in it to win it". It was more about fun with friends and family and the opportunity for selfies… lots of selfies.
It was exhilarating to watch such a diverse mix of people from different walks of life, varying levels of fitness, some with disabilities, young and old – take on such an incredible challenge for a wonderful cause. Though initially started as a fundraising platform to help mitigate maternal deaths, the scope of The Beyond Zero Initiative over the last five years since its inception has grown to include researching ways to combat child mortality, improved child nutrition, and early cancer screening, among others.
The Angama Running Club did us proud, with everyone finishing well within the respectable two-hour window. One phenomenal feat down and plenty more to come.
Filed under: Inside Angama
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