The MTN Marathon has been around a few years, and it’s getting to be serious regional event. Jana I ran the 21km. It was my second as I ran the Stanchart Nairobi Marathon last year. This time I’d prepared. I improved my finish time with 15 minutes. I’m sure I’ll do better with more practice for one, two or all (I kid you not) of Safaricom Lewa Marathon, Stanchart Nairobi Marathon or MTN Kampala Marathon next year. Needless to say, Kenyans outran Ugandans. And the Ugandans who really run are Sebeis from Kapchorwa and other places in the East. Really, the Kalenjins of Uganda.
What did I like?
-It turned out a good way to keep fit. I find it easier to exercise when I am working towards a goal than doing it kiundutho. My body doesn’t hurt like last time, too. That was funny. I hadn’t done any practice, and then realized I had to come start working in Kampala the following Monday. I hadn’t been to my Nyeri village in years. So what did I do? Go to my shags on Friday, get back to town on Saturday night, wake up Sunday morning and run (rather, mostly walk) the 21 km, come to Kampala in the evening, start my job the following day, asking the receptionist if I’m walking funny. My body hurt all week. None of that today.
-A good time for me and my few, mostly Kenyan, friends in Kampala. I like their sense of humour. Like when we were waiting for the marathon to start and wanted everyone within hearing distance to know that we are Kenyan. That meant we were there for the money, but thighs don’t lie. You can tell a Kalenjin, sorry, a serious runner by their legs. And then we started saying stuff like Eldoret having been a good place to practice, Mt. Kenya being higher altitude than Kampala, having finished only a few minutes behind Jelimo, Tergat during practice season. Talk of psychological warfare. Good thing is, no one knew that one of those who had registered for 21km decided to walk 10, calling it a change of strategy. Still, it was impressive for him to ‘finish’ 21 km among the 10km finishers. The numbers on our shirts were in different colours so you could tell who was running what distance. Not that he was among the first, say, 100 to ‘finish’ the 21km
-Better shoes, so my feet don’t hurt and none of my nails died this time.
-Better logistics. Last time I got into a matatu, and got off in the middle of town since a lot of the roads were closed. I was getting late, and had to run to Nyayo stadium before starting the marathon. I was exhausted by the time I got there. Jana I arranged for the cab guy to pick us up at 5:30am. 'Us' because my buddies drove and packed at my place. Turned out we all could have slept a little more, but no loss.
-It’s cheaper to register for the MTN Marathon at UGX 6,000 (about Ksh 240) or 5,000 if you use MTN MobileMoney. Stanchart Nairobi marathon was Ksh 1,000 (~UGX 25,000).
-I can be a feel-gooder at times, and it does feel good to know that my UGX 6,000 will somewhat help in the resettlement of the people of Northern Uganda. How? Simanyi.
-Food after finishing, thanks to a friend whose former company was represented. Dude came back from Nairobi to run the marathon. People have drive.
-The souvenir MTN-branded water bottle that reminds you of FIFA 2010. MTN is an official sponsor
-Those Chinese or Japanese guys and (maybe) Ugandan driver driving slowly among the runners on the last hill in Kololo in a new sleek Nissan Navara. I wondered if you paid to market it on an MTN event.
-Who said I can’t put that on my CV?
What I didn’t like
-The prize, only UGX 5m (~Ksh 200K) for the winners. Not that I was the winner, but that doesn’t compare with Ksh 1.5m for Stanchart Nairobi Marathon, or USD 125K for the Boston Marathon the last time I checked. It’s a start, though.
-I didn’t get a cert, or a finisher’s medal like last time. I only know my finishing time because I kept it myself.
-The whole thing was a bit jua kali. The loudspeakers were not audible down at the airstrip where most people were gathered. When you finished, you went into the packed field in the air-strip, gave back your chip, and then got the bottle. Where was proof that someone actually finished? I didn’t think that was the best use for the ChampionChip. Then there were the people hustling to steal bottles
-The guy who took our pictures and my number in the morning, promising to bring back prints by the time we got back. No word till now. Ssebo, get serious.
Overall, a great event, getting better each year.
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