By: Justin Lagat
Last weekend, I was proud to have been part of the action to mitigate the effects of climate change, by participating in a local marathon in Eldoret, Kenya; the “City of Champions.” The theme of the Eldoret City Marathon (Run for Climate Change) could not have been at a better time than during this season in Kenya, when the onset of the rainy season has delayed by almost two months. Everyone is afraid of the effects that may come from the continuing drought situation in the country.
The evening before the marathon, the search for green vegetables led me to meet up with an athlete who lived several kilometers away from where we do. We made arrangements to travel together to the race in the following morning, as we had to arrive in town before 6 AM to catch the buses to the start line.
Check in for everyone is the night before. This includes fixing your bib number to your racing kit, racing shoes tied, having a change of clothes in your backpack, a banana for breakfast, and everything else sorted. At 4 AM, we were already up and heading out. It is amazing what a community willing to support an event can do. With a minimal registration fee, the Eldoret City Marathon offered free bus transportation for the marathon participants from town to the starting point which was about 7km away, enough rehydration along the course, enough volunteers and medical staff. This was bound to happen given that there were more than thirty local companies joining in to sponsor the event. As soon as our bus was full, we proceeded to the start line. The long-awaited day was finally here. In no time we were already assembled at the starting point waiting, the 20 long minutes again, for the starting gun to go off. Finally, we were off.
In competitive races in other parts of the wolrd, a pack of elite athletes would begin to break away from the rest followed by a chasing pack going at a different pace according to different projected finish times. Here in Kenya, over 700 runners in the men’s race are all elite athletes. There were those who had other races coming up and others who wanted to use the race for their threshold runs along with those who wanted to appear on live media.
Even with the organizers doing their best and staging such a well-organized race, the weather had other plans. It was hot and sunny. Less than 10km into the race, some runners were already becoming casualties of the warm weather. After the race, I spoke with one runner who had vomited just after the 10km point and pulled out. Less than half of the runners who started this race finish. Just after the halfway point, I already saw and felt that it was not going to end well for me as well. I quickly weighed the options of getting out and saving my body for another opportunity that may present itself for me to run in good weather and made the decision to drop out of the race. We have just one body to take care of, but many more races and opportunities will come.