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Nairobi Diamond 10k and Running in Kenya


Report by Jamil Parapia: Holidays and Tusker Lager are never good preparation for a race. However, entering the Nairobi 10k and the opportunity to race a few miles from where my Dad grew up and amongst some of the fastest people on earth was an opportunity too good to miss. So along I went to Athletics Kenya headquarters to register, meeting some accomplished athletes in the process, many of whom struggle to raise funds to enter and travel to races. Take Daniel Kinyua for example, who ran the 2008 Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon in 2 hours 18 minutes and the 2000m+ above sea level Kericho Marathon in 2 hours 22 mins. He is struggling to find enough money to pay the entrance for the Mombasa marathon. Following registration Daniel walked me the two miles through Nairobi to meet the rest of my family at the museum. Over a lunch of ugali and tilapia he explained the difficulty in finding a running agent who can cover the transport costs of travelling to major races abroad. Anyway, as a thanks for escorting me safely through Nairobi, Dad and I made sure his Mombasa entry fee will be slightly easier to find.

Nairobi is situated at 1700m above sea level and give that I was stepping off the plane from Zanzibar in my Otley vest and heading straight to the race I thought I’d best start some training to acclimatise as best I could. I had about 10 days. Fortunately the hotel had a running machine. Unfortunately it also had a bar and I love Tusker Lager! Fortunately they have released a healthier brand which is only 4% known as Tusker Light. The treadmill was a good work out although intensely boring.

Florence Kiplagat crosses the finish line still wondering who Julian Mawson is.

The next training run was through Hells Gate National Park in the Rift Valley. At 1900m above sea level I decided to push hard. This was helped by the herds of buffalo a few metres from the road.   A lone Buffalo is the most feared animal in Kenya. It was an amazing run through the incredible scenery past herds of zebra, impala, gazelles and giraffe. I was told there are leopards and cheetah although I did not see any.

After 4 rest days in the Masai Mara (I can get favourable prices if any of you fancy going) it was back to Nairobi for two days of treadmill before dropping to sea level for our stay in Zanzibar. What a beautiful place to run. Everybody waving and yelling Jambo as you run past. I knew I would have limit myself to a strict holiday drinking diet of 1 Kilimanjaro lager and 2 glasses of red wine if I was going to compete with the locals in Nairobi.

So to race day. The flight was on time and the weather in Nairobi was coolish with a slight breeze but the altitude and smog was more of a concern. I decided to warm up in Uhuru park with what looked to be some elite athletes. After closer inspection virtually everyone looked like an elite athlete and I was fortunate to be kept company by Sally Bosioso the 1997 women’s world 10000m champion and David Nyandiri who would finish in 29.57. I had a brief chat with eventual race winner and current women’s half marathon world record holder Florence Kiplagat, but she hadn’t heard of Otley AC or Julian Mawson the inaugural Windermere marathon winner so I moved on. The race start was pretty chaotic, delayed by 30 minutes. I decided not to start on the start line for obvious reasons but the race was chip timed. After the gun fired Daniel Kinyua (see above) ushered me to run with him. Thanks but no thanks Dan, I didn’t feel a club record by a minute was in me. The race atmosphere was amazing with TV crews on every corner and I had by now stopped thinking about the prospect of Al Shabaab grenades being lobbed onto the road. I crossed the line in a gun time of 34.00.60 and finished 152nd out of about 500 men. The chip timing was not permitted by the government apparently but according to my watch it would have been around 33.55 so not much difference. The women raced separately. Being the fastest Mzungu (European) I attracted quite a bit of attention and was very fortunate to spend some time in the company of  Catherine Ndereba. Catherine has won the world championship twice for the marathon and held the previous world record of 2 hours 18 minutes before it was broken by Paul Radcliffe’s famous run in London. Daniel arranged for my Dad and I to be driven back to the hotel by Sammy Karanja winner of the Berlin 25k and who has a half marathon time PB of 1 hour 1 minute.

The men’s race winner was Amos Kiplimo in 27.42. The top 5 men all ran under 28 minutes and that’s without the Kipsangs and Mutais of this world. The vet 40 winner ran 28.13. Florence Kiplagat inspired by my Otley AC vest won the women’s race in 31.42. The top 3 women all ran under 32 mins. Aside from a Danish runner virtually all the runners were Kenyan…..including me!

1. Amos Kiplimo 27.42
2. Edwin Kiptoo 27.44
3. Vincent Yator 27.44
4. Leonard Kipkoech 27.45
5. Timothy Kiptoo 27.53
6. Frankline Keitany 28.04
7. Julius Kalekem 28.06
8. James Gitahi 28.10
152. Jamil Parapia 34.00

Women

1. Florence Kiplagat 31.42
2. Irene Chebet 31.45
3. Alice Aprot 31.46
4. Jackline Chepng’eno 32.24
5. Helah Kiprop 32.25
6. Beatrice Mutai 32.31
7. Doris Changeywo 32.36
8. Emily Chemtai 32.36

  1. #1 by Julian on August 20, 2014 - 10:04 pm

    JP, humbled by an unworthy name drop in your epic story of beer, wild animals and fast women – all happening at altitude too,impressive.You could have chosen an easier race for RoY points though?

  2. #2 by Richard Hamer on August 21, 2014 - 9:49 am

    Ha, ha, ha, you crack me up Jamil; Florence Kiplagat has never heard of Julian Awsome, sorry Mawson.!
    Oh, hang on; you’re being serious. Shame on that woman.

  3. #3 by Matt P on August 21, 2014 - 11:58 am

    Great write up – and a pretty fast race in classy company. No wonder we gave him Runner of the month.
    Matt

  4. #4 by Graham on August 21, 2014 - 2:46 pm

    Yeah, poor ROY choice Jamil!
    Sounds brilliant, really inspiring. It’s like asking the Man Utd team for a kick-about, or taking on Steven Hawking at space chess. Nice one.

  5. #5 by Julian on August 21, 2014 - 5:03 pm

    Ha to you too Richard, I assume that’s your editorial handiwork under the Kiplagat photograph? Tabloid journalism’s loss is OAC’s gain.

  6. #6 by Antonio Cardinale on August 21, 2014 - 8:47 pm

    I wish I was there as well , I could do with some training at 1700 above sea , maybe with with Julian M. so I could introduce this popular Otley AC’s runner to this Kiplagat woman and to all the kenyan runners . Your report from Nairobi is really good Jamil, and I enjoyed reading it , and your performance in this 10k race was solid indeed ,although I would have been a bit timid racing with all the world champions surrounding me. Well done Jamil.

  7. #7 by Stephen on August 22, 2014 - 7:00 pm

    Great write up of what sounds like a brilliant adventure. Cheers for that Jamil.

  8. #8 by Caron Ralph on August 23, 2014 - 9:35 am

    No mean fete that Jamil! With an awesome holiday on top! Well done

  9. #9 by reid haddow on August 26, 2014 - 1:57 pm

    brilliant report Jamil, i hope we all realize how priveleged to run , and not bothering about entry fees to races, and well done

  10. #10 by Hannah on August 26, 2014 - 3:05 pm

    well said Reid, makes you realise just how spoilt we all are.

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