Justin Lagat writes this piece on the current local road racing season in Kenya, which goes from September to December. A nice break from the track and road travel around the world that many Kenyans do or aspire to do. Justin Lagat also hosts a website, Kenyanathlete.com.
Justin just finished covering the World Champs for us, providing a view from Kenya during that time. With all of Kenya’s successes, from Nicholas Bett to Julius Yego to Vivian Cheriuyut, Justin was quite busy with up to three columns in a day!
Pauline Korikwiang, Cinque XC 2008, photo by PhotoRun.net
A season to reap for Kenyan runners in the local road running competitions
There is a great similarity between running and farming in Kenya, especially in the Rift Valley region.
Despite the fact that there are a few races, like the Kericho Tea Marathon and the Safaricom Lewa Marathon, that happen locally here in Kenya before September, Kenyan athletes actually consider the season starting from September through to December as a road race season. Many local athletes program their training in order to be in their best form when this season finally approaches. Also, athletes who may have tried their luck to make the Kenyan team to the major competitions in track in July and August usually shift their focus to the road races. Great examples are Pauline Korikwang who finished 8th and Mathew Kisorio who also ran but failed to finish in the 10,000m events during the Kenyan trials to select the team to the world championships. Both having failed to make the team went and focused on the road race seaso,n and the two finally emerged as the winners of the UAP Ndakaini half marathon last week, a race that marked the beginning of a series of many road races to take place in the coming days.
In January, as farmers begin clearing their farms to grow maize, wheat and other crops, most runners are also getting back to re-starting their training after the Christmas and New Year celebrations. As runners train in this month which usually has some of the hottest weather conditions in the year, they run past fields of ploughed farms waiting to be planted. In March, the runners run past farmers planting crops in their fields. Then from May, almost everywhere turns green and runners run past fields of maize and wheat plantations.
From September, when farmers start harvesting their crops and selling their produce, many local road races also begin to take place in Kenya and some athletes too begin cashing some money out of their hard training. October and November are usually the months with the greatest number of races with up to four races across the country happening some times on a single day. On 4thOctober for example, there will be three half marathons; the Family Bank half marathon in Eldoret, the Peter Mulei half marathon in Machakos and the Laikipia University half marathon in Laikipia. There is also a cross country event on the same day, the Tom O’omuombo Memorial cross country in Siaya, and I am not ruling out the possibility of another event which I haven’t gotten information about also happening on the same day.
Mathew Kisorio and Pauline Korikwang are some of the athletes who have already begun reaping the fruits of their hard work. However, the greatest wins are yet to happen during the Nairobi Marathon that is going to happen next month on 25th and in the Kass International Marathon that will happen in November.
Some more races will continue to happen until late December when both farmers and runners head back to the New Year celebrations and wait to start all over again in January.