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Monday, November 30, 2009

Nyeri Half Marathon-Nyeri Town, Kenya

Only days after finally returning to her home outside of Nairobi, Catherine was off to her hometown of Nyeri with her husband, Anthony, and daughter, Jane to stand at the helm of the Nyeri Half Marathon. This is one race that she does not "run" as in compete; she "runs" it as in organizes the race with Anthony. This was the 13th year for the race and the event is held each year in the town near the village where she grew up and gives opportunity to runners that Catherine herself did not have when she was a young girl. It is a place where athletes can showcase their talents and possibly be noticed by one of the three organizations that employ athletes; the Prisons, Police and Armed Forces.

The race, however, is not limited to just locals, and athletes from all over come to participate.
Nyeri is located in the small Central Province of Kenya approximately 2 hours north of Nairobi. The course this year was more difficult than in past years and had more hills but despite the change, there were new course records set for both the men and women.  Ernest Kebenei (photo) won the men's race in 1:01:31 and he hails from Uasin Gishu district, which is the Rift Valley Province where Eldoret is the district capital and the training home to many elite runners. It is in Western Kenya. Gladys Kerubo, the women's winner with the course record of 1:11:44, is from Kisii which is the district capital of the Nyanza Province in Southwestern Kenya. (Here is a good map of the Kenyan provinces map)

Catherine mentioned that two boys she sponsors, Paul (her nephew) and John, did very well. She helps them with their training in Ngong and also provides them with uniforms. The boys ran 1:05 and 1:15 for the half marathon distance. Catherine's brother, Samuel ran the race in support of Catherine but he did not finish as it was not part of his training schedule at the time.

I sent a Kenyan crew to film Catherine and Anthony out among the locals to capture them in action and see how they interact with the villagers and athletes, and I can't wait to see the footage! When I spoke to Catherine, she said the event went very well however she was disappointed that the Vice President, who was scheduled to be their special guest, had to cancel and did not send an official in his place. I have found that this is a common occurrence with Kenyan officials; they are often canceling appearances and sometimes send a replacement but other times do not.

When I spoke to Catherine today, she was back in her home outside of Nairobi and is looking forward to time at home with her family which includes nieces, nephews and siblings. Her sister, Esther, also just had a baby girl named Maryanne and I know Catherine will enjoy helping out with her newest niece as well!

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