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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Catherine Ndereba talks about the Bupa Great South Run, her upcoming fall marathon and Ekiden in Japan

Today I spoke with Catherine from her training home in Norristown, PA  about the race she just returned from, the upcoming Yokohama Women's Marathon (November 15, 2009) and the 2009 Chiba International Ekiden (November 23, 2009)

Stefani: How did it go in Portsmouth? (at the Bupa Great South Run)
Catherine: Oh, it went great! It was tough though because of the wind; the wind was too much! I was like so much blown by it {laughs}. The first mile of the race and the last two miles, man, they were like, it was like climbing a hill, and I wasn’t climbing a hill!  Oh, my. By the time I was finished my shoulders were killing me because I was fighting the wind! {laughs} The rest of the days when we (she and manager, Lisa Buster) go there it was warm; warmer than here (Norristown, PA); Thursday, Friday, Saturday it rained, it wasn’t that windy but as it kept on raining it kept on getting windier and windier!
Even in the evening, after the race, when we tried to go out with Lisa around 4 or something, it was so windy I was telling her that I could go with my back looking front the wind was too much!

Stefani: So you were walking backwards?
Catherine: Yeah! It was that much windy!

Stefani: How do you respond when people ask why you didn't win; why you came in 5th?
Catherine: I ran a pace that was within my training schedule; I don't count it like I didn't do great. I am happy with myself and I just know that if it was a day with no wind in my face that I would have run within a good time bracket.

Stefani:  So you ran according to your training for the upcoming marathon.
Catherine: Yes, I started off and it was cold and I was wearing something underneath and I just needed to feel my way with the wind.

Stefani. So are you looking forward to Japan?
Catherine: I’m looking forward to Yokohama Marathon and to the Ekiden (2009 Chiba International Ekiden-November 23, 2009). The Ekiden is my favorite!

Stefani. Why is that?
Catherine: Because it’s FUN! It’s the only time you get to run a full marathon with other people!

Stefani. So you and your team members each run a leg of the race?
Catherine: Yes, It is a lot of fun!

S: The Yokohama Marathon it a Women’s marathon; is there a difference to you if you run a marathon with just women?

C: No, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter but I think running a marathon with just women is unique. I think this is my second marathon that is women only and all other ones are with men too. It’s good though because in doing so the women get all the coverage.

S:  Are you referring to the press truck and how many races only show the men’s race?
C: Yes. This is good for women.

S:  I noticed in Philadelphia that when you and a group broke away from a pack of women that there were a few men that hung around and almost boxed you in; do you feel that in a women’s only race when you break away from the pack that there may be less people running close to you?

C: No, I don’t think about that. As long as someone is not stepping on you, it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman!

S: How long will you be in Japan?
C: I’m going to be there I think for two weeks. I’m arriving on Tuesday the 10th and am not going home until the 24th.

S: Will Anthony (her husband) be there?
C: Anthony is arriving on the 13th.

S: Will he stay for the Ekiden?
C: No, it will be a very quick trip. He has school. He will miss Friday. He will leave on Thursday night and arrive on Friday and Monday he will leave again. I guess he’s gonna be in the air more than he’s gonna to be in Japan! {laughs}

S. You’re lucky you have such a good supporter!
C: Yes, I thank God for him!

S: Who else is going to Japan?
C: Lisa (Buster)and Mostafa (El Nechchaddi her coach)

S: When you get to Japan, how long will it take you to adjust to the time?
C: Uh, four days is enough. It takes me like a couple days. I don’t let it get to me too much. So when it’s like the morning there, I can make like it’s evening here when I go for my evening run..

S: So now that it’s getting colder here in Philadelphia, does it make you want to go home?

C: I can’t wait to get home! Today Linus (another Kenyan runner who trains in Norristown with Catherine) called me and he was home and I was feeling so happy for him that he was home and I was feeling like it was me that was back in Nairobi!

S: When is the last time you were home?
C: 9th of July. I feel like I’ve been here for a decade! {laughs}

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


People have been asking me for quite some time now if Catherine will be running a fall marathon and if so, where will she run. I can now officially announce that she will participate in the Yokohama Marathon on Sunday November 15, 2009.  Catherine has a great following in Japan, has always been successful and she enjoys running there.  She will be running against her friend and competitor Constantina Dita who took the gold medal to Catherine's silver in last year's Beijing Olympics. I only wish my budget would allow me to be there to watch but I will have to find a way to view online. If I find a link, I will certainly post it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chicago Updates

I'm sure it is obvious how much I loved Chicago but it wasn't just because of the beautiful city! I met great people and was able to get the key interviews that I was there for. It was not easy to nail down the first one but it was sure worth it!

Phil Hersh has been writing about sports and the Olympics for a long time and has followed Catherine's career for many years as well. His schedule is extremely busy, especially having just returned from covering the vote on choosing the location for the 2016 Olympics (where Chicago unfortunately did not win) but he fit us in after the elite athlete press conference for the Chicago Marathon on Friday. His insights on women in distance running and especially his explanation on how he formulates his lists that put Catherine at the number one position of all time female marathoners was very informative!

After the interview I went with Jon to the Health and Fitness Expo where he had a booth to promote his film Spirt of the Marathon. There were many vendors there and I wanted to look around for potential sponsors for the film. The Expo was held all day Friday and Saturday. There was a fair amount of traffic through but Deena Kastor was scheduled to sign autographs at Jon's booth and starting a half hour before, there was a very long line at his booth waiting for her! Many were purchasing a DVD to have signed and some already had a copy. Almost as big a celebrity as Deena was another star of Jon's film, Jerry Meyers who is a 70+ year old man who has completed at least 5 marathons; the first at age 65!
Deena Kastor signing authographs
Spirit of the Marathon stars Ryan & Colleen Bradley talking to Melissa Leggett at the Expo

I spent close to six hours at the Expo and afterwards felt as if I had run a marathon! It was exhausting, however, there were many vendors there and hopefully we'll find some interested parties to help out with the film!
these Injinji performance socks are awesome! They are SO comfy and are made for runners!
And how can you not like a line of clothing called RunGirlRun? These shirts rock!

On Saturday morning we met with Kathryn Switzer. She is an amazing woman who has been a pioneer in women's running since becoming the first woman to officially run in the Boston Marathon in 1967. She was instrumental in getting the women's marathon into the Olympics and she has known Catherine on a personal level for a long time as well. She was fantastic to interview because she has SO much information, is lively, animated, fun and I just loved hearing the personal stories about her and Catherine. This is what is at the heart of this film; many know about Catherine Ndereba's acheivments, but it is "off the field" so to speak that most people do not know her. It is the human and personal side that I want to show the world; not just the running machine that her body has become!

After spending a few hours with Kathryn and she had answered all of my questions, (many of which she even answered before I could ask!), I took an architectural tour via boat and got some beautiful Chicago b-roll! The buildings in this city are truly amazing! views from the boat

Gotta love lighthouses (shame it was so overcast and drizzly)
The race on Sunday morning was c-c-cold! I felt so bad for the runners out there but they seemed to block out the cold and use it in a positive way. Everyone seemed to have a great time running and besides being 33 degrees at the start, it was a gorgeous day! Jon and I scrambled to the finish area to capture the end of the race but since we weren't network we were stationed in a photo corral that didn't give us optimal position. However, I was not there to film the actual race so it was fine!
plenty of potassium for the runners!

After the winners' press conference we were able to talk with the second place winner, Irina Mikitenko. She has won quite a few major marathons in such a short period of time and like Catherine, she is a mother. She was very sweet and fortunately we had an interpreter.

After lunch, I was able to interview Deena Kastor, the top female distance runner in the United States right now. She is so lovely (as was her family who were all there with her) and was also very generous with her time! She has known Catherine for awhile and had some great stories to tell. I really believe that all of the interviews during Chicago will make this a better film!

view from the top of the Chicago Hilton; it was a glorious race day!

On Monday I took some time and went to the Sears Tower (now known as Willis Tower but everyone still refers to it as Sears!). It is amazing what went into the construction of this incredible structure and the view from the top is incredible.views from the top of Sears Tower

I'm sure it would have been even more spectacular if it had been a clear day but even with the clouds it was pretty awesome! After taking in the sights a friend picked me up, we had lunch in the suburbs and then he took me back to Ohare. I really did not want to leave so maybe it was meant to be that the flight was so over booked they needed people to volunteer to be bumped from the flight. I volunteered and got one last night in the windy city! Fortunately, I made it to my hotel in time to see the last part of the Phillies win their playoff game so all was good! That was just the icing on a very good trip!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Today I left gorgeous weather in Philadelphia and arrived in rainy Chicago. An old friend picked me up at the airport and gave me a ride to my hotel (okay, he's going to read this so I will clarify that HE is not old; I've just known him for quite awhile!) Let me first state that Catherine is NOT running the Chicago Marathon this year; I am here because there are 4 people that I want to interview and it was cost effective to be able to get all four in one city rather than have to travel to each individually. Also, Jon is in town promoting Spirit of the Marathon so I didn't have to fly him in to shoot either.

After checking in and grabbing lunch I set out to explore and scout locations to shoot the interviews. I've never been to Chicago before and I am really impressed with the city! Even in the rain it is beautiful! I started at my hotel and walked down to the Hilton which is where the media center for the race is. There are so many parks and so much greenery that it almost makes me feel like I'm not in a city.

It was really cool to see a busy city street right next to a marina and have the cars and boats almost look like they were right next to each other! But, reality soon set in because even though I walked around for several hours looking for the perfect location for one of my upcoming interviews, I wasn't able to find a spot where the constant buzz of city traffic wasn't overwhelming! I'll check out more locations tomorrow when it is light out again and hopefully the rain will end as well.

It is evident that the city is geared up for the marathon on Sunday; there are banners lining the race route and porta-potty's are quite abundant!