Visit the Official WinCatherine Website

Friday, April 23, 2010

Prime Example of Catherine as a Role Model in Kenya

I wasn't really planning on a blog post today but I came across an article online that was discussing the drought for American men and women in winning the Boston Marathon. As I looked over the list, I noticed that there was not ONE female Kenyan winner before Catherine Ndereba's win in 2000. Since then, there have been three others besides Catherine's four wins: Margaret Okayo, Rita Jeptoo and Salina Kosgei. There were plenty of Kenyan MEN winning, going back to Ibrahim Hussein in 1988 but no Kenyan women. To me this just emphasises even more the role Catherine has played in influencing women in Kenya! 
You can view the list of previous winners here

Monday, April 19, 2010

Boston Marathon Race Day: April 19, 2010 Part Two

 view of the finish line of the 2010 Boston Marathon taken from The Lenox Hotel
Race day in Boston was amazing! From very early on there were people on Boylston Street milling around and making final preparations. We had many options for filming; the view from my room at the Lenox Hotel offered a prime spot facing the finish line, they also invited us to their rooftop party which had an incredible view of Boylston Street approaching the finish line and beyond and we also could get down on the street near the bleachers and shoot from there as well. We started the morning capturing the run Catherine did with Joan Benoit Samuelson. Our Boston DP, Russ Jaquith, followed them on his bicycle and filmed them during a light run along the Charles River. The footage looks amazing! They got back from their run just in time for the womens' start. Catherine watched the race with her friend Helen and Lisa in a lounge reserved for managers and coaches of the elite athletes. At 11:20 am a reporter from WBZ interviewed Catherine just beyond the finish line and asked her about her injury and missing the race. As usual, she was completely gracious and upbeat. 

Unfortunately, since we were working we did not get to see much of the race but what we did catch was exciting and we heard bits and pieces of the commentary. It was very exciting on all fronts and amazing to see Ernst Van Dyk win his 9th title in the men's wheelchair division, Robert Cheruiyot set the course record in the men's race and Teyba Erkesso hold on to a commanding lead to win the women's race. Being right there in the midst of all the commotion near the finish line was incredible and the atmosphere was electric! We went over to the Fairmont Copley and Catherine was with Helen in the lobby waiting for their friends to come in from the course. Salina Kosgei, last year's winner of the women's race, came in third and Catherine was there to greet and congratulate her as well as the other winners. Even though she hadn't run today, many people approached Catherine in the lobby and she greeted them all with warmth and signed autographs or posed for photos with anyone who asked. Lisa went off to greet Moses Kigen Kipgosgei, one of her other athletes who came in 8th in the men's race; he was having a lot of foot pain so they went to have the podiatrist look at it.  Catherine and Helen waited in the lobby. They were sitting on a sofa and Denise Robson's mother was right next to them when she learned that Denise had won the women's masters race! It was so awesome to watch the emotion well up and overtake her; the proud mama! I was glad to hear that Denise won; she was awesome!

Around 1pm we went back to The Lenox to film from the room and the roof and get some nice shots of people crossing the finish line.  
view from the roof of The Lenox Hotel
There was a big marathon party going on all day at the Lenox and the energy at the place was a lot of fun and made our job more fun too! 
Boston DP Russ Jaquith films from top of The Lenox Hotel
After getting some nice footage of the finish line we went back to the Fairmont Copley because there were still some interviews we wanted to do. I really wanted an interview with Joan Benoit Samuelson since she has actually been an inspiration to Catherine! I was finally able to grab a quick interview with her and that was really important to me especially since she had such a busy schedule all week! I also did a follow up interview with Jacqueline Gareau who was the official winner of the 1980 Boston Marathon and was only recognized after Rosie Ruiz was exposed as a fraud for jumping into the race with only one mile to go; another amazing lady at 57 years old who ran today on the 30th anniversary of her win!

We wrapped up late and headed over to the John Hancock post race party where the elite athletes, John Hancock employees and other race officials were. There were some nice speeches on behalf of John Hancock's 25th anniversary of sponsoring the Boston Marathon and all of the athletes were introduced. It was quite a gathering of impressive talent! Afterwards, the athletes were taken to a different party on the same floor; this was a party for all of the great volunteers who work so hard to help out with the marathon. The athletes were introduced one by one and a few of them spoke to the volunteers including the winners and American's Ryan Hall (4th) and Meb Keflezighi (5th) . I am always amazed when Catherine gives an impromptu speech; she always sounds so eloquent and thanked the sponsors, the BAA and especially all of the volunteers. Just having Catherine there and being asked to speak spoke volumes about her place in the history of the Boston Marathon. When that part was finished it was late and Lisa, Helen and Catherine wanted to get back to the hotel. It took about a half hour just to say goodbyes because people kept coming up and asking to have their photo taken with Catherine and she was all too happy to pose with them. 

Catherine poses for photos with fans at the John Hancock post race party

Helen grabs a photo with 4th place American Ryan Hall
By the time I got back to my hotel, I was exhausted; (I can't complain about how much my feet hurt because I didn't run the marathon so I won't!) I wanted to make sure I was packed before hitting the bed so I wouldn't have to get up extra early :) I was up at 7 in order finish packing and meet my college friend, Robin, for breakfast. It was fun to get to see her again!

I wanted to start my drive back to Philly between 11 and noon but was waiting to hear from Lisa first because with so many flights routing through London being canceled I knew there was a chance Catherine and Moses would need a ride back to Philly. Sure enough, the flight they were scheduled on back to Kenya was canceled. So, I ended up having company for the ride back! I do feel badly for them though; they were planning on heading home to Kenya. It was nice not driving alone though! We made great time and fortunately did not hit any traffic at all! We made the drive in just over 5 1/2 hours. As much as I love having Catherine here, I hope she is able to get a flight in the next day or two; Jane Murage (see previous blog entries or the trailer) is getting married on Saturday and Catherine is the maid of honor; I know she is extremely anxious to get back in time so as not to disappoint Jane.

Overall, the Boston week was an amazing experience! It was nice to meet many of the people I've spoken to on the phone or emailed with, I met athletes of all ages and abilities, saw some college friends I hadn't seen in years and got great material for WinCatherine! The Lenox Hotel made the experience even better; they were so accommodating, friendly and couldn't do enough for us. The people at John Hancock were also amazing and were extremely supportive! 

Now it is back to work in the office and time to do more fundraising; we need to get all this footage logged in but need to raise enough money to get it done! Please remind your friends and any companies you know that can help with donations or sponsorships and ask them to go to to contribute to this film! Thank you!

Boston Marathon Race Day: April 19, 2010

It is a gorgeous, sunny day in Boston for the marathon today! Catherine and Joan Benoit Samuelson arranged to meet early this morning in the lobby of the hotel to go for a run! If Catherine isn't able to run the marathon today, this is the perfect alternate; to capture her on an easy training run with one of her role models!  I'll hopefully have some photos to post in the near future!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Day Before Boston

artwork on display in celebration of the 2500th anniversary of the creation of "the marathon"
Today there was a lot of activity on Boylston Street as there were various races going on (for kids, past winners, BAA athletes) and it was great to get an idea of how things will look tomorrow. The weather has not been optimal; it has been rainy since Friday but we were fortunate that it was beautiful for the day at Hopkinton and it is supposed to be nice tomorrow! We headed over to the expo to film some of the crowds there and at one point saw SUN so we ran back to the Lenox, grabbed some gear and the car and headed out onto the course to get some shots; I wanted to get some footage of Heartbreak Hill and some Boston scenery.  When we got out there we found out that a race was in progress in Newton; it was an annual relay taking place where kids of all ages did a loop around Heartbreak Hill, then adults and the event wraps up with a family run/walk. We waited for the event to wrap up and then were able to get out and film the stretch known as Heartbreak Hill. 
statue of John Kelly at the start of Heartbreak Hill
The sun didn't last for long periods of time; it rained then the sun came out then it would rain again. At one point it even hailed! We were patient though and continued on to get some nice shots of the Boston landscape and skyline.
Russ took me to an amazing, "off the radar" spot and to shoot the Boston skyline and it eventually did clear up enough for us to get what we needed. We filmed until the sun was almost down and then we headed back.

When I arrived in Boston and got together with Helen and Catherine the first day, Helen asked me if I would polish Catherine's nails at some point and I promised I would. Last night after the Fenway Park event, I said I would do it Sunday night so I called Catherine to arrange it. Since Russ and I had just gotten back from shooting, we still needed to download all the footage and log it in so I invited Lisa, Catherine and Helen to come to my room at the Lenox and I would do nails! (Catherine and Helen were staying at the athletes village at the John Hancock Convention Center and Lisa was at the Fairmont Copley). The girls had their own nail polish but no nail polish remover and asked if I had any. That's not something I usually travel with but I remember reading some of the booklets in my room; you know, the ones the hotel has on the desk with menus etc.. I've seen hotels have a notice in the room stating if you've forgotten anything to contact the desk to see if they may have it but I'd never seen a notice like the one in my room here at the Lenox so it stood out in my mind. It had a huge list of items that people may forget or want and said if you need something to call the front desk. I figured what the heck; maybe they had some nail polish remover? I called down and sure enough, they said they'd send it right up! I offered to come down to get it but they insisted on having someone bring it up. It was pretty cool and I know this sounds silly but both Catherine and I commented on how great these little remover pads were; no smell and no mess!  

Anyway, I digress! I kept my promise and turned my room into a mini nail salon; Helen decided she wanted her nails done as well so I polished hers with a pretty copper she had and Catherine wanted red to match her toes. I'm always amazed at Helen because even though she is blind, she always comments on how nice things "look" and how pretty things are. She truly is an amazing person!

It was fun to see Catherine have some "girl time" (and now I also know what my backup career can be should I ever need it!) It was already 10pm and everyone was tired but Lisa warned the girls not to go to bed too soon or else they would ruin their manicures. It was cute when Catherine showed everyone how she would sleep so as not to ruin her nails; (picture how a person imitates a bunny hopping; elbows bent and wrists flopped down). Ok, I think I'll stop here; it's late and I must be getting punchy! Tomorrow is a big day!

RunBlogRun Posts Interview about WinCatherine

Larry Eder at RunBlogRun posted an interview he did with me and also calls on the running community to help support the film by making a donation! Thanks to Larry, RunBlogRun and to all the runners in advance for helping get WinCatherine made! You can read the article here. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Boston Race Week

This is the first time I’ve had to write a blog entry since arriving in Boston. I decided it was best to drive up so left around 9:30 on Wednesday morning and made great time; I got into Newton by 3pm and that included stopping a few times along the way. I needed to pick up some digital storage cards for the camera we would be using during the week. After picking up the cards I had to stop at the John Hancock convention center which is where the elite athletes stay. Since Lisa, Catherine and Moses were flying up, and since both Catherine and Moses will return to Kenya from Boston, I said I would transport their additional baggage in my car so they wouldn’t have to pay the airline “per bag” charge so I wanted to drop the bags off for them. It was a very short distance to my hotel and I was still checked into The Lenox Hotel by 4pm! The room is really lovely and the sales/marketing manager, Scott, made sure to reserve the room with the absolute BEST view of the Boston Marathon Finish line for me! The view looks down Boylston Street and although the actual finish line graphics weren’t painted on yet, you could see the faded line that is always there throughout the year. I could also watch as the crews down below setting up the bleachers.
I decided to take a little walk to see how long it would take to get to the Fairmont Copley Plaza which is where many of the media events will be held.

The weather was perfect; a little breezy and fairly close to 70 degrees! I returned from my excursion just in time to hear from my good friend Richard from my Boston University days. He had just attended his daughter’s school play and was heading in to pick me up. I was excited to see him because it had been almost 13 years since the last time I saw him! He picked me up and drove me around some old haunts of ours including the BU campus and the apartment where we used to live with some other people. I didn’t have the guts to go up and knock on the door to see who lives there now! After driving around a bit more he took me out to the suburb where he lives and I got to see Laurie, his wife and his daughter Samantha. (His other daughter was away at college). They have an adorable, tiny yorkie named Chloe and it was fun to play with her! After visiting for a bit we headed back into the city and Richard took me to his favorite restaurant there. It was excellent and it was fun to just sit and talk and reminisce about our BU days. Finally it got pretty late and since I had such a long day coming up I needed to get some sleep.

I got back to the hotel and into bed as quickly as possible because I was exhausted from the long drive. It was only 12:30am but I knew I’d have no problem falling asleep. No sooner had I dozed off then I heard a text message. It was 1:30am when I finally looked at that text and read that my cinematographer was still in LA! It turns out there was a fire on the plane and the flight had been delayed. He said they hoped to be into Boston by 7:30 am; I was nervous because we were scheduled to be at a location an hour away at 7:30 am! Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night worrying about whether or not we would make it!
Instead of getting up at 5:30am, I got up at 6:30 and waited to hear news of the flight. Finally, at 7:30am I heard from Russ that his flight was in. I knew he still had to deplane, get his bags, take a cab to his brother’s place and pack some gear before getting to me so I made the decision to leave without him and just meet him in Hopkinton which was about a 50 minute drive. I did not want to be late! It turned out to be the right move because I got there just after Catherine and the other athletes did.

Hopkinton is the starting point of the Boston Marathon and each year the Elmwood School in Hopkinton hosts a program called Adopt-A-Marathoner. The short version is that the elite Kenyan athletes participating in the marathon come to the school and talk to the children. The students spend the month leading up to this day learning about Kenya and by the time the day arrives they are so excited! I was so excited for the event because I know how much Catherine loves kids and you can see her light up when she is around them. As much as the children get out of this program I know Catherine gets just as much. The athletes are announced just like a team of professional athletes at the biggest playoff game of the year; dried ice fills the entrance, spot lights swirl around the gymnasium and an announcer with a booming voice introduces each athlete by mentioning their name and major accomplishments. The athlete then dances out of the entrance with arms raised in the air and then makes a circle around a designated area and all the while the kids hi-five them. The atmosphere is electric! It’s an awesome program that the kids look forward to each year and never forget. The Elmwood school is just for second and third graders and the third graders actually experience the athletes in their classroom as well as in the gym for the big event! After the main event, a class of students does a short two lap run with the athletes around the circle in front of the school. It was great to film this event and to talk to a few of the older students from the track team that were invited back to participate.

After interviewing the principal, Ilene Silver, Russ and I headed out to film the starting line of the race. Unfortunately, we were scheduled to shoot more exterior shots today but since Russ’s flight was delayed the plan had to change. It was rush hour now and there where awful shadows across the road so we had to wait for them to go away! We finally got our shots and then headed back into Boston. We stopped at a tiny Thai restaurant in Brookline on the way back and it was really good! It was a long day but we got some great footage at the Elmwood School!

On Friday we stopped at the Fairmont Copley Plaza to pick up our press credentials then attended the elite athlete press conference. It was short and sweet and then the elite athletes broke out to table to field questions from reporters. I interviewed Denise Robson, a single mother of three who after a divorce went for a run with some co-workers and is now among the elite masters runners. She was really cool and her outlook and attitude were amazing! I also interviewed legendary runner Bill Rodgers who won four Boston Marathons and four NYC Marathons!

After the press conference, we went to the ribbon cutting opening the Expo and then called it a day so Russ could go back to where he’s staying and get the data downloaded from the camera and backed up! I met with another college friend for dinner and got to meet her husband and 3 year old son. I stayed out later than I wanted to but it was fun!
Saturday was a rainy, chilly day in Boston. First on tap was a breakfast organized to recognize past winners of the Boston Marathon. I interviewed two ladies who were both past winners and both had interesting things to say.  
(Lisa Rainsberger) 
I also spoke to a woman who was the winner of the Boston Marathon in Iraq! Afterwards I interviewed a former director of the Boston Marathon  
Tim Kilduff
and then filmed Catherine speaking on a panel at the Expo. 

(L: Helen  Cherono R: Catherine Ndereba)
I learned during the day that Lisa had an extra spot available for the Red Sox game where some of the past winners were going to throw out the first pitch. We had dinner in the Players Club and it was sponsored by John Hancock. They have a program where employees can get help training for the Boston Marathon either in person, or for those who don’t live in Boston, they get the same training via the web. Catherine and a few other athletes were invited to mingle with these runners as well as do the first pitch. Unfortunately, the Red Sox game last night was called due to rain and it was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning when that happened. They had to finish the game tonight and it was already the 12th inning when we were told we wouldn’t be staying. It had gotten too late and we learned it would be at least 45 minutes between the end of the current game (which no one knew how long it would go) and the start of the second game. The directors didn’t want the athletes to be out too late so we went “home”. It was raining and cold anyway! I was exhausted but determined to get a blog entry written!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Catherine Ndereba responds to her fans!

Catherine responds to all the prayers and well-wishes from her fans posting on Facebook and the blog here!

Catherine speaks to the fans 


Mokimo Monday before Boston Marathon Monday!

Last night I had dinner again with Catherine Ndereba. When we were at the mall on Saturday, Catherine invited me to come back to the house for some Mokimo but I was busy that night so she asked me to come on Monday. I officially dubbed the night "Mokimo Monday"! I always look forward to her mokimo. She says it is very easy to make but I can see it does take a lot of arm muscle! Picture a huge pot filled with extra thick mashed potatoes with other ingredients all mixed in and you can imagine how hard it is to stir smooth! She makes a stew to go along with it and that had beef, squash, tomatoes and other fresh vegetables in it. When you put it all together it is a delicious, nutritious meal! You can find photos of it from the last time she had me over for dinner on the blog post from 11/24/2009 here 

Samuel Ndereba
Also at dinner was Catherine's brother, Samuel Ndereba,  
Moses Kigen Kipkosgei (who is also running Boston Marathon next week) and Simon Ndirangu who is Lisa Buster's newest runner. It was a very late dinner, 9PM because they had such a full day going to the chiropractor, training and with Catherine and Moses packing for Boston and then their trip back to Kenya. As always, it was fun. I felt a bit left out at times though because my Swahili is not very good and there was a lot of talking going on that I could not understand! Simon offered to be my Swahili teacher so I may have to take him up on that  at some point!
 Moses Kigen Kipkosgei
Simon Ndirangu

Catherine is looking forward to being back in Boston and Moses is looking forward to running there. I asked Catherine if she gave Moses a lot of good tips and she had a twinkle in her eye when she said "of course" :-)

It was a nice diversion to spend some time with the runners. It's been a stressful week since Catherine's announcement. The BAA revoked my media credentials for the Boston Marathon saying they didn't feel I needed them now that Catherine was out. I had to write a letter of appeal letting them know that there is still a story and just like any other journalist, I have to deal with it and incorporate it. I still have interviews and events planned to film all week! Fortunately, they reinstated the credentials late yesterday and now I can focus on finalizing all of the arrangements. It will be a busy week but I'm looking forward to it! I haven't been in Boston in 12 years and am looking forward to not only filming with Catherine but to visiting some college friends!

I'm also looking forward to my stay at the Lenox Hotel and can't thank the great people there enough for partnering with WinCatherine and sponsoring my stay there while filming! The Lenox is located right AT the finish line of the Boston Marathon!

After tomorrow my posts should be from my room there and who knows, it could be overlooking that finish line!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Catherine Ndereba After Boston Announcement

Those who aren't a fan on our Facebook site WinCatherine Facebook Fan Page would have missed my post yesterday. It was a gorgeous day outside of Philadelphia and I was thinking about Catherine and how she must be feeling. I thought to myself, what does Catherine really love to do (besides running)? I realized I knew what to do so I called her at 11:30am and said "what are you doing today"? She replied "well, I'm going to the mall" and I said "well, I was just calling to ask you if you wanted me to take you to the mall"! I hadn't had a chance to see her since she got back and thought it would be a good day to catch up and I know how much she loves to shop; even if she's not buying she loves to walk around and look. So I picked her up and took her to the mall and we had a nice chat in the car. At the mall, she went about her shopping and I found a nice WiFi spot and caught up on some work, posted on the Facebook page (which if you aren't a fan you wouldn't have known!) and spent some time outside in the beautiful weather.

When Catherine returned 4 1/2 hours later I decided to read her some of the comments, prayers and wishes that everyone has been posting for her both on the blog and on Facebook. She was genuinely touched by everyone reaching out to her and I told her it would mean a lot to her fans if I could record her responses and post them online. She was all too pleased to do so and to be able to thank everyone directly so I stopped reading and when we got back to her house I filmed her as I read each and every post. She was so humbled by them all! I also asked her about her feelings on having to pull out of Boston and some other questions that people are wondering about so I am in the middle of downloading the material and as soon as I put it together I will post it online so you can all see it!
4/10/2010 Catherine Ndereba on the way to the Mall

Catherine's attitude towards this whole turn of events has only proven to me once again what a classy, humble lady she really is. Wait until you hear her outlook! I will get it up soon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sad to report: Catherine Ndereba has withdrawn from the Boston Marathon

Someone very recently asked me what my biggest disappointment was since beginning to work on WinCatherine: The Story of Wincatherine Nyambura Ndereba and at the time (only days ago) said that not raising the funds more quickly was the biggest disappointment; Until today. Today I can honestly say is the biggest disappointment so far; today is the day I learned that Catherine will not be able to run the Boston Marathon on April 19th. She has an injury to the Piriformis Muscle which connects the sacrum to the upper portion of the femur. (If you look on Wikipedia you’ll see that the muscle almost rests against the tailbone)  She got the word from her doctor that he does not recommend she run Boston; he fears that due to the hilly nature of the Boston course she will aggravate the injury to the point where she may possibly do irreparable damage or face an even longer recovery time. For a 38 year old runner, that just isn’t an option. I just spoke with her doctor and he feels that the recovery should take anywhere from 4-6 weeks and that she will be able to do light running sooner.

I am so disappointed for Catherine; I can only imagine what it is like to train for something for so long only to have to withdraw due to injury. I wanted to meet with Catherine and interview her on camera but she was not ready for that. I wanted to capture her emotions at the time but I will talk to her about it on camera at another time. I know it will be important for me to discuss it with her on camera because I know a lot of athletes out there can relate to having an untimely injury. What she did say is that “it is quite frustrating; when you do a marathon you want to do your best” and she says she has missed a lot of speed work due to the injury. She was hoping to be cleared to run but when she got the news, she and her manager, Lisa, discussed everything and they both agree that it is not worth the risk. This comes as a big surprise as most people know that Catherine rarely is injured badly enough to miss a race. Sure, she’s had minor injuries but nothing that has caused her to withdraw from a major marathon event. She said she hasn’t been able to train properly since March 8th; which was a few weeks before she went to Portugal for the Lisbon Marathon. I know Catherine has a very high tolerance for pain so I wonder if that tolerance allowed her to go on longer than someone without such a high tolerance would have. She has been able to do light runs, but when she tries to speed up she can’t and long runs are out as well. Catherine has always talked openly about listening to her body and that being a crucial part of her success so this was a decision I am sure she did not take lightly!

So just as Catherine will have to adjust her training schedule due to this unexpected event, I will adjust as well. I am experiencing disappointment on a different level because I have been planning to film her in Boston and all the time and preparations that go along with that. But, that is what makes documentary interesting; you have to go with the flow so I am re-grouping and continuing to plan a great week of shooting. I have a lot of good interviews lined up so I’m looking forward to it. The good news is that Catherine may still attend the Boston Marathon and race week as a spectator! 

Catherine really put things into perspective, as she always does. She said: “Boston is every year; always next year”