Saturday, 8 January 2011

Now That's What I Call a Race!!

It's race day and we get a bit of a lie in, up at 7a.m. Feeling slightly nervous about the race, probably because it's a bit of an unknown. From what I understand the Senior Mens 12km race should start at 10a.m. We leave camp at 8.45a.m. And jog down to the course (only about 800m away). When we arrive the junior women’s race has already started, this will be followed by the junior men, the senior women and finally the senior men. 9a.m. and it's already pretty hot in Iten, so I try and stay hydrated. Off for a warm-up with Edwin, about 15mins nice and easy, although you always hit at least one big hill when you run out here!

My Race Number for the Iten Cross Coutnry Champs

Crowds are pretty awesome for a district cross country race, somewhere between 500 and 1000 people, not bad for a town with a population of maybe 4000 people! By 10a.m. There are still two races before mine so I guess we won't be starting on time, not too worried as it's so hot I will be warmed-up whenever we start! Just before 11a.m. a whistle indicates we should assemble at the start, my guess is that perhaps 500 men are starting, I chose a position close to the back after seeing the speed of the junior mens start and the bottle neck after about 200m. A couple more “muzungus” join me on the start line, so it looks like I will have a race to be the first white guy. Lots of shouting from the officials and then we are off........

Or so I thought.... After 100m we are called back, looks like we false started!! I wasn't too surprised by the chaotic start as Edwin warned me about the start of Kenyan races (once he ran 3km of a half marathon before being called back!). So on the second attempt we are off, one of the white guys stormed off maybe in the top 20 but he dropped out after about 400m! I was a little more conservative, starting near the back, the stampede in front of me created a huge red dust cloud for me to run through, but this was the least of my problems! I did keep it steady for the first lap but was still breathing very heavy and struggling in the heat but persevered and no-one over took me the whole race :-) Kenyans were dropping out left, right and centre, not sure if I can claim I “beat” these drop-outs but I'm going to anyway! Probably about 50-100 people dropped out, so I didn't do too bad!

As I mentioned earlier the crowds were great and nearing the end of each lap (we did 6 x 2km laps) where the majority of the crowd were, they started chanting “Mazungu”, “Mazungu”, I couldn't help but give a cheeky wave which only made them cheer louder!! Managed a sprint finish and achieved my aim of not coming last!

See I'm not last!!

Putting things into perspective the guy that won, Geoffrey Mutai, is a 2.04 marathon, 59min half marathon runner, he won by nearly 2 mins and beat me by 8mins (he actually lapped me, but was the only one that did) I was only 3 mins behind a few of the Run-Fast team so was quite happy with the result, considering I'm still acclimatising.

Probably the highest quality race I have ever done, it was mega tough but I absolutely loved it!!

Met a nice German guy at the race called Marcus who was taking photos, he is going to email me some he got of me, which I will put on the blog at a later date.

A few last things to note:
1: I was the top European/White guy.
2: Probably the first time a Winchester & District AC vest has competed in the Iten District Cross Country Championships!

Bring on the next race!!

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