It was after an evening Hasher’s run around the Parklands area of Nairobi that I heard about the Naivasha Relay. Plumber who is one of the seasoned Nairobi Hashers couldn’t stop on how much of an experience the relay is. As I downed my beer, my adventurous streak started pushing the idea of what an adventure this one would be. I thought of running down the Rift Valley escarpment to Naivasha, the rough terrain, the danger of running into a herd of buffaloes or getting a snake bite while running in the savannah grass and I was sold! I signed up for the relay and ordered another beer 🙂
The relay route starts at Dagoretti in Nairobi away from the busy highways and off to a dirt-road track that meanders down the Rift Valley escarpment and ends at the foot of Mt. Suswa, covering an approximate of 83 tough kilometres!
Having ran with the Hashers on several occasions, I know that as much as running to keep fit is their agenda it sort of comes a close second to having a great time socializing and partaking of liquids that are known to cause staggers. However, on this day it was evident that everyone brought their ‘A’ game! Hashers were divided into various teams, each team having it’s members seeded (with regard to their running prowess or lack thereof) from seed 1 to 9. Each team member would run a certain distance of the trail at a given time, with some running two or more stages of the race.
A group of Hash officials are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the relay runs smoothly. They are dubbed ‘Mismanagement’ but do not let that tag fool you as they did an impressive job of it! They ensured that time was kept as per the plan, safety of all the runners as well as spectators was observed, venues for accommodation were booked well in advance, heck they even organized to have a sweep car at every stage of the race to lift from ‘shame’ those runners that might have bitten more than they could chew 🙂
There were various teams that took part in this relay. I ran as a Seed 2 runner for team Hot Dogs. However, not to say that any team was inferior to the other, but two teams really stood out in my view. These are are the Urban Swaras and the Swedish School team. The Urban Swaras ran as if they were going for the money or their lives depended on it! I may not be privy to the times kept by the teams, but I can put my money on that they covered the total distance in the shortest time. On the other hand, the Swedish school had the youngest runners who turned out to be the most resilient. In the tough conditions of sweltering heat, ankle high dust in some stretches, rocky climbs and steep descents, these kids kept going and finished each stage of the race!
We met many locals along the trail, and their glowing faces were a confirmation that the Hashers are a welcome community to their lands every October. I was informed that the Naivasha Relay has taken place every year for more than two decades. There was some teams that actually went handing goodies of books, pens and rulers to the children amongst the spectators.
Despite the sweltering heat, and the terrain that threatened to be a spirit-breaker at every turn, the runners pushed on and kept some pretty impressive time. At one section I ran and the sun felt like it was dropping nearer to earth with every step I took! My skin was burning in the heat. At some point my imagination convinced me that my hair was melting down and I touched my face in horror, only to smear the many streaks of sweat (some caked in dust) on my entire face. I ran on. I panted heavily as my heart pounded on my chest as if threatening to break out. My thigh and calf muscles felt painfully tight with every step. I could see the few runners ahead and wondered if my eyesight was failing me as they kept growing smaller. I pushed on. The crowd waiting at the finish line was clearly visible and near, but I couldn’t seem to get there! I ran on. I remember praying that angels could carry me to the finish line, but I fast resigned to letting my mind get lost in the beauty of God’s creation around me. I finally finished the race! The Naivasha Relay was a true test of my fitness and I cannot wait to do it again next year!
The trail took us to some of the most picturesque areas of the country! Beautiful hills gracefully lined the horizon, some with crater rimmed tops. We had the privilege of running in an environment that knows little if any human interference. This is a run I am willing to do again and again. There’s is no reason why you should not also have it on your adventure calender! 🙂
As you already know by now, I took time to bring you some shots of how the events unfolded. Enjoy.
Event: The Naivasha Relay 2015 (Hashers) Hash History: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hash_House_Harriers
Location: Nairobi – Naivasha (Through the Suwa route) Approx. 83km
Photography and documentation by: Macharia Njuguna, @macharianjuguna