Wednesday, June 12, 2024

RUNNING IS IN OUR BLOOD: Monica Njeri In Peachtree Race

RUNNING IS IN OUR BLOOD: Monica Njeri In Peachtree Race

RUNNING IS IN OUR BLOOD: Monica Njeri In Peachtree Race
Christine Muchene (C),Monica Njeri (R) and Brenau Xcountry Captain Rachel (L)
The first Peachtree Road Race was on July 4, 1970. A grand total of 150 runners started at the old Sears building at the intersection of Peachtree and Paces Ferry roads in Bulkhead, Atlanta. 110 participants hit the finish line and they made the beginning of this world renowned race. Participants have been coming from all countries. Those that have participated are current and retired Olympians. They form what is called the ELITE runners and run for a compensation. There are, however, many amateurs who run for fun and also to get motivation from the elites. Peachtree runners train in the humid summer heat and arrive early on the race day (as early as 5.30a.m.) for an adrenaline-jumping warm-up, awaiting their chance to stride down the tall corridors of Atlanta’s signature street. Some stretches of Peachtree are wide open and effortless and some hills are so punishing that even walking can become an attractive proposal. But in the end, no matter how fatiguing or difficult the course may be, runners have very little to show for their valiant efforts. And so come the great philosophical question of running – how do you measure and reward miles of sweat? Like a postcard collection or a stamped passport, Peachtree T-shirts become wearable memories, reminders of triumphant victory sprints, a hard-won finish or a picturesque morning running under the cool shadow of a sea of oak trees. The T-shirts can fray and fade with time, but for the 55,000 runners who brave uncertain weather to run 6.2miles through the heart of Atlanta’s tree-lined streets and towering skyscrapers, the T-shirt at the finish line means one very important thing:
One of the great things about the Peachtree is the opportunity to share the road with some of the finest distance runners on the planet. Of course some of us must be content to do so from a distance but nevertheless, it’s exciting to take part in such a world-class event. With the Beijing Olympic Games looming, it seems worthwhile to take note of the many Olympic athletes who have tested their mettle on the hallowed asphalt of Peachtree Street. Peachtree Road Race champions have generally become Olympic champions like: Jeff Galloway(1970), Don Kardong, Frank Shorter, Mary Decker, Craig Virgin, Anne Audain, Grete Waitz, Lynn Jennings, Francie Larrieu-Smith, Uta Pippig, Anne Marie, Ed Eyestone, Joan Nesbit, Elana Meyer of South Africa just to mention a few. As amazing as the African runners are, relatively few have been Olympians, a fact at least partially due to the sheer number of world-class athletes competing for just a few spots given for each nation. However, we have Lornah Kiplagat, a Kenyan who has won the Peachtree Race in 2000,2001,2005,2006 and who now runs for Netherlands.
Over the past two decades, the athletes of Kenya have come to dominate the sport of running, achieving such success that to most casual observers, the term “KENYAN” is synonymous with the elite runners in general. Fierce in competition, cheerful and modest outside of it ,they hail from a nation that had been known as one of Africa’s most stable, boasting a growing economy, a good educational system and a thriving tourist trade. According to Lisa Buster, owner of the elite runners’ agency Promotion in Motion, Ltd., a number of runners in Kenya found themselves trapped wherever they happened to be when the violence after the elections broke out. For many Kenyan athletes, running suddenly took a back seat to survival. Training camps were closed all over the country except those in Nairobi. Of course, running was affected in total. Some runners were helped by their agents to leave the country or at least get to a relative safety in Nairobi, others were forced to sneak out for furtive runs or give up training altogether. Neriah Asiba and Moses Kigen were some of those who suffered and could not participate in this year’s Peachtree Race. However, we were blessed with the participation of Janet Cherobon who won two half-marathons and one marathon, 10K and 5K all in U.S this year, breaking the time record. While running was seriously affected, it will be up to the runners to rebuild their competitive dreams, but there is no doubt that their famed competitive spirit will keep Kenya’s elite runners on victory podiums around the world for a long time to come.
Well, running can be a great way to grab some free “MENTAL” time by yourself but as you will experience, running with others can not only be a lot of fun, it can be great motivation as well. I encourage you to get involved in a running organization to find fun, fitness and friendships that can last a lifetime. For those in Atlanta, I will attach a few clubs and organizations where you could start. For those in middle and high school in U.S., signup for running in your respective schools this fall.
The 39th Peachtree Road Race, July 4th 2008 as Tracey Russell, the Race Director of Peachtree put it this way “with more than 55,000 participants and 3,200 volunteers, 150,000 spectators, organizing Peachtree is like managing a small city for a day” I could not agree more. I was woken up at my daughter Monica Njeri Muchene who was registered in the Peachtree race under Time Group 1A ( 42:00 through 49:59 minutes) short listed from previous races. Participants and spectators had been advised to use Marta buses and trains as most roads in Atlanta were closed. At this wee hours of the morning, I a saw thousands of people from all walks of life trying to make it either to start line or along the course up to the finish line. Finally, we managed to get our train tickets and managed to get at the start line at 6a.m. The race finally kicked off at 7.30a.m. and within 28minutes we were already celebrating our Kenyan Heroes. There were 11groups of runners starting at close intervals. The first group was the Top-Seeded runners who can run the 6mile course with (30:30or less). Our Kenyan and Ethiopian elite runners just did that! Some ran the mile within 5minutes or less. The second group to take off was the Sub-Seeded (42minutes or less). The third group was the Time Group 1A (42 through 49:59 minutes). The fourth group to take off was the Time group 1B (50:00 through 54.59minutes). The other nine groups were arranged according to how they had registered for the race. While the first three groups were timed by a chip put on their shoe, the other 9 categories were not timed by such a device. Majority of the participants did not care about finish time. All they wanted was to finish the race. Some even walked all through the course. For Americans, it is not about winning but rather a tradition to commemorate their Independence Day. What was clearly evident were the American colors, blue, white and red. There were water sprays from fire marshals along the route, music was also provided by various bands along the route and water was provided for every mile. Both young and old either participated or just watched by queuing on the road and others on roof tops. It is estimated that on top of the 55,000 runners, there were over 150,000 spectators. Cops were all over the place with cars and motorcycles. Cops on horsebacks tried to keep order. The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was located just before the finish line in case there was an emergency. The funniest joint was the lost people corner. It was very easy to loose your loved one due to the multitude of people. It was like a swam of bees all struggling to move forward? Thanks to the coordinators because they had put 4 giant balloons with alphabet letters. Through cell phones, you could hear people telling their loved ones and friends under which balloon they should meet. The balloons were like a landmark as they were visible from every location.
Many might wonder why I have taken all this time to explain about this race. One, my daughter has been running for the last 6 years and I could not ask for more from her. Although it started as a joke when she was in 8th grade and continued through high school, she managed to get herself a running scholarship at Brenau University. Although she cannot run for money after she signed the contract with Brenau University, she aspires that one day she will join the Boston Marathon. She might not be there time wise yet but with time she will be there. She just needs more training, good coach, thanks to coach Mcintyre, supportive family, and good diet which I guess she already has. The other reason for my writing is to bring awareness to many young Kenyans especially here in the U.S. who would benefit from running scholarships. As Monica puts it, running is in our (Kenyan) blood. Some parents are still brainwashed that only a particular tribe can run but look at the statistics and see that the talent goes across the country. So, what more favor can we ask from God.
At the race, I also noticed college coaches scouting to see whether they could poach runners. They were not off course looking for the professionals but rather they were looking for trainable Kenyans, amateurs who could be trained and make a name for their colleges in exchange for education. Again, what more favor can we ask from God! I also met a number of Kenyans who have come to U.S.A on a running scholarship! Some of them are in the attached photos. When you get such scholarships, the college pays also for room and board, books and some pocket money. What more could parents ask for. My appeal to young Kenyans to take this talent seriously and maximize on it here.
Now that you have been persuaded to run, you might want to ask what it takes to be a good runner. Well, it will take a minimum of 20-25miles a week. The running should be divided into two. Flat courses and uphill courses to strengthen the muscles. You will also need a gym where you will work out your shoulder muscles among other muscles. A treadmill could help when the weather is not so good. For those who dread cooking at home, I am sorry about that but the truth is that you have to cook natural balanced diet topped with lots of milk for your calcium. Gradually, you will understand why water will be part of your luggage wherever you go instead of all those sodas and juices. Only natural juices are recommended. No, no to smoking, alcohol and diet pills. With all the training and proper eating, you cannot have a weight problem. Get enough sleep everyday and remind yourself about the other Kenyans who have made it in this sport. Network with those already in it and your ladder upwards will be as easy as ABC. You will have to establish a PRR (Personal Race Record). This is your best time on any race. Do not worry when you cannot come to the finish line first. What is important in running is that you can retain your personal record which you will have set for yourself. Remember sports not only sharpen your brain and mind but they keep the soul from wandering towards the devil. You will be too busy to run into bad company. You will be able to mingle with top runners, travel across and out of the country. You will be amazed at how high your GPA goes with training. In a nutshell, sportsmen and women are well disciplined in the day to day life. And hey, you could also live an active life with straight bones even past 70years! Confirm this with Kipchoge Keino and other retired long distance runners.
Thank you for reading this far and God Bless you.
Should you require more information, please contact
Monica or Christine Muchene mo*********@ya***.com or cm******@ya***.com
Article by Christine Muchene
Marietta, Georgia


Police boss in helicopter mishap

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Ali, Ojode in plane mishap


A police helicopter carrying Police Commissioner Hussein Ali, senior internal security ministry officials and a group of journalists crash landed in Kapsabet on Monday.

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Those on board the helicopter included assistant minister in the office of the president Orwa Ojode, Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner Hassan Noor Hassan and other government officials who sustained minor injuries.

The security bosses were heading to parts of the Rift Valley where internal security minister Prof George Saitoti was scheduled to undertake a security tour of the region.

Four journalists including a KBC cameraman were onboard the helicopter and are admitted at the Kapsabet hospital.

Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe in a statement confirmed that all passengers including those who sustained slight injuries were out of danger.

The cause of the crash is yet to be determined but reports say the police chopper developed mechanical problems soon after take off.





Kenyans sweep top half marathon honors
August 16, 2008


PARKERSBURG -Kenyans swept top honors at Saturday’s running of the 22nd annual News and Sentinel Half Marathon.
For the second straight year, the men’s race went to Alene Reta, who completed the hilly 13.1-mile course in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 52 seconds.


For the second straight year, the men’s race went to Alene Reta, who completed the hilly 13.1-mile course in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 52 seconds, a winning margin of 32 seconds over runnerup and fellow Kenyan Orose Valentine.
It was Reta’s fourth appearance here. After finishing as the runnerup in his first two Parkersburg races, Reta now has two titles on his resume, joining Jon Sinclair, Steve Kogo and Rod DeHaven on the list of those who have won here twice. The only three-time winner of the race is Kenyan Godfrey Kiprotich.
In the women’s race, 25-year-old Kenyan Angelina Mutuku, running in Parkersburg for the first time, broke the tape in 1 hour, 12 minutes and 48 seconds to claim the $3,000 first prize, the same amount Reta received. Another Kenyan, Jane Muia, finished second, with Ethiopians Mamitu Daska, Teyba Naser and Alemtsehav Misganaw placing third through fifth.
Winning the men’s masters division was 41-year-old Gideon Mutisya of Eufaula, Ala. He finished in 1:09:32, more than three minutes ahead of runner-up John Piggott.
Claiming the women’s masters division title was Susan Graham-Gray, a sight-challenged runner from Greencastle, Pa. She finished in 1:22:43, to beat out second place finisher Debbi Kilpatrick of Strongsville, Ohio.
Thomas Dever, a 51-year-old runner from Terre Haute, Ind., won the grand masters division in 1:13:33, and Lee Dipietro of Buxton, Md., a perennial runner here, took the grand masters women’s title in 1:27:07.
Winning the half marathon walk championship was 56-year-old Don Slusser of Monroeville, Pa., who finished in 2 hours, 13 minutes and 5 seconds, 50 seconds ahead of second place finisher 55-year-old George Welch of Mineral Wells.
Kathy Ervin, a 41-year-old resident of Quaker City, Ohio, dominated the women’s walk competition, finishing in 2:17:21. Tena Harper of Belpre was second and Debbie Spears of Parkersburg placed third.
Jeff Fisher, a 51-year-old resident of Medina, Ohio, won the wheelchair division by more than three minutes, finishing in 55 minutes and 11 seconds. Chad Johnson of Charlestown, Ind., was second. Michael Ellison, a 55-year-old Little Hocking resident, was the top hand crank finisher, crossing the finish line in 1:06:31.
Reta wasn’t the only winner who made it two in a row on Saturday as recent Warren High School graduate and soon-to-be Ohio University cross country runner Tyler Cantley won the Two Mile Run in a time of 10 minutes and 1 second, nipping Mark Wieferich of Marietta by just three seconds. It was the eighth straight year a runner from Warren has won the race as Jason Linton broke the tape each year from 2001 to 2006.
Hallie Richards, a 15-year-old who will attend Warren this fall, won the women’s race in 12:30. The women’s finish was even closer than the men’s as Richards nipped Ellen Kist of Parkersburg by just one second. Third place finisher Beverly Knight, a 14-year-old from St. Marys, was just four seconds behind.
Richard Shea, a 42-year-old Marietta resident, won the Two Mile walk competition, finishing in exactly 20 minutes. John Loscar of Belpre was second and Ernest Doll, a 71-year-old from Pennsboro, placed third.
Donna Graham, a 58-year-old from Lowell, Ohio, won the women’s walk competition in 19:22, nearly three minutes ahead of second place finisher Anne Marie St. Clair of Metairie, La.
Entry numbers were strong as the half marathon witnessed 766 runners and 108 walkers cross the finish line. The Two Mile Run had 502 runners and 120 walkers complete the course.
Weather conditions were perfect with the temperature still in the 50s when Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell fired the gun to start the competition.
By DAVE POE-newsandsentinel


RUNNING IS IN OUR BLOOD: Monica Njeri In Peachtree Race

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