I miss races — running races, bike races, and triathlons. There just aren’t very many around here. So you can imagine my delight when Mwanza, Tanzania, decided to host an international half-marathon last year, and to do so annually. So, as of today, I have run every “Rock City Marathon” (two) since its inception. Here’s a little about my goals and such for the race today:
- My primary goal was to run my first race in “minimalist footwear.” I’ve switched to “barefoot” running now, though I’m much more concerned with barefoot running form than with actually being barefoot. I do 80% of my running in water socks and the other 20% actually barefoot. Today was my first race in the water socks. It felt fine, other than a single blister on a single toe.
- Because I’ve been working to switch over to “barefoot” running, I’ve purposely not used a watch or timed any of my runs (except for one) during the past six months. So I had no idea how I’d do today on time. I ended up running 1:49:10 for a 13.1 mile race. That’s 8:20 per mile, which I’m happy with for my first “minimal shoe” race. I think I would have been a tad faster had the race started on time, but this is Africa — and things rarely start on time.
- Most of the runners involved in this race are professionals, many of whom compete for their countries in international meets. So there’s no chance of me being anywhere near the top — or even in the top half. Last year I was the 3rd place white person, and finished in the top 4 or 5 of the amateurs. This year my goal was to be the 1st place white person. I was. But I was the only white person racing this year. I did finish towards the top of the amateurs again, though, so that was good.
Below is a link to an article about the race — with my comments mixed in for good measure:
Mwanza city won’t be the same today as the finest runners will vie for top honours in the Rock City Marathon 2010.
Are journalists really allowed to say things like “the finest runners” without clarifying among whom these runners are the finest? Mwanza is known as “Rock City” — hence the picture above. And the word marathon is quite misleading here — as the race was only a half-marathon. Still, all the advertisements, programs, and finishers’ shirts read “Rock City Marathon.”
Co-ordinator of the event Raymond Kanyambo told reporters that preparations for the biggest sporting event in the Lake Zone were complete where the race will start at the CCM Kirumba Stadium at 7am.
Mr. Kanyambo may have said that preparations were complete, but our “7am” race didn’t begin until after 8:00 am. The reason: Coca-Cola had not yet delivered the bottled waters to the water stations along the course. It’s nice they didn’t want us to run without water (there was none after the six-mile mark last year), but I woke up, ate, drank, used the restroom, arrived, and warmed up all for a 7 am start. I was hungry and thirsty and needing to warm up again by the time we started, and the sun was NOT getting any cooler.
He said that the marathon to cover 21-km has attracted over 1,000 runners while over 2,000 participants have enrolled for other races expected to take place today.
The “marathon” would cover 21 kilometers, eh…? As for the “over 1,000 runners” competing in the half-marathon? Make that 50 — and that’s an incredibly generous head count.
“We have also got a good response for the three-kilometre corporate classic race and for people with physical disabilities as well as two kilometer race for children.”
I didn’t hear anything about the results of the 3k race, but there were indeed a lot of kids running the 2k. And watching them finish was really great. Several of our friends in Mwanza ran it with their children. It’s always nice to see kids enjoying exercise.
He said that the winners in the half marathon will each get Sh500,000, runners up would take home Sh300,000 while the third placed winners will be given Sh200,000 each. He said the 21 kilometre race will start at the Kirumba Stadium while the other races will start in town and end at the stadium.
500,000 shillings is about $330, which may not sound much. But it’s five times the monthly pay of a salaried manual laborer.
The marathon organised by Capital-Plus International Limited. He said that over 3,000 runners are expected to compete in the event; the biggest sporting gala in the lake Zone. “We have got confirmations from Mwanza, Mara, Tabora, Dar es Salaam, Shinyanga, Manyara, Singida, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Zanzibar and Kagera,” he said.
Again, 3,000 runners?! The biggest sporting gala in the Lake Zone? Most people in town had never even heard of the race and only knew it was happening if they happened to be walking down the street as runners with numbers on (reused from last year) passed them.
He said that runners from the neighbouring countries like Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda have also asked to compete in the marathon. Kanyambo said that the route was measured last month by an official approved by the International Amateur Athletics Associations (IAAF). We expect the race to be very entertaining.
The measurement seemed to be right this year. Last year we ran 19k, giving me an easy PR (which doesn’t count). By the way, I’m pretty sure every racer from Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, AND Uganda beat me.
But the race was indeed entertaining.