The Masai Mara Marathon 2014 – It ain’t the Peachtree Road Race

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Let me begin by declaring that I am no athlete and I am certainly no runner. However, if I had ever held any secret aspirations to become one, those aspirations are now in the past. Being exposed up close and personal to Kenyan runners for over the last year has confirmed my suspicions that there are some things that I was simply not born to do.

Much to my amusement, my husband and sons are still happily willing to test their running skills with Kenyans. They are under no illusions of beating a Kenyan but they have that American panache that let’s them joyfully run far, far, behind the Kenyans with a certain savoir faire. That brought us to the Masai Mara Marathon 2014.

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As much of what happens in Kenya, it appeared to my western eyes as little more than partially organized choas. When the race didn’t begin on time I wasn’t surprised. Only a few minutes later there was an explanation to the delay. That is highly unusual. An explanation? Why there had been a lion discovered on the route and one of the wildlife helicopters had been dispatched to help chase it away.

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You see this is a race run on the Masai Mara plains and among the bush of Kenya. There are lions and wildebeest and leopards and zebras and warthogs and giraffes, oh my. Typically the armed game wardens in the area are spread out widely over thousands of acres. For the race many of them are brought in to patrol the route. This is a race where you really don’t want to be last.

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So after the elite marathon runners followed the pace car and began their run, the 10K and 5K runners began to line up.

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My boys weren’t too hard to spot.

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Yes, slow people are stepped upon.

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My girls and I waited in cushioned chairs under a tent.

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Masai ladies sang and danced while we waited for the runners to return.

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The Masai men are known for a standing high jump that they incorporate into their traditional tribal dances. Hence a jumping competition was set up.

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A spear throwing contest was also held as we waited.

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A water bottle station was arranged for the returning runners.

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The game wardens kept watch.

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People waited.

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We watched the helicopters land and take off. You were welcome to stand as close as you cared to. No take off safety zone on these plains.

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We found where the trash had been burned the night before.

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My boys made it back from their 5K safely in time to see the Marathon pace car return.

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In the distance the leaders began their return. Even the giraffes came out to watch.

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The sports stars in this part of the world are the runners. Hands down super stars.

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There he is, Ezra Sang, being interviewed.

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We came, we saw, we learned.

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We departed.

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A little Kenyan Ferdinand was even there to see us off.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run so that you may obtain it. – 1 Corinthians 9:24

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