Friday, April 23, 2010

Tanzanian Marathoners Put Kenyan Runners on the Alert!

(Pichani Josiah Kibira baada ya kukimbia katika Marathon huko Minnesota)


By Josiah Kibira

If you follow the results of almost any marathon in the United States, you are bound to find one or more Kenyans in the top 10. In most cases, Kenyan runners place in the top three finishers, and, often times win the whole race.

It is no different in Minnesota, where both the Grandma’s Marathon of Duluth, and the Twin Cities Marathon have been dominated by Kenyan runners.

Running a marathon is not an easy proposition to undertake, in fact only 1% of all human beings do participate in this challenging sport. It is often compared to an analogy asking, “Why do you keep hitting yourself with a hammer? Because it feels good when you stop.”

But Kenyan runners have dominated this sport worldwide, a fact that Tanzanian runners find hard to swallow. When confronted by the subject, most will always bring up Filbert Bay, a Tanzanian who was not even a marathon runner, but won a gold medal in the Olympic Games many years ago.

I have been a maratho n runner for over 14 years. I try to run a marathon every year. Last year I was surprised at about mile 15 or so, wondering why can’t I see mile 16 marker on the horizon, when suddenly I heard someone say, ”Vipi, mzee! I looked up, to find a Tanzanian in the middle of the pack of runners.

We exchanged few words, and I should say, I was in worse shape than he was at that point in the race, then I urged him to proceed ahead without me. He did, but then it somehow gave me an immediate surge of energy. Seeing him was like saying, ”Wabongo na sisi tumo”, or “We, the Tanzanians,…got this!”… or so I thought.

I was proud because it was the first time in my fourteen years of running that I actually met a fellow Tanzanian in the race...running.

After the race, I made a po int of getting in touch with the Tanzanian runner so that we could tell the world and put the Kenyan runners on alert for the next marathon! Who knows? We may one day beat them! It could happen!
He surprised me, when he mentioned that there was yet another Tanzanian who was also in that same Twin Cities Marathon that day.

This is about us…the Tanzanian Marathoners and why we run.

Meet Gracious Msuya.

He started running before he ever landed in the United States. He was a student at the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. You can see his dedication to the sport because Dar can be very hot and it takes a serious commitment to run.

Running is such a personal decision because you have yourself for motivation. Gracious found motivation in the promise he made to his young kids that he would run the marathon once the kids were teenagers. His kids still have years to become teenagers, but the statement itself motivated him to start training instead of waiting so long.

The other motivator for him is his health. It is a proven fact that there are many health benefits from running including reversing the aging process. That’s right, you not only reverse the aging process, and sometimes you can even delay it.

I asked Gracious if there was anyone who inspired him to run, he said when he was in primary school (Elementary School) he saw a man who was in his 30’s who used to run and practice Karate. That was it. Gracious’ actual running would come later in his adult life as a student at a University.

Gracious admits running a marathon has not been easy. To date, he has run about 5 full marathons and a few short races. “It takes time and it is simply hard,” he remarks. But he also admits that the challenges of life do not make this easy. Balancing work and family is difficult enough, and squeezing in training time as well makes life all the more interesting. All in all, the advantages of running far outweigh all the hassles one goes through.

Gracious has high hopes for Tanzanians or any one who wants to take up running. In his words, he says “If you can walk a mile, you can run a mile.” One first mile could be a start to running many miles in the future. He also offers words of encouragement stating not to be afraid to start something new because in the end you may surprise yourself.

So, to all Kenyan runners, look out! Gracious Msuya is coming!

My inspiration to run came to me by accident. After I graduated from college in Kansas, I moved to Minneapolis. It was after the Twin Cities Marathon was completed and I was reading the race results in the paper. As I read at the men’s results list, I saw that there was a 99 year old man who completed the race in 5 hours and 20 minutes. This was enough for me. I thought, if a 99 year old man can complete a full marathon, I should be able to complete one. I have never looked back and I have logged 14 marathons ever since.

I use running as meditation. Most of the movies I have written were conceived as I ran. Right now I have a few movie plots in my head, and as I run, the plots get polished.
I agree with brother Msuya, “If you can walk a mile, you can run a mile.” It is a discipline that has taught me to be in control of my many aspects of life, especially the fact that I don’t quit easily and I don’t sweat the small stuff. I always tell myself that it is only mile 5, with 21 more to go. With this perspective, there are few things that surprise me.

And this is why we run. A sense of accomplishment. A sense of setting a goal and achieving it. A sense of an overwhelming individual success. This can be transferred to any aspect of life, finances, school, career, family. Because really at the end of the day, we are first answerable to ourselves…

And yes, even beating Kenyan runners…it can happen!

So guys and gals – “TWENDE KUKIMBIA….”

Know any Tanzanian runners? Share the story with us!! - Josiah


Naomba huyo Gracious Msuya aje mwakani akimbie Boston Marathon! Kweli waKenya wame-dominate!

1 comment:

jonas said...

josiah,me cannot recall bayi winning a gold medal in the olympics