Last week I was among the 20,000 runners who joined the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta, for her Beyond Zero Half Marathon. The aim of the race was to raise money to help curb maternal and child mortality. The First Lady has been on a mission to donate 47 mobile clinics to all the counties in Kenya to ensure that no mother dies while giving life. She had donated the 21st clinic before taking a break for the race.
What struck me most about the day was how people-young and old alike- showed up in thousands, the zeal, the vigor and the resolve to complete the race. Individuals signed up for what they deemed fit to participate in ranging from 2km, 10km and ultimately 21km that the First Lady participated in.
Families used this as an oppportunity to have their ‘family-day-out’ and give back to the society with even 5 year olds not being left behind. Wow, what a challenge for all of us. Corporates also used this as a great opportunity to interact with the members of the society that they serve in different capacities. Personally, I was part of a 31-team representing my organization. We did not register as a corporate though, but as individuals 🙂 Most of us registered for the 10km race with only four taking up the 21km challenge.
The atmosphere was filled with lots of song, dance and cheer to get people into the mood. It all started at Uhuru Highway where everyone was geared for the event in attractive purple t-shirts, which were branded ‘run with the first lady’ on one side and ‘beyond zero’ on the other. The back had an image of the first lady holding a baby as a depiction of her advocacy for maternal and child survival. People used this as a chance to not only be part of a worthy cause, but also as an opportunity to have fun and bond on their way to the finish line that was inside Nyayo Stadium.
Personally, I was very scared about the race. I couldn’t bring myself to the thought of doing 10km since I knew very well that I hadn’t trained. I had been out of Nairobi for the greater part of the previous week on work-related basis and had travelled back that Friday evening. I attended a friend’s wedding on Saturday and despite the cumulative fatigue, I showed up at Uhuru Highway ready for the marathon on Sunday morning at 6.40am. I had the will to do it. It’s all that mattered right? And guess what, I finished successfully with no incidents. Yes, I made it to the finish line…What greater joy than that of seeing yourself among those who pressed on to the very end? 🙂
The First Lady made it to the finish line having done 21km. How did she even manage? Well, I guess she was driven by the passion to make a difference and her love for mothers and children kept her focused to the goal.
The whole experience taught me that you can achieve just about anything if you have the will to do it. It all started as a dream for the First Lady, but now she has garnered support from citizens and both local and international organizations. The run raised 46 million that will be used to boost maternal and child health interventions through fully kitted mobile clinics in all the counties 🙂 Mothers are amazing people and seeing a cause to aid in decreasing their deaths, is very encouraging 🙂 🙂