Break of dawn found me at the Kololo airstrip grounds, as usual the word multitude is an understatement but the entire place is yellow you wonder whether it is an invasion of a yellow visible virus. I am punching the air, stretching to my left and then to my right, i do short jogs— I am the ultimate epitome of fitness let alone runner description. I can see people staring at me and then i see them turn away to whisper.. “Hmm i don’t care; y’all will be wanting to know who i am at the finish line”, i hear my mind speak. i try at push-ups but only do a single because i don’t want to scare people too much!! i am clad in a black jumper, yellow vest, my short shorts, a blue armband and my white shoes. i have a bag with my bottle of water lieing on the ground just close by. I am ready.. I feel ready… So i walk that bossy walk to the starting point.
See the weather is always cold, rainy and irritating (it has been this way every other November mostly the day the city’s biggest marathon is to ensue) but today it is oddly shinning; is this a bad sign because I now have to strip myself of the heavy jumper and add it into my already weighty bag. This however is not about to shroud my focus which is in the biggest fattest cheque this marathon could offer- I think to myself. I would bring fame into my family’s door, praises of “woah, who are you? Where do you come from? Who inspired your sprints?” these were the imagined endless questions from various media houses trying to have my photo and interview headlining their news bulletins and cover pages.
I am not too tall so i made for the front line see I knew the nearer to the front, the closer I was to my dream…. The gun went off and i felt like the skies would tumble down but a shout of determination like the one the people gave on Joshua’s Command to bring the walls of Jericho down rang out for the race had been started.. Off I ran like how I have seen Inzikuru, Kiprotich and Bolt do because I have been told a countless times that when you run ahead of the others( when you start with much speed), you have to win, its inevitable. So I was running to my win with bolt in mind, his signature pose my end goal. Lips pressed together, feet lifting me at 180 KPH… I am soaring, I am winning, I am taking this money home, Mama we made it is all I thinking about..
10 minutes or even 7 or even 5 minutes into the run and my chest is burning, my thighs are tearing apart, I am panting like a something that was yet to face creation until I ran, my shorts are up my buttocks, thank God they aren’t tight because they would have given way as I bent, my yellow vest is just there-hanging to my body, I start to slow down, slowly slowly, I look behind me and a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, a group of people are running past me—I keep calm because my mind tells me I should rest if I need to win this race—resting now is your only solution because as the ones that have run past you take rest, you will be the cheetah claiming your victory.
I am still resting, pulling at my blue wrist band and there I see them, a father and his two kids—the ultimate description of rich kids of Uganda, the ones that will be posting updates like “dad bought us new shoes from one of the Nike shops in Miami and we are running with them in this marathon—this is when they are taking a picture with all their shoes… I look down at mine, yes I could have bargained for them from some man downtown but they sure could pass for ones bought in Game. I watch the young boy holding an iPhone and I think back at my own Samsung that heats up sometimes. These thoughts are so lethal I turn around and run, run for my cheque and for my face to be all over newspapers.
My next run tells me how some dreams are unrealistic, how this body is a real Judas. Like if I won, it wouldn’t benefit as well, I stop for all reasons possible- to marvel at how we have freedom of the roads with no interference of cars, I stop at all the stalls, I stop to stare at couples, to stare at every living thing. Meanwhile, hundreds maybe thousands of people have run past me. I meet a bunch of friends but share a few hi’s and hey’s there (my run partner stood me up in the morning when I was half-way to Kololo, I think apart of me is angry, even lonely but I don’t need company—so I keep running..
I have now run for like an hour, good lord, when was 10km ever this long? There are posters that state 2km to go and for some reason, the runners are making stop to take not just a few but plenty of selfies and pictures. Its weirdly annoying but also amusing to watch people do all these facial faces, jump in the air and point their index fingers to their yellow vests–i did that too last year but i guess i was just with crazy company and since i am alone this year, I walk on. I walk away
I have walked the most than I ran but don’t health enthusiasts say, walking is the best work out. I am quite a distance away to the finish line, I am rounding the independence grounds so I start to run, I run, infact I take off—the determined hero was running again.. I am not going to listen to my aching muscles and the cramps in them, I am not going to pay attention to the cruel pain at the side of my stomach, I just run and just as i am 20 runs like how you would say 20 feet, so I am just a 20 runs to the finish line and people standing at the other end are clapping, some laughing, most of them screaming. Is it all for me? I wonder! But then I start to hear names, names that don’t belong to me—go Agnes, you can make it Senva, you are almost here Nanmuntu, yeeyee fat Janzi…. I also continue running and as I am about to cross the finish line, I jump as high as my feet can bounce me off the ground hoping one cameraman’s been waiting to flash me for their tabloid. I walk in with a smile plastered to my face; I even do a subtle queen’s wave, I was not the fast/first but my cover page dreams are valid. I can’t wait to see tomorrow’s newspapers, I have set aside some ka money for them.
Since this was written last night and today is when i have checked the papers, i must state that my face ain’t in any of them not even among MTN’s pictorials. Like i am here massaging muscles, feeling a certain kind of exhaustion and sleep for nothing– I didn’t get the cheque neither was my picture featured on a cover page like any cover page not even on the Rupiny Cover page. Hmmmm