On Monday as Kenya celebrated its 57th Madaraka Day, President Uhuru Kenyatta fittingly decorated 68 patriotic individuals with the new Presidential Order of Service award to recognise their contribution in the fight against the coronavirus.
I’d like to congratulate colleagues in the media, led by my humble, indefatigable Nation Media Group workmate Nasibo Kabale, and Royal Media Services Managing Director Wachira “Coach” Waruru, on making the inaugural list of recipients.
Along with our gallant health workers, under the stewardship of Ministry of Health officials, and other front line individuals, they indeed deserve the Uzalendo Award.
It’s particularly reassuring to see President Kenyatta appreciate the role of oft-unsung journalists in nation-building. Well done!
Besides the 68 garlanded, many more Kenyans continue making sacrifices to help others stay afloat.
Like 43-year-old aircraft engineer David Thuo, a recreational runner.
As President Kenyatta celebrated the 68 pioneers, Thuo was recovering from a morning charity marathon run in Ngong.
The “Kahara Madaraka Day Sub-3 Challenge Attempt” was a drive to run the marathon in under three hours and raise funds for families affected deeply by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wilson Airport-based aircraft engineer rallied support, with some of his friends pledging Sh500 per kilometre for the 42 kilometres, if he dipped under three hours.
Others offered Sh250 per kilometre should he finish under the 180-minute mark.
The rest simply followed the live stream on Facebook, in admiration of the effort.
Reminiscent of Eliud Kipchoge’s INEOS 1:59 Challenge in a Vienna Park last October, Thuo fell well inside his time target, completing the 42.2 kilometres in 2:56:01 - at an average pace of four minutes and 10 seconds per kilometre - at around 9am!
With six families having already benefited from the Adopt-a-family initiative launched by Thuo and co., many more will certainly enjoy better lives, thanks to the engineer’s sub-three hour run.
“When you do a marathon, the body goes through different phases… it’s a metamorphosis throughout, especially when you are running against the clock,” he reflected after the race.
“At some point, I felt dizzy… my hamstring was also feeling a bit odd, but you’ve just got to hold yourself together because when you stop, the time doesn’t stop.”
Thuo went through the pain barrier for George Ruba Ng’ang’a, an out-of-work Kiserian hawker of boiled eggs, to secure a meal and pay rent to accommodate himself and his five children.
The run also puts food on the table for Elizabeth, a single mother of three who has no income after the hotel she used to work in was closed, forcing her to survive on a meal a day, often just a bowl of porridge.
Thuo and his team of five in the Adopt-a-family drive have so far helped six families with food donations and rent, and are targeting to support at least 20 households.
The other trustees are veteran runner Joyce Nduku, Douglas Njiraini, Lucy Wamaitha and Loice Mbogo.
Indeed, unsung heroes and heroines.
“For us to be able to run for charity is humbling,” says Thuo who loves to see people “challenge themselves to the next level and eventually achieve their dreams.”
“We have been running this (Adopt-a-family) initiative for the last one month and we have interacted with people who are actually going through a lot of challenges to earn a living because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have realised how much we are blessed… there are people who are being kicked out of their houses because of Sh1,000 (rent) and they sleep hungry.
“And that’s we decided to do the run for charity. For these families.”
In the first two weeks of the charity drive, Thuo and co. had raised Sh58,178 and have paid rent for these six families until next month.
The pain that Thuo endured, paced by Peter “Chicharito” Muia, Victor Milingo, Brent Okoth and Josephat Cheruiyot on the undulating, tortuous and unforgiving Ngong course, shouldn’t be in vain.
The months of pre-race rituals, the long runs, speed work, tempo runs, fartlek sessions, nutrition, hydration and mental stamina training that the aircraft engineer and his team battled through to gain altitude and reach cruising speed shouldn’t count for nothing.
Indeed, shortly after Thuo completed his sub-three race, contributions to the charity were cruising towards the Sh200,000 mark.
Let’s show some love by chipping in to ensure that Thuo comes to the rescue of Schola, a single mother in Kitengela whose casual jobs have been gobbled up by effects of the coronavirus.
The mother of two struggles to pay Sh1,200-a-month rent for her floods-affected, single-room mabati abode, and can hardly get food for her two children.
For their efforts, Thuo and his team should, hopefully, make the next list of Presidential Order of Service award winners.
For they too have stood out for their selflessness in these difficult, Covid-19 pandemic days.
By the way, the much-travelled, down-to-earth Thuo may be a “recreational runner,” but he is just one race away from completing all six Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM) Series races!
This year’s Tokyo Marathon, cancelled due to Covid-19, would have been his sixth and final one.
Amazingly, Thuo has completed four of his five WMM races in under three hours: London (2:59:47 in 2017), New York (2:59:39 in 2017), Chicago (2:48:29 in 2018) and Berlin (personal best 2:38:59 last year)!