NEMA sports team [PHOTO: MICHAEL NDERITU/NEMA]
Run for Water, Run for Life acted as a clarion call for thousands of athletes who turned up at Ndakaini on 12th September 2015 for the 12th edition of Ndakaini Half Marathon. Well, some of the participants were not athletes but their love for nature drove them to support the call to conserve the Ndakaini Dam, a major source of water for Nairobi County.
The UAP Ndakaini Half Marathon started back in 2004 under the auspices of the Ndakaini Dam Environment Conservation Association (NDEKA), when UAP partnered with NDEKA to plant trees around the Dam and sponsor the first Ndakaini Half Marathon. The scenic Ndakaini Dam is located 2041 metres above sea level at the foothills of the picturesque Aberdares, some 70km from Nairobi, and is located in Murang’a County.
The Marathon is categorised under three main race distances, the 21km, 10km and the 5km race. All races see professional athletes pitted against amateur runners with eventual winners of all the races receiving cash rewards of varying degree.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) being the overall supervisor and coordinator over all matters relating to environment was not left behind as a corporate team of nine staff participated in the 10KM race. The team comprised of Mr Joseph Munala, Wangari Kirumba, Benedict Musyoki, Evans Olunchiri, Teddy Lenga and Anthony Mwangi.
The race also attracted seasoned athletes and senior government officers one of them being the cabinet secretary for water and irrigation, Eugene Wamalwa.
Based on the terrain nature of the route, it took determination and will to finish the course. Throughout the entire course, runners traversed through scenic green hills and the majestic Ndakaini Dam. Such beauty took away all the pain, exhaustion and hurt that engulfs one as you try to complete the race. Along the way water points were strategically located; this helped to keep runners hydrated as a lot of water is lost while the body is busy cooling itself through sweating.
Just like an old adage goes that in every competition there is a winner and a looser, Matthew Kisoro and Pauline Korikwiang were the winners in the men and women 21 KM respectively. In the 10KM race, Amos Kiptich won for men while Mary Wambu was the winner in the women race.
The marathon however, is not all fun and play, a bigger agenda lies behind all the pomp and colour. Almost 70 per cent of the water piped to Nairobi comes from Ndakaini Dam. That clearly indicates the importance of the dam to Nairobi residents. However, all this is under threat, with a total holding capacity of 70 million cubic metres the dam is under constant threat as global warming ravages the country and other African countries.
This means that uncontrolled weather patterns such as drought and increase in the earth’s temperature will be more common leading to less rainfall and hence a low water, the burgeoning population in Nairobi and its environs has also led to the consumption of more water and the increase in demand for water means that the water resource is under immense pressure to sustain the huge numbers of people.
For many, the marathon offers a welcome distraction from all the hustle and bustle of the city. Constant pressure to perform, meet deadlines and make money sees many residents push aside their health to the side-lines. Cases of life style diseases such as heart disease and cancer have in on the rise. Hence the race offers a platform where people can come and run helping them keep in shape.
Therefore, the theme “Run for water, run for life” is clearly exemplified through participating in the race and raising funds for conservation of the dam. Moreover, the through participation, the race is a form of exercise for many helping to keep their body fit at least for day!
NEMA also took the opportunity to sensitize the public on the role and mandate of the Authority through disbursement of publications. NEMA banners were also strategically located along the route.