Today was the first meet for me as a coach. What a great day!
First I road a matatu to OLN and then walked from the beginning of the slum to the school. Those you have watched the video I uploaded, that was my walk today. After we were all set we set out through the slum. If you have seen the video, that is the main road. The route we took was more of a path than a road. No motorcycles, SUV’s, Cars could go here. The shacks are much closer together. Eventually we arrived at a railroad. We walked along this for quite a while. Along both sides of the rails, there are kiosks set up… and they stretch all the way down the railroad. Some had tables or blankets with goods on them set up across the tracks. When a train comes they move the tables, but the blankets and their goods stay between the tracks. This was quite an experience! I wish I could take video of it, but I think that would be seen as disrespectful by some. Eventually wee made it to a bus stop and took a big bus to the primary school the meet was being held at.
When it comes down to meet organization today, I can only say wow! This wow is not in a good way. We started the meet 2.5-3 hours behind schedule. The carrying out of the meet was not too bad, but there was definitely an organized mess out there. The track was just a chalked somewhat oval/circle around the field. There is absolutely no way it was 400m. That would mean 5th place in the boys 10k would be 31:11 by a 14 year old… who has not been training much and ran this at altitude. At the end of the meet there was some confusion, as one of my 5k runners was not called as a qualifier for Thursday’s meet. He placed 2nd and the top two in each event qualifies for Thursday’s meet.
As for results. My team had 5 qualifiers for Thursday. The first is Simon Kitumo. He is 14 years old and doubled in the 10k and 5k today. He placed 5th in the 10k and 2nd in the 5k. So he will advance to Thursday in the 5k. He is very good and the fact that he was able to handle 15k of hard running at his age is very impressive! In the US, outside of a conference meet, people would whine and complain about doing that double. Even high schoolers in the US would complain about running 4×800, open 800, 1600, 3200… for these kids that would be “meh…”. My other distance runner, Fahran (I might have butchered that, plus I do not know is other name yet), failed to qualify in most of his events last Friday. He ran the 800, 1500, and 3k. Today he ran the 10k, but was pulled off when he was lapped because he was not in the top 6, and the 3k. I think he did not qualify for the 3k on Friday, but the other teacher coaching with me (Patrick) told him to run. I figure if he was not supposed to be in the race, they would have kicked him out. During this race I was very excited. With a few laps to go, Fahran made a few surges to catch and pass 4-5 runners ahead of him. On the penultimate lap, he had moved into second and gapping those behind him. At this point my heart was pounding! I told him he needed to catch the runner in first by the last curve then out sprint him the final straight. He tried, but there was too much distance and he was only able to close the gap from 10 sec to 4. We had three others qualify today, but as they are not distance events, I am not very concerned. One is qualified in race walking. Why is this a part of athletics! I thought about either shooting myself or taking a nap during these (boys went 10k, girls 5k). Then I think we had one in the high jump and another in the triple jump. I really don’t know much about these, and I left my “track and field omnibook” in the US… I guess I could use the internet. But we have not equipment to practice the high jump and the triple jump… wow, I don’t know where I would begin! The race walking I would imagine would be like training for running, butas you have noticed I am not a fan of race walking.
I am extremely excited! After the meet they were announcing the qualifiers and they did not call Simon’s name. I was very upset about this. Simon and I talked to Patrick, who then talked to the officials. By the end we had things straightened out and Simon was registered for Thursday.
I do not like how close all these meets are to each other. There is not time to do anything but race and each one has tougher competition. The national championships for primary schools is next week so there is no time for hard work. As my friend Blake Wysocki posted as his status today, “hay is in the barn.”
After the meet I had a woman approach me. She said she is a runner for 5k-half marathon. She said she is looking for sponsorship and funding for races. I told her I am not an agent and I do not have the connections to find her a sponsorship or funding. I told her about my background, exercise science major and teaching and coaching at OLN. I told her I could give her training advice and I have nothing else to offer. She gave me her email address so I can contact her. I will see if I do. I asked Patrick if I should and if she was just trying to scam some money, but I think I will try but not with my normal email. When I asked her about some of her times for various distances and they do not seem farfetched… in fact her 10k and half marathon time correlate to similar ability. If you want to know how I know this, some of you will say “you looked at Daniel’s?” (this is a training book for distance events called “Jack Daniel’s Running Formula” but I used some stuff from Renato Canova (yes, my coaching hero).
This is quite a read so I will end here and write again soon… tomorrow if something interesting happens, but definitely Thursday as we will have another meet.