Team100’s HealthyWomen @ WatamuTriathlon2012

29 Apr

My apartment is the typical, Nairobi bachelorette’s pad. If there’s such a thing. A bachelorette aspiring for greater things. I have kept one hyacinth armchair, with an out-of-place camel in the desert print fabric, that I inherited from a college pal. It doesn’t go with anything else, but I keep it anyway.

This arm-chair is the closest to the living room entrance. The first piece of furniture you encounter when you enter the room. I have been castigated for keeping it. No one likes to sit on it. Too close to the entrance I suppose. Then again, no one can sit on it because most of the week (until Thursday when Mercy comes in to clean) it accommodates yesterday’s brown or turquoise or black handbag, or a piece of reading material; a magazine or two, a flier, my personal note-book, or my sister’s prayer mat and shroud, and when mom visits she places her bag on it too.

On one particular day, I walked in to find a glossy pile of three magazines. On top was a new one I had not seen before. It was the launch issue of a new mag in town.

Now, I have to say I am picky about magazines. I like the heavily sociopolitical/socio-economic content mags like the New African, Africa Business and more recently, The Africa Report. So when I pick up a “girl mag” that boldly expresses it is targeting female audiences, then it had better be good. I like “girl mags” too but my cut off point currently for “girl mags” is The New African Woman.

So this mag on the top of the pile is beckoning. I ignore. I didn’t dump my bag on the seat though. Picked a banana from the bunch hanging by the kitchen window (love a banana at the end of a cycle commute) and stood by the chair eyeing the pile, munching on the banana. The magazine with a high quality print finish on the top of the pile, beckoned still.

Ripping off the plastic sleeve confirmed the quality; thick glossy paper; great content that spoke to the health savvy Kenyan woman with a relatively global outlook; fabulous, well thought out layout and design.

Who done this?!

The editorial page revealed the “culprit”, Atlas International a company based in Dubai, in the Middle East.

Three issues later, the magazine came up in a conversation with three pals also planning to enter the Watamu Triathlon 2012. As the date of the Watamu Triathlon drew near, the  three ladies had been re-evaluating their participation and wanted to make it count for something more than just a personal challenge for each of them. Shecyclesnairobi had come across the 100 Girls In 100 Days campaign on twitter and after a meeting with Sitawa Wafula, established that it fit the ladies’ idea of a worthwhile cause to support. One of the three ladies proposed a partnership with Healthy Woman to raise awareness about the campaign. The ladies re-branded as “Team100”, to raise funds for and awareness about the 100 Girls in 100 Days campaign by ACV-Kenya

Shecyclesnairobi gave the three Triathletes a hand drawing up a proposal, co-signed by the 100 Girls in 100 Days campaign manager Sitawa Wafula. The conversation with the Healthy Woman team was natural, even with short notice – two weeks to the Watamu Triathlon 2012.

The Team100 triathlon sprint relay team went out and “sold” Healthy Woman, and Atlas International gave publicity and money to the 100 Girls in 100 Days campaign. It worked out beautifully.

Those who have done fundraising for any cause, know how difficult it is finding the right partnerships, and convincing corporates to give either in cash or in kind. With the Atlas International peeps, it was not an outright “No!” or “Yes!” but an open door to start small and grow the relationship.

At the triathlon briefing on Saturday, April 21, the girls were nervous, but being first time tri-athletes, they were also excited.

On April 22, 2012 – International Earth Day – the ladies were up by 5 am for breakfast, except Debbie who skipped breakfast altogether. They could hardly eat, and opted for a little cereal and raisins. Then off down to the beach at the starting point to cheer on Debbie for the ocean dash at 6:30 am.

Thanks to the three ladies and Healthy Woman, a new partnership to ensure the girls in North Eastern stay in school has been born!

Wangeci Wanjohi – the 5 kilometres Triathlon Sprint runner – runs every morning and has done several 10 kilometre runs at Karura Forest as well as cycled long distances whenever she could borrow a bike. Wangeci is also a communications practitioner with a local advertising firm.

Wangeci at 5:30 am breakfast.

Velma at breakfast...

Velma Kiome – the 20 kilometers Triathlon sprint relay cyclist – cycle-commutes to work everyday, in the rain or shine, and takes long rides out of town with friends on weekends. Velma, a publishing administrator, is also a SheCyclesNairobi free Ladies Cycling Clinic volunteer. She last cycled for leisure as a teenager and resumed cycling as a way of life late last year.

Velma getting ready to ride... She seemed to want to keep the cap on under the helmet... hmmm...

The bikes set up at the Turtle Bay Beach Hotel tennis courts.

The ladies, Debbie, Wangeci and Velma at the beach shortly before the start of the race.

Wangeci and Velma, long time friends, had begun talking casually about entering the Triathlon last year. Talk of the trithlon was renewed in February 2012 and the search for a swimmer to join the relay sprint team started. A serendipitous encounter with a former Kenya juniour team swimmer yielded Debbies cell phone number. Debbie was immediately sold on the idea.

Debbie Donde – the 750 meters Triathlon sprint relay swimmer – has swam the channel at Fort Jesus once before, but felt more at home in a pool. Debbie, an architect by profession, is also a former junior Kenya team swimming champion. She recently resumed training with the Otters swimming club.

Debbie all set. All the swimmers had to wear a bright yellow regulation swimming cap supplied by the triathlon organizers.

Debbie later reported that the swim out was relatively easier along the current, but the last leg to the shore against the current was tough. She often had to switch to a breast stroke to reduce resistance as the waves hit her arms and upper body.

Velma is all smiles approaching the finish, as the sun begins to heat up the atmosphere in Watamu, on the 20 Km all road cycle course.

The soft, wider, gel saddle saved Velma a lot of real pain. The course though all-road and flat was pretty rough from all the badly done tarmac patchwork and speed bumps, and the dash to the finish was against a strong sea-side head wind that made the ride feel rather uphill. One South African entrant managed to break his expensive time-trial carbon fibre frame when he hit a pothole… five days away from another race in South Africa.

Team 100 came in fourth place out of six in the relay sprint category at the triathlon.

SheCyclesNairobi hails fellow travellers and first-time Olympic distance triathletes – Jasper Grosskurth and Sharrif Shatry. I had to endure 8 hours of travel listening to their masculine chest thumping as they pushed each others buttons; challenging each other to do the Olympic distance, instead of the less hectic  individual sprint.

The macho posturing went on through the briefing session, after the briefing session, and into dinner. Finally, they both agreed to enter the olympic distance, with Jasper modestly declaring he was unsure of his swimming technique in the sea. I encouraged him by reminding him to rely on his strong kick being a cyclist. You should see both Sharrif and Jasper scale the gruelling Thogoto climbs in Kikuyu as if it were a flat course.

Next: The Kilifi Triathlon in September for SheCyclesNairobi. I think I will do the individual sprint.

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4 Responses to “Team100’s HealthyWomen @ WatamuTriathlon2012”

  1. Dr. Myra December 13, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    It was great to have you girls participate in the Watamu Triathlon hope to see you next year. I wish you had mentioned what the t shirts were about, I just thought you were declaring your Healthy Women!!

    H&A also does cycling events at Ngong Forest, please do join us.

  2. FirstLiberty Kenya August 4, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    This is tempting!

  3. FirstLiberty Kenya August 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    This is tempting! Watamu 2014 on my radar!

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