Fresh off running a grueling 5kms with some steep climbs and rocky terrain, Form 4 student Baraka couldn’t believe he finished in the top 30 at the international contest.
The 17-year-old proudly spoke of his Kilimanjaro Marathon run, where he was met with cheering crowds in a packed out stadium as he crossed the line in 22nd place, ahead of 678 other competitors. “It was really tough; I’ve never run such a long distance but it was a really good experience. I was able to see some of the professional athletes compete, they are very inspiring. Some of the winners even sprinted most of the way. We have been training hard but the hills and mountains today were particularly challenging,” Baraka explained, punctuated by heavy breaths.
13 secondary students from St Jude’s rose before dawn to pound the pavement, with the massive mountain making for the perfect backdrop to test their limits. Competing alongside their teachers and against the best from across Africa, their impressive results are a credit to their commitment and training.
Form 2 student Lucas crossed the line in 13th position, Baraka was the 22nd arrival and Form 1 student Jenipher secured the 31st spot.
Each student competitor credited their extensive training in the lead up to the event, where they trained for an hour a day, with no excuses!
For Form 4 student, Happiness, running 5km would have only been a dream if not for the specialised training program.
“We are used to doing smaller races, metres instead of kilometres, 100m or 200m for example. We need to work on speed more. It’s teaching us about determination and hard work,” Happiness said red-cheeked from her run.
Students also praised the adrenaline from the crowd, who cheered them through some tough conditions that even challenged the most advanced runners.
“The steep hills and mountains were definitely the hardest part. We also had to dodge a lot of runners competing over different distances but the cheering crowds made you forget about the pain,” Happiness shared.
The marathon event, which also has a 21km and 5km distance, is part of the school’s Vocational Skills program that includes athletics, basketball, football and volleyball programs run by the Vocational Skills department teachers. All are part of helping St Jude’s students achieve outside the classroom, as well as inside it.
“I really hope to continue with my running and it can complement my studies,” a beaming Baraka added.
The school’s staff also tried their luck at the brutal half marathon, completing 21kms around the base of Mount Kilimanjaro.
St Jude's Photographer, Onesmo Daniel, was amongst them and crossed the finishing line in just under three hours.
“We didn’t do as much training as last year, so I was getting a little tired, but I am proud. We actually started late so the biggest challenge was catching up to other competitors, but with my final position I overtook 1,000 people. It was so nice to see our students there and I hope next year they can run the 21kms for the extra challenge,” Onesmo smiled.
Tanzanian Athlete, Emmanuel Giniki, won the overall half marathon gold medal finishing the course in an incredible 1hr 3mins, in front of the home crowd.
But after a champion effort by our secondary students and staff, could Emmanuel have a future fierce competitor in someone from St Jude’s?
“I don’t see myself quitting my day job and becoming a professional but for the students I can see that because they are strong competitors, they have big futures ahead,” Onesmo laughed.
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