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Deputy President William Ruto’s challenge to President Uhuru Kenyatta to run the five-kilometre race at next year’s Beyond Zero Marathan instead of the two-kilometres edition was not the first time he was asking him to improve on his fitness. During the 2014 edition, ‘Mchokozi’ William challenged the President to hit the gym to keep fit.

On Sunday, Dr Ruto told him the president had no chance but to run for five kilometres, saying the shortest edition is for expectant mothers. At the Beyond Zero Marathon, the five-kilometre race is a Family Fun Run.

“Today, I want thank the First Lady in a very special way go giving me the opportunity to run 21 kilometres and I now have had a new personal best of 2:4:122. Na hiyo ni mzuri sana,” Dr Ruto said after finishing the Beyond Zero Marathon on Sunday. “But You Excellency in this race, I represented the presidency in the 21 kilometres and we did well. The First Lady represented the presidency in the 10 kilometres and she did well. But we didn’t have a representative in five kilomeres and two kilometres.”

“And I want to thank your sir in a very special way for agreeing that next year, you will consider representing the presidency in the remaining two race. But there is a small problem Sir. The one you were trying to say that maybe you will start with two kilometres, I am told it is for expectant mothers,” Ruto told the President.

President Uhuru Kenyatta admires First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s media after she completed the half marathon at Sunday Beyond Zero Marathon. Credit: Uhuru Kenyatta/Facebook.

“So, eeh…I don’t think you want to go and race with expectant mothers. So…you have no choice but to go and start with five kilometres. Si hiyo rais amekubali hadharani…nanma hiyo (Hasn’t the president publicly…that is how things should be,” he added.

Ruto has previously challenged the President to hit the gym in order improve his fitness levels . During the Beyond Zero marathon three years ago, he ran five kilometres and revealed he does 10 kilometres on the treadmill in the gym.

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When he rose to speak, the President reluctantly took up the challenge to laughter from those Nyayo National Stadium. “Kwa hayo machache na mengi, mchokozi William, mwaka ujao mimi nilitakimbia eeh nilikuwa nafikiria hiyo ya kilomita mbili lakini umeningilia sana. Basi minimum five lakini tutaona kama tutajaribu tena?” he said amid laughter.

Three years ago, Ruto had revealed he had bought the President running pants and expressed hope he was to start training. “I have harassed him to go to the gym, and I think he will be beginning soon, which is very good. Some people bought him shoes, I bought him a pair of running pants, and I am sure he now has no choice. The First Lady is putting a lot of pressure on him, and I am sure very soon he will cave in,” added the DP.

However, with Uhuru initially electing to run for two kilometres even as his deputy covers 42 kilometres it would appear his efforts never paid off. Whether he will take up the five-kilometre race, let alone finishing, therefore, remains to be see.

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Unlike the President, First Lady Margaret Kenya has been running every year since the Beyond Zero Marathon was launched. The First Lady made history after completing the 42Km at the Virgin Money London Marathon in a time of 7 hours 4 minutes in April last year. She ups her training in the lead-up to the Beyond Zero Marathon waking up every morning at State House, Nairobi to hit the road.

Uhuru is, however, a permanent fixture at the Beyond Zero Marathon to receive the First Lady and travelled to the London Marathon when she made a historic appearance.

With the President finally agreeing to run in the Beyond Zero Marathon, Kenyans would love to see him joined on the road by other senior figures such as Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Fred Matiang’i.

Just like in other sports, apart from appropriate training, it also takes a healthy diet (and keeping off drugs) as well as proper gear to be a successful marathoner. However, some people are naturally inclined to succeed in marathon running.

Writing for sciencewold.ca, Kate MacDonald says some people possess a certain combination of genes that are responsible for remodeling muscle fibres to allow blood vessels to grow in between them. She adds that the increased amount of blood vessels results in more efficient oxygen delivery, which makes high-intensity aerobic exercise, like running, easier.

That could explain why only athletes from certain regions – mainly highlands – are super good in marathon running.

This is perhaps why Ruto was able to make remarkable feat of joining the small fraction of the world’s population that has completed a full marathon! The fact that he is a teetotaler also helps.

For the President, he needs to start going to the gym to work on his fitness if he is to successfully five kilometres at next year marathon. One’s success on the track and field event could also be dictated by body type. MacDonald says some experts believe that tall, slender people are typically better at sprinting, while shorter light people tend to excel at long distance running.

According to rein.com, one needs to hydrate well for several days by drinking a big glass of water before going to bed the night before race day and another one first thing in the morning. One should also keep at a simple, high-carbohydrate breakfast several hours before the start of the race. Bagels, oatmeal, bars and fruit all work well.

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A participant should also lather up with a little Vaseline or BodyGlide in any areas vulnerable to chafing and not overdress as temperatures are apt to rise over the course of the race. If really cold at the start, wear an oversize trash bag over your clothing to keep warm until the starting gun goes off.

Get to the starting line early, and if needed, get in the port-a-potty line 30–40 minutes before the official start time as the lines may be long.

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