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La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012)

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La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Empty La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012)

Post  KBFitz on Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:03 am

Very brief Brief
Challenging closed-loop four lap criterium course. Well managed event. Small field, dominated by Kenyans [37 of the top 50 hailed from Kenya]. Despite being reduced to walking on the steeper grades in the last ten miles, I met my time goal, took my age group [but there were only two of us!] and really enjoyed myself. Two thumbs up. La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Thumb_10 La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Thumb_10

Full Report

Course Review: Map and Elevation Profile
The International Peace Marathon—Kigali is a serious regional race in East Africa. The event has been organized since the inaugural race in 2005 by Soroptimist International Europe (a Women’s Association) under the leadership of the Rwanda Ministry of Sports and Culture and the Rwanda Athletic Federation. Race web site: http://www.kigalimarathon.com/CMSPage.aspx?lng=EN

It follows a closed-loop criterium course of four quarter-marathon circuits (6.55mile/10.55km), each starting and finishing on the track at Amahoro [Peace] Stadium. The event features four races: a marathon; a marathon relay (teams of four runners each running one circuit); a semi (half) marathon (two circuits) and a 5km fun run. Known as the land of a thousand hills - and a million smiles - Rwanda's premier marathon features plenty of both. A course map (with the four aid stations in red stars) and an elevation profile are shown below.


La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali11

In words, each quarter-marathon circuit begins on the track and heads out of the stadium at Gate 5, passes through the stadium access road to the main gate onto the road down to Vers Kibungo [also known as Boulevard de l’Umuganda], down the hill at 4-5% grade for half a mile and continues down to the turnaround, about 40 meters short of the first access road to the MTN Centre in the Nyarutarama neighborhood. After the turnaround, it’s back up the hill for a tour of the Remera neighborhood and back to the stadium, but not without another quarter-mile rise at 3-4% on the way thrown in for good measure.


La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali18
The elevation profile may not be displayed. If so here is a direct link:
https://i.servimg.com/u/f44/16/64/98/30/kigali18.jpg

La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali13
All things considered, this is a challenging to difficult course. If gradients in the range of ±1% are considered flat, the course is roughly 1/3 ascending, 1/3 flat and 1/3 descending with over 1,000 feet of climbing and the same descending. At nearly a mile high and under race day conditions [18°C/64°F in fog (dewpoint 18°C/64°F) at the 7:24am start rising to 23°C/73°F by 10:00am—roughly average for the end of May in Kigali] this course promises to punish any athlete who has not trained on hills at altitude under similar conditions. Fortunately, I had been running on these roads for a few weeks and knew this.

My goal
When I arrived in Kigali in late April, I was not in training to run a marathon. But I was in decent shape. My recent races indicated that even without proper marathon-specific training, I should be able to run a marathon in about 3:15 on an honest course under favorable conditions. [I rank courses as fast, honest, challenging and difficult in increasing levels of difficulty.] So I jumped at the chance and signed up. Now, as you’ve seen, this is certainly a challenging course (and a difficult one in hot and humid conditions). What’s more, I had a full week of fieldwork ahead. I didn’t want to put that work in jeopardy by going all-in at the marathon distance. So in the week before the race, I took a minute per mile off a 3:15 marathon pace (7:26/mile) and aimed to finish under 3:40 (8:24/mile) or 55 minutes per 6.55 mile circuit.

Race Day
I slept through my alarm, waking only to the muezzin’s call to prayer at 5:30 … for a 7am race. Somewhat alarmed, I still took the time to eat a gooseberry muffin with two freshly brewed cups of fine Rwandan heirloom bourbon coffee that is at once sweet and deep with delightful citrus notes.

La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali10 La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali11

Off to this auspicious start, I went to find a moto taxi for the five-mile ride to Amahoro Stadium. On weekdays, I can find a moto taxi within two minutes at this time of day. But this was a Sunday and none were to be found. It took me nearly 15 minutes and an uphill run to find a driver. We set out at 6:39am and arrived at the stadium at 6:50am.


No worries. This is East Africa. Runners and volunteers were milling about with no hint of organization for the start. I had plenty of time to remove my warm-up gear and find a delightful Soroptimist member to safeguard my bag. Seraphim was a volunteer at the 3rd aid station. In addition to taking custody of my belongings, she cheered me on when the going got tough in the 3rd and 4th circuits. Land of a million smiles, indeed. I was also able to chat up fellow runners from the US, Kenya & Rwanda. Some of these Kenyans looked (and were) finely tuned. But the pre-start atmosphere was as relaxed and non-competitive as it is at most ultra-marathons in the US.

The Race
Eventually, we were herded out of the stadium and then walked back in to the start line in a somewhat controlled fashion (marathoners and relay marathoners first, followed by semi-marathoners with fun runners bringing up the rear). No initial remarks. No address. No national anthem. Something was said through the stadium speakers, but it was as intelligible as an announcement on a New York City subway train—nada. The fast guys toed the line and … in less than two breaths … the gun was fired … just before 7:25am.

1st circuit
So, we’re off and running out of the stadium and down the road toward the first steep downgrade. I’m cruising and all these young guys around me are running like it’s a 10K race! A quick glance at my watch and we’re running at 6:09/mile pace. Oops! La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Dontknow I did ease up, of course. But it took me a while as I was getting to know some of the other runners. Some were in the relay and some were semi-marathoners, but quite a few of the marathoners were breathing harder than they should be so early in a long race. On the way back up the steep hill I gave my water to a young local woman who was running the marathon. She appeared to be putting in more effort than she could sustain over the long haul. We stayed together though the end of the first circuit in the stadium, crossing the start/finish line (6.55 miles) in 47:41 (7:17/mile). Way too fast. Doubly so given the challenging nature of the course.
But I was having fun! La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Dancing
That’s what counts, no?

For reference, three groups of lead marathon runners completed their first circuits in 32:56, 33:16 and 33:41 (5:02, 5:05 and 5:09/mile, respectively). Here are images of these three groups at the 6.55mile/10.55km mark—fastest first.

La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali12
2610 Peter MUTITU KEN 4th 2:17.37—2623 DNF—2596 Victor CHELOKOI KEN 9th 2:18.35—2634 DNF

La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali13
2578 Frederic HABKURAMA RWA 12th 2:21.08—2475 DNF—2650 Nicolas LIMO KEN 24th 2:30.42

La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali14
2640 James KABOGOR KEN 6th 2:17.43—2657 DNF

Paul KOSJEI of KENYA won the marathon in 2:14:56 (5:09/mile). He may be the tall man in red singlet and blue shorts immediately behind and off the left shoulder of semi marathoner 1251. [His name is likely Paul KOSKEI--KOSJEI is likely a typographical error.]


2nd circuit
As I crossed the start/finish line to begin the second circuit way ahead of my 55 minute per circuit goal, I knew it was going to get ugly. The only question was when? I was feeling good, but eased up nonetheless. I was in cruise mode much of the second circuit, taking bananas and water from the aid stations and generally feeling quite at ease.

Then in Remera, with about 2 miles to go to the start/finish line at the half marathon point, a young local semi-marathoner started to shadow me. Close. He got so close we grazed elbows a few times. It was as though he was using a crowding tactic that is sometimes deployed in races on the track. I couldn’t figure it out. Look, I’ve been around the block once or twice and I’ve experienced the broad spectrum of cultural differences regarding personal space. But this was something completely different. Perhaps this was his first half marathon, I thought—he was entering that delirium of exhaustion that runners know in the last few miles of a race and wanted to latch onto someone who was running comfortably. I don’t know. But the crowding was totally unnecessary on a wide-open course and after a few minutes it became annoying.


So I began to weave, so to speak. I went to the curb on the left. He went to the curb on the left. I went wide right. He went wide right. At one point I remarked, “what’s wrong with you?” He understood and answered, “yeah, what’s wrong?” After a couple of iterations, I’d had enough. I moved sharply to the right, behind him, clipping his heel with my shin. He went down. Not hard mind you, but down nonetheless. We were both startled. I helped him up and on we went. After that, he backed off a bit and I resigned myself to running to the half marathon finish with him. After a few minutes I noticed he had produced a handkerchief and was wiping his knee with it while running. I didn’t see any blood, but the fall had obviously scraped his knee. I gave him what was left in my bottle of water and that may have helped. He retrieved several bananas from the last aid station and gave me one. As we passed the main gate of the stadium with 700 meters to go to his finish line I bid him to bring it home strong. He gave it a good effort but was really cooked. As it turned out, his strange behavior was due to the delirium of exhaustion and inexperience after all. I waved and smiled as I crossed the line … ahead of him. ‘Twas a bizarre episode, but benign in the end.

I completed the half marathon in 1:39:35. So my second circuit was run in 51:54 (7:55/mile), still faster than my 55 minute per circuit (8:24/mile) goal pace. My wheels hadn’t come off yet, but it was only a matter of time. The haze had burnt off but the relative humidity was still at 100% and the temperature had risen to 20°C/68°F.

3rd circuit
Less than a mile into my third circuit, as I was starting the ½ mile descent of Vers Kibungo, the leaders were on my heels (on their final circuit). It was a thing of beauty when the three leaders passed, all with perfect running form. They were working, no doubt. But their stride was so graceful it seemed effortless as the tick-tick-tick of their soles on the pavement knocked out a sub 5:00 pace on the descent. I was overtaken by at least 20 runners in the ½ mile descent, all on their final circuit. At stake were cash prizes for the top ten runners, starting with US$ 2,500 (1.4 million Rwandan Francs) for first place.

Now it’s all fine and good to marvel at the grace and ease displayed by elite athletes as they blow by you at 5:00/mile when you’re struggling to hold an 8:00/mile pace. But it does take something out of you. I was beginning to feel it. My wheels weren’t coming off, mind you. But I was beginning to feel that it would be nice to be finished.

So in mile 16, just past the turnaround aid station and two hours into the race, I walked for the first time. My race was over. La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Whewhy0 I entered conservation mode—from here through the end, I would jog the steeper uphill grades, taking brief walking breaks, jog the flats and run down the hills. Within a few minutes, I was passed by the young American guy on the World Vision team who I met before the start. He was looking good but definitely feeling it too. On the way back up the steep hill I was passed by several runners, some of whom were also taking walking breaks. The second aid station (on the hill) was out of water, so a banana did the trick. I got a very welcome bottle of water and cheers from Seraphim and her crew at the third aid station—clearly my favorite. After thanking them, I asked, “does it hurt yet?" That got plenty of smiles.

Having eased up, I felt pretty good. And that was just alright with me. After the tour of the Remera neighborhood, I re-entered the stadium and had to work through the crowd of finished half-marathoners, fun runners and onlookers on the track. It wasn’t too difficult. They were all having fun. But I had another circuit to do. I crossed the start/finish line for the third time (19.66 miles/31.65km) at 2:39:01. So it took me 59:26 (9:04/mile) to complete my third circuit. Easy peasy. But by then, the temperature had risen to its high for the day, 23°C/73°F. Mercifully, the dewpoint was unchanged at 20°C/68°F.

4th circuit
Well … it wasn’t much to write home about. I stayed in conservation mode, gladly accepting a bottle of water from Japanese onlookers at the bottom of Vers Kibunga. I took a banana (and water when available) from each aid station and just kept moving. By the way, the bananas are the small, fat local ones and are much tastier than the bananas we’re used to in Europe or America. The event is run on the last weekend in May, at the end of the rainy season. It had rained just about every day in May around midday or early afternoon. This day was no exception. A light rain began at about 10:45am, when I was 2 miles from the finish. It picked up and was providing some welcome relief by the time I re-entered the stadium just after 11:00am. I crossed the line at 3:38:51 (11:03am) in a rain shower. A Soroptimist race official placed a marathon medal around my neck.


La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali15

My last circuit took 59:50 (9:08/mile) and I was pleased to be finished. La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Clapping

Post Race
The awards ceremony was underway under the stadium canopy by 11:00am. Due to the rain, the Olympic-style podium on the field went unused. I tried to hear the Master of Ceremonies and see the champions, but it was very difficult from the track.

La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali16

So, I extended my arms wide and took the rain full on. It was very soothing. I then went to look for food. Just then the clouds burst and the torrent began. Volunteers at the post-race food station in the stadium took cover. And you know what happened next, don’t you? Oh wait … you don’t. Here’s an image of the refreshment station before the race.

La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Kigali17

Now you know. … The boys who had gathered at the gate had a field day! In a furious feeding frenzy, they raided everything. Once the swarm sees an opening, there’s nothing you can do. A security guard tried to get things back under control, but gave up as it was fruitless. Within a minute or two, so was the refreshment station! I got there when the last of the bananas were being pillaged. I expressed my dismay and pointed toward a box held by one of the urchins. It had a full bunch of bananas. He was pleased to give me some of his pillaged booty. I gladly took one and thanked him. They’re not urchins really. They’re well-mannered young men hungry for opportunity. They took this one. But they’re good kids. Sadly, there was nothing left for anyone finishing the marathon after 3:45. Such is life.

Race Recap
I aimed to finish under 3:40 and did so (at 3:38:54 on the race clock). Even though I was in conservation mode from mile 16 onward, I’m pleased with my performance. What’s more, I was fresh for the fieldwork that commenced the next day. So I’m even more pleased. And to top that, I took my age group. But there were only two of us in the male 50-54 group. Watering this 'victory' down even further, the oldest competitor and sole proprietor of the male 55-59 group, Paul Reinhold from Germany, beat me by 7 minutes. So it’s no big woo.

Course difficulty
This was my 21st marathon … and my most difficult to date. As stated above, I rank courses as fast, honest, challenging and difficult in increasing levels of difficulty. On this informal scale, I rate this course as challenging to difficult. Like Boston, this is a challenging technical course. If you run the first half of Kigali or Boston too fast, either course will make you pay. I paid the price in Kigali—reduced to conservation mode for the last ten miles. Unlike Boston, it would be very hard for a marathon veteran to run a PR or PB (Personal Record or Best time) in Kigali. Hence, I rank this course challenging to difficult.

Event organization, execution, support and the runners’ experience
I give the International Peace Marathon—Kigali two thumbs up. La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Thumb_10La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Thumb_10

Registration was a breeze, handled online from Belgium. State-of-the-Art electronic timing with the chip in the bib was an unexpected surprise for such a small race (101 runners finished the marathon). The race was well marshaled and there were plenty of spectators at critical points. Runner hydration needs were amply met by the 4x4 aid stations placed evenly throughout the 26.2 mile route. Finally, the hospitality and initiative of the volunteers at aid stations and in the stadium was second to none. Kudos to all who came out in support of this event.

The four lap criterium course anchored on the track at Amahoro Stadium was a delight to run for three reasons. First, we average runners are able to run with elites and sub-elites, briefly at least, when we get lapped. Second, one gets to know fellow runners by seeing them enroute to the turnaround and this makes for good camaraderie. Finally, starting and finishing on the track in the national stadium is a real emotional boost for the athletes and makes it easy for spectators to view the race.

The bottom line
While you won’t run a personal best time here, you will have a good time.
Highly recommended. La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Thumb_10La 8è édition du Marathon International de la Paix [8th International Peace Marathon]—Kigali, Rwanda (27/05/2012) Thumb_10


Links:
THE New Times—Kenyans Sweep Honors by Ostine Arinaitwe, 28 May 2012:
http://allafrica.com/stories/201205280302.html


Full Results:
http://fla.lu/2012/120527/results_kigali-marathon_almk.pdf


All Race Images:
http://www.psweb.org/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=431


Last edited by KBFitz on Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:41 pm; edited 11 times in total (Reason for editing : completeness)
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Post  ounce on Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:37 pm

Good times, Kevin. Gratz on a one of a kind experience. Thank you for the well written piece.

But you may know what I'm going to ask next. How many times did your garmin (or Nike) run you off the mountain?
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Post  KBFitz on Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:39 pm

Thanks oz.

My Forerunner and my MotoACTV behaved themselves remarkably well. At least they didn't trip anybody! In fact, the Route map that I open with displays my Forerunner data in SportTracks. There were no tall buildings and no dense cover on course. It was open sky the whole way. So GPS tracking shows few artifacts. As expected, the total distances reported by the Forerunner and the MotoACTV were 26.40 and 26.45 miles, respectively. But we know why that is, don't we?
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Post  fostever on Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:49 pm

Great report, Kevin, thoroughly enjoyed it! Way to stick the goal time. Ahhh, the picture of the kids raiding the aid station pricked my heart, puts things in perspective. Thanks for the world view from your current location.
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Post  amyjoann on Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:06 pm

thanks for a great report along with pictures. I felt like I ran it with you,great experience !
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:23 pm

Very cool, Kev. Can't wait to get the lowdown on this whole experience when I see you in November.
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Post  Mark B on Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:08 pm

Nice report, and a nice race, Kevin! Thanks for the photos, especially!
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Post  Dave Wolfe on Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:22 pm

Cool race, great report. Sounds like a tough experience but a memorable one.
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Post  Chris M on Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:25 pm

Wow - what an all-time great life experience being over there and getting to be in an event like that. That medal sure should get a better place of honor than some run of the mill Rock n Roll thing! What the heck is an soroptimist? When are you coming back home? You gonna be back in time for our annual two fer of Crystal City/Vienna 5k/10K? So looking forward to meeting up and hearing more about your adventures.

Check out the bio of the winner. Former world champion in the half marathon and world XC and former world record holder in the 25k.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Malakwen_Kosgei
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Post  Jerry on Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:34 pm

Cool experience. Kevin's next is great wall with Jerry. Very Happy
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Post  Chris Coleman on Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:00 am

I enjoyed reading every word. What a great experience! And a good performance for a race like that.
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Post  wrichman on Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:31 am

This looks and sounds like such an amazing experience! And to watch the elites run by like that must have be awesome as well. This is a perfect example of how running can really create new experiences and enrich our lives. Congrats!
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Post  mountandog on Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:26 pm

Kev - I am jealous. What a fabulous experience. Great run!!
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