BY MARGARET KENYATTA
We finally did it! After five months of intensive training, finishing Sunday’s London Marathon was the icing on the cake and a most significant achievement in the ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign’s quest for a better future for Kenya’s mothers and children.
We were not chasing any time targets as the bigger goal was to raise money for the purchase of 47 mobile clinics to augment our medical infrastructure and prevent needless deaths of our mothers and children.
But, sincerely speaking, I’m personally elated in the seven hours, five minutes and 28 seconds that it took me and my team to complete the 42 kilometres from the start at Greenwich Park to the finish at The Mall.
I was absolutely overjoyed, as I ran, to learn that our elite stars did it again, with world record holder Wilson Kipsang shattering the course record in his 2:04.29 victory. My biggest kudos to Wilson.
My congratulations too go to our ladies from Iten, Edna Kiplagat and Florence Kiplagat, for completing a sweep of the first two places in the women’s division. You are our true champions and Kenya’s greatest ambassadors.
During my high altitude training in Iten, I was privileged to go on a morning run from the scenic Tambach to Iten with Wilson and Florence and I could see the true Kenyan spirit in them, so I’m hardly surprised that they conquered the world in London.
A big ‘thank you’ to “Team FLOKE”, my office staff, coach Douglas Wakiihuri, medical, media and security teams for the support, for training with me every step of the way and for running along with me on Sunday. Your encouragement kept me going and without you I wouldn’t have made it this far.
My family’s support and encouragement too has been overwhelming. To see my husband, His Excellency the President, my sons and daughter at the finish line along with their grandmother, Her Excellency Mama Ngina Kenyatta, left lasting memories that I will always cherish.
It was always difficult to be away from my family for long periods in training at Sagana, Iten, Eldoret and Kasarani and I truly appreciate their support and understanding, and also their personal contributions and that of their friends and colleagues to the ‘Beyond Zero’ initiative.
But the biggest winners from our effort on Sunday were the country’s mothers and children who stand to benefit from the mobile clinics that we will purchase and the improved medical facilities thanks to our ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign.
I’d like to express my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who has made a contribution to the ‘Beyond Zero’ fund-raising initiative. Asante sana and May God bless you all.
The media has been fantastic and played an important role in highlighting the plight of our mothers and children. Thanks too for following our training for and participation in Sunday’s race.
Finally, I must pay a personal tribute to the Kenyans in the Diaspora led by the Kenyan High Commission team, Members of Parliament, leaders from the County Governments, Cabinet Secretaries and their staff who joined us in London for the final training sessions and cheered us on, along with our hosts, the Virgin London Marathon organising team led by chairman Sir John D. Spurling and race director Mr Hugh Brasher.
It was a tough day, but each time my legs almost turned into jelly, the sight of Kenyan flags along the route and the shouts of encouragement from my fellow Kenyans injected fresh energy in them, and pushed me to complete the 42.195 kilometres.
The end of the London Marathon is only the start of an even bigger marathon to deliver the 47 mobile clinics and make Kenya a better country for our generation and the generations to come.
It is unacceptable that, in this day and age, 5,500 women in Kenya die annually due to pregnancy related complications and the fact that we lose 108,000 children every year before their fifth birthday due to preventable causes is equally disturbing.
We had to do something to address this worrying situation. This is why we chose the ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign whose aim is to ensure that we eliminate these unnecessary deaths to beyond zero. We are halfway through towards our target and every shilling you contribute counts.
Thank you all for joining me in this race. Together, we can create a better Kenya, and a better world. Asanteni sana and may God bless you all and bless our beautiful country, Kenya.
(Margaret Kenyatta is Kenya’s First Lady)