442: Race to the finish...

By lara, lara@trippingonwords.com


The monsters have really taken it out of us recently. It’s been chaos around here, and not particularly well managed chaos, I hate to admit.


It’s started to sink into our consciousness that we’re leaving in a few weeks, and so the kids are starting to figure out that they can get away with a little bit more than normal. Edwin, for example, came in bleeding (or he had been bleeding…the event had definitely passed) in order to milk us for not one, but two Viactiv multi-vitamin chocolate “sweeties.” The professor similarly showed up begging us for candy, and even turned his “professor eyes” on me, and ended up also winning a chocolate vitamin. By this point, Edwin had returned to knock and lodge another complaint: “I am feeling cold.” I was honestly at a loss. So was I, I informed him.


Because it is here. Cold. My body is particularly thrown off, as it’s all sunburnt, or at least every part that’s seen the sun from my modest Kenyan clothing. This means really my neck and my nose. But it was a long weekend outside, playing field games with the kids, and running a race or two.


Because this past weekend was the Very First Annual Hope Runs Olympics and 5K and 10K Race/Walk-A-Thon. Over 130 urphans participated and we had quite a few prizewinning performances. With 10.4K times of well under forty minutes, we were happy with our boys, and similarly impressed with our girls who dominated and finished in large numbers. Not to be overshadowed, Omindo also beat a few more kids than normal in an attempt to snatch my Cairo-imported nightgown after the clothing relay race, and the entire 2nd standard class is now addicted to dizzy bat. And by addicted, we mean that we keep forcing them to play for our own entertainment.


We were pleasantly surprised by what these kids brought to the race. Most of them agreed to wear sneakers, and a lot of them participated or at least passed out oranges. Belonging much more to the completion-as-win school of thought, Claire and I were shocked to see what these kids would do in a competitive environment. Even the littles were seized with the fever, and came loping to the finish actually out of breath for once. Which was inspiring.


No doubt, however, the highlight came when the tall and lanky Man About Highschool/Football Star had a finish line showdown with little Rhoda, Queen of the Smallest Monsters. Her Majesty’s running style over these last months can be characterized as temperamental at best. She’s a strong little tyke, and willful as heck, so when she’s good she’s very very good, but when she’s bad, she’s lazy. There’s a lot of “Rhoda, why aren’t you running?” followed by even more of the “my legs are paining, my shoes are untied, my face feels funny, my dress is silly, nothing nothing nothing” school of response. Usually these issues arise only after she’s physically dragged us out on the road for the run she swears she will complete this time.


So imagine our surprise when Her Majesty, dressed in her raggediest formerly-known-as-white Easter dress, came sprinting at FULL speed down the last 400m stretch. Within seconds we found out the reason. The Queen, at her full 3.5-foot glory was racing to stay ahead of the Football Star. She was finishing a 5K, and he a 10K, but at the finish line it just became a dead on sprint by both…she to hold him off, he to overtake.


She won, with tinsely gold finish line around her neck just a nose ahead of the Football Star. He didn’t look pleased, and he didn’t look like he let it happen, though within seconds that was the rumor going around.


Ha. We have it on tape. It made the event, and when our internet works, we’ll share the love…



1 comment:

Karen said...


I just picked up Runner's World and the first story I read was an incredibly inspiring story about a girl named Lara Vogel who started a fantastic NGO in Kenya. I read the whole story and saw your picture and just as I put it down, it occurred to me... Hey.. that's Lara Vogel!! (For some reason I always picture you as a 2 year old with beautiful curly hair that everyone calls "Lori-O") Anyway, I just had to write and say, "you are awesome!" What a wonderful thing you're doing in Africa. And as a runner myself , I love that you're using running to do so much good. I just ran a marathon yesterday in Boone, NC. Can't wait to do the next one. Let me know if you're ever in Virginia and want to go for a run!

Best Always,
Karen Ditzler

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