Coronavirus brings silence in Nyahururu

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Athletics coach, Robert Kioni weeding a maize plantation at Kauka area of Laikipia County. He has been spending most of the time in the shamba since the sporting activities were stopped after the outbreak of Covid-19. Photo/PD/DAVID MACHARIA

David Macharia

The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has led to the shutdown of sporting activities in Kenya, and with that move, many sports people lost sources of income.

 Many have resulted to doing other things to put food on the table.

 Since March this year, Nyahururu Stadium that used to host tens of runners doing speed work twice a week and drills once a week and several coaches timing laps, has not had any sporting activity.

Part of stadium has since been turned into a temporary vegetable market.

 The athletes were directed by Athletics Kenya (AK) to train individually to avoid grouping as one of the protocols to avoid contacting coronavirus which causes Covid-19 disease.

 So, without the twice a week speed work  training which only takes place in a standard stadium, what have the runners and coaches been doing with their extra free time?

 When I called one of the coaches, Robert Kioni to find out how he was spending his time, he informed me that he was on the farm at a place not far from Nyahururu town. I took a motorcycle boda boda ride to the place.

 When I found the 70-years-plus-old ex-army man turned athletics coach weeding his maize plantation, it dawned on me that Covid-19 had actually pushed athletes and their coaches to unfamiliar territories.

Endurance training

 “I’m regularly working in my farms these days since the sports were stopped,” Kioni said as he removed a layer of the black cotton soil stack in the prongs of the fork jembe he was using.

Marathon runner Esther Macharia (left) and long distance runner Margaret Muringe Wamahiga (right) sells ripe bananas to Solomon Wachira in Nyahururu town last Friday. Photo/PD/DAVID MACHARIA

 Here, he has five acres which he has planted maize in about two and the rest in under wheat.

 He said the land is in an area where runners usually go for fatlek (endurance) training.

 This farm is an area known as Kauka that borders Marmanet Forest, in Laikipia County.

He has other pieces of land in various parts of the County where he grows different crops, including one under tomatoes in Pesi area. He disclosed that before Covid-19, he used to hire people to work on the farms.

 “But now I do it myself since I can’t stay idle. This is a good opportunity for people to practice something else,” Kioni said.

  Back to Nyahururu town, two slim ladies walking agilely carry transparent plastic buckets with fruits in them are crisscrossing the town.

 I catch up with them in one of the town’s streets. These are marathoner Esther Macharia and long distance runner Margaret Muringe Wamahiga.

 The two have been hawking ripe bananas, avocado and watermelon to eke a living.

 “We are trying to get something instead of being idle,” Macharia said.

 They indicated they would go on selling the fruits as their side hustle even after the Covid-19 pandemic is tamed and sporting activities resume.  

 In another street, two youths in track suit and training suits are busy calling for people to buy masks. They buy the masks from a producer and sell at a profit. Each goes for Sh50.

 They at times travel to towns outside Nyahururu like Rumuruti and Kinamba to sell the masks.

Marathon runner Esther Macharia (left) and long distance runner Margaret Muringe Wamahiga (right) sells ripe bananas to Solomon Wachira in Nyahururu town last Friday. Photo/PD/DAVID MACHARIA

 They are upcoming athletes and are too shy to talk to the press or have their photos taken.

 At the back of one of the buildings along Koinange street, Nyahururu town, John Watoro is busy shaving people at a barbershop.

 Watoro is player-coach cum captain of the second division national super league Nyahururu side, Griffon FC.

 “I’m now here (at the barbershop) almost full time since the (soccer) team is not training as it used to following closure of the (Nyahururu) stadium due to outbreak of Covid-19,” he said.

 He said the team training for one hour twice a week at an open ground near River Ngarenaro.

 “At the training, we strictly observe the Covid-19 prevention protocols of hand washing, sanitizing and wearing masks.

We break the team into smaller groups of four players who train for about 15 minutes each group, this way we are able to minimise body contacts” the player coach said.

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