Residents of Nyandarua have been advised to embrace an active lifestyle to stay healthy by engaging in sports.
The wise counsel was issued by 71-year-old Gideon Mutahi Githaiga who, to the amazement of many, participated in the 10km senior men’s race against elite runners during the Central Region Cross Country Championships in Ol Kalou town at the weekend.
The competition brought together competitors from Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kiambu, Kirinyaga and Murang’a.
A team of 36 athletes was selected to represent the region in national championships but it was Githaiga who stole the show as fans went wild cheering him on as he battled elite runners like Bedan Karoki who is a medalist at world level.
The old man appeared to enjoy clearing obstacles along the 2km route as he jumped over a tree log, one of the several obstacles placed on the way, with ease.
However, midway in the race, he seemed to ‘feel the weight of his vest’ and he took it off and hung it around his neck before discarding it all together.
Among those cheering him on were Nyandarua County Commissioner Benson Leparmorijo and officials from the participating counties led by Nyandarua Sports executive Maryann Gathigia.
Githaiga says he runs regularly when he is not working in his farm.
He said running helps his blood circulation, making him feel younger.
“I feel good and I can jump any hurdle,” he said after the race.
The old man added that engaging in sport has helped him avoid lifestyle diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.
“I eat everything and drink tea with sugar. Doctors says my pressure is like that of a 30-year-old,” he said.
The teetotaler advises the youth to avoid alcohol and indiscipline if they are to enjoy a healthy life.
“I get surprised when I meet a man aged 40 years but appears like a 90-year-old because of drinking “kalikali” (cheap brews),” the old man said.
High humidity during the race saw many runners drop out but Githaiga soldiered on to the end despite being lapped several times by the elite athletes.
He said since leaving school at Class Seven in Nyeri in 1967, he has engaged in active life.
Out of his many children, Githaiga said, only one daughter, Nancy, is an athlete at local level.