The hobby of jogging: My own experience at Kigali Night Run | The new times
“People often ask me what I think about when I run. Usually the people asking for this have never traveled long distances themselves. I’m still pondering the question,” Haruki Murakami writes in his book.What am I talking about when I talk about running”.
Apparently the author didn’t have a clue, but I guess I’m doing it while running on that black Kigali road. I think passers-by that I call “non-runners” might think that running is crazy.
My beads of sweat roll down my face as I blow out my hot breath and yet my heart faces the situation. I run faster until the eyes of passers-by no longer see me closely. I know what I’m doing – burning calories, recharging my batteries.
Today is Friday, May 13, 2022 at 6:39 p.m. I am near the Gishushu roundabout. Traffic jams have already formed a sign that the real race is about to begin. The road leading to the Parliament is already closed to cars.
This is how we run: slowly and freely, embracing the pleasant air that Kigali draws from the green trees and yellow-flowering flowers – planted in a designated area in the center of the road.
Yes, it’s Kigali Night Run and it’s my first time attending. I heard about it from several sources, but never tasted its exuberant experience. I usually hate jogging when the sun is scorching, but as it is currently sleeping, it is time for me to take control of Kigali’s roads and shine.
I run towards Kigali Convention Center (KCC) and now its lights whose dome has been illuminated in the colors of the national flag which illuminate my face. I think I’ve burned around 25 calories so far, which is good for my health. At this place, the vehicles were also stopped by the police and a clear path was made for me. I feel more important.
Time clock 6:55 p.m. The real departure is scheduled in five minutes. I accelerate, running in the road that passes on the right flank of KCC and in a few minutes, I reach Kigali Heights. Here is a surreal spectacle. The crowd is festive. Electronic Dance Music (EDM), one of my favorite genres, crushes the speakers. A giant screen attached to a stage car features fit people performing different body movements.
On stage, two physical trainers stretch, adapting their movements to the rhythm of the music. Many people in the great culture follow the instructions of the coaches and their faces light up with joy.
I join them as the MC encourages everyone to prepare for the big race. We move our arms towards the head, the shoulders, the toes as well as the knees. Next to me stands a young man who introduces himself as Justin. He’s sweating, but he manages to smile as he talks to me.
“…this is the first time I’ve done this kind of thing, bro. I usually run once in a while,” he told me, breathing heavily. “I enjoy it because it relaxes me. There’s also music, hahaha.”
Justin is fun to chat with. We also do stretches together, but as soon as the MC announces that we are about to start the mass run, we part under a crowd of other participants, all rushing forward, a space facing the Complex KBC.
Most of the stores here are closed. Some people take drinks inside the buildings. Others are leaning on the bridges, watching us, the runners, shouting and running. From KBC we descend to KCC gate, turn right to RBC head office, turn right next to KCC and take the longer route to Kigali Heights, completing the KCC detour. Among us there are people from different sheds; Rwanda, foreign children, adults. I can also see dogs around.
Back at the roundabout, there is a table with a sky blue sheet. Above, bottles of water, ready to be snatched by the runners. Two young volunteers stand behind the table and serve everyone. At the edges of the road stand policemen. One of them is on a walkie-talkie, muttering things I can’t hear.
I choose to sip water and keep jogging. I breathe heavily and it tires me. It’s normal though. It happens to me when I go several months without jogging. It’s been about five months. Some people around me are also walking instead of running. I choose to be better and return to KH. I, along with other people I find here, take another turn towards KCC and when we reach we reverse the path and walk down the road to RBC head office.
I then join the largest group of runners whose singing voices reflect tremendous energy. They run slowly, which makes them easy to follow.
Along the road there are a few other young volunteers providing water for everyone.
When we return to our initial destination, we find other participants in the Kigali Night Run there. The race is over and now some youngsters are riding on their skateboards and shoes, others are taking pictures while others are taking to the water. I talk to a girl who informs me that her name is Aimee. She stretches her legs near a group of men doing push-ups.
“That’s great,” she told me. “I was in Nyamirambo this morning when I received an SMS about this activity. I remembered it was Friday and decided to come.”
“Eeh… but how do you see it?” I ask while pretending to do some stretching too.
“It’s fun. You can run or stretch on your own like that,” she said before moving her body from side to side.
I do the same for a moment before tripping a few centimeters and meeting Jean Claude Niyigena who tells me he is from Kabeza, another suburb. He reveals that this is the second time he has attended Kigali Night Run, having attended the first when Covid-19 was still an illusion.
“This time, he told me, the number of participants has increased. You see, it’s good. I have been working for five days. This sport helps me relax and do what I do very well.”
He then leaves me to talk to his companion. I stretch near the stage before drinking water. It’s already 8:30 p.m. I leave the premises, still sweating but with a relaxed mind.
Returning to Gishushu, I realize that the road is still car-free, allowing it to accommodate my open movements. I’m proud of the runner I’ve become tonight. Blessed is he who imagined this activity which makes the “Kigalians” run at night and reflect on the importance of playing sports. Who am I to miss it next time? Even when my flesh refuses to face, my spirit will be present.
Kigaliians during Kigali Night Run on Friday May 13, 2022.
Sports enthusiasts enjoy jogging during the Kigali Night Run
Sports roller skates during the Kigali Night Race on Friday May 13, 2022.
Mayor of Kigali City, Pudence Rubingisa during the Kigali Night Run.