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VC Run 2021: A Run for Impact


A sequel follows up on a previous installment, typically by continuing or expanding the story with the same characters, set further in time. Simple, right? If you’ve ever watched a trailer to a sequel of one your favourite movies, you know the emotional expectations that come with it. On one hand, you would love to see the characters of a film you love back on the big screen. But on the other hand, you really hope they hold the steam of the previous epic story. I recently found myself hoping for a match-up to an adventurous film, well that’s how I found it, an adventurous film – which I took part in towards the end of last year.  I might have lost you there. Walk with me for a short trailer before we get to it, won’t you?

In 2020, when the pandemic had hit hard and families were really struggling to support their sons’ and daughters’ education, Eliud Chemweno, an MBA alumnus and former staff member at Strathmore University Business School (SBS), alongside four others: Jabez Magomere, Linda Omondi, Samuel Ndungu, and James Ndiang’ui, ran an unbelievable 100KM in support of the Strathmore University COVID-19 Educational Relief Fund. Our very own Vice Chancellor Designate, Dr. Vincent Ogutu, did not just grace the momentous occasion. Showing camaraderie and displaying servant leadership, he turned into another Eliud – he ran, cheered his compatriots, drove one of the service vehicles with water and carbs, and momentarily turned into a physio. Basically, a sort of cinematic triumph with an all-rounded character. Now that you’re all caught up, let’s get back to a particular sequel I’d started on.

In a time when Hollywood is cranking out more franchises and sequels, the Strathmore University Foundation in collaboration with the Office of the Vice Chancellor and the Strathmore Student Council, had the brilliant idea to do a special sequel of the 100KM Marathon: The Vice Chancellor’s Run 2021. Who would champion it? This one’s almost too easy… Dr. Ogutu!

You’ve found the right cause if it is a problem you truly care about…

“Because of my upbringing, I have always been interested in solving the poverty question. And I keep saying, you will know you’ve found the right cause if it is a problem you truly care about and which your talents, skills and past experience uniquely position you to do something about. As Frederick Buechner said: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I’d say this is why I’ve decided to be running for a cause. It’s funny how running for me started as a fitness challenge with a couple of friends, and now I’m determined to keep breaking my personal best to give a student at Strathmore the best chance at succeeding in life – through education!” says Dr. Ogutu.

Given the ever burgeoning interest to allow a Stratizen to #keeplearning, nearly a year after the ultramarathon, on the morning of Saturday, 18th September 2021, history was being rewritten by friends of Strathmore who put on their running gear in solidarity.

A special dawn

It is 6.30 a.m and still with the embers of morning darkness and a distant sunrise. Dr. Ogutu and the running group make their way to the Strathmore Sports Complex to assemble for the testing yet fulfilling run of the week. Very few words are spoken, but as we approach the registration table, there is a real buzz in the air. Someone jokes we are slowly getting into the books of great Nairobi marathons, such as the Stanchart one, and we’ll soon have a Strathmore Marathon. Not a bad idea, huh?

Despite the fact that the sun is yet to rise, a crowd of at least 50 – and rising, is already warming up, smoky breath clouds visible in the morning air. It’s an assorted group; master athletes, fitness champions, first-time runners, and passionate supporters. They are all eager to catch the eye by proving they can keep pace with the seasoned runners. Some are just here to give their personal best. This is the #VCRun allure!

The rising sun is now casting a rosy hue across the morning sky and golden fingers of sunlight are lighting up the scene. We are off! Tiny specks of dust seem to dance in the air as the shoes of these runners pound heavily across the ground in rhythmic fashion. I find myself caught in a trance watching the athletes from a service van trailing behind. I can’t help but marvel at the sheer dedication by all who’ve shown up to run for impact. As we leave the Sports Complex, there is soft music in the background. Students are readying their stalls for a “Show ‘n’ Sales” that’ll take place later on. It already promises to be a good day!

A graduation cap and tassel – the route

The 17KM route has been well defined. Did I mention that the run is also going to mark the 17th SU Graduation Ceremony, the first time Dr. Ogutu is presiding over the ceremony while holding the Office of the Vice Chancellor? Back to the 17KM route… Athletes will take the round-about at the Madaraka Junction, head into Lang’ata Road and just past Uhuru Gardens, they’ll take on the Southern Bypass, branch left at Ole Sereni and into Mombasa Road and after the stretch to Nyayo Stadium, they’ll get back to Lang’ata Road and finally cut the tape the Sports Complex. If one was to have a satellite shot of it, they’d see a graduation cap and tassel. Genius! Right?

Traffic and motorists have been great to us this morning. Not so much because of the police escort bike leading us, but maybe they too recognize a #run4impact when they see one. At our first stop to watch the athletes fly by, one runner, drenching in sweat, is miles ahead of the main pack. We cheer him loudly which jolts him and he laughs as he speeds off. We are now at the Southern Bypass. The scenic Nairobi National park and South C skyline simply make this a breathtaking experience. Turning to our right, we see Vincent Ndoloka, Executive Director, Finance. He’s come on to support the cause too! We tease him a little.

Dr. Ogutu’s face is solemn, a picture of concentration, when he passes a minute later, in the company of Anthony Kahindi – the University Secretary, and Prof. Izael Da Silva – the DVC, Research and Innovation. The pack has now picked pace at the homestretch and as we approach Ole Sangale Road at the Madaraka Junction, supporters break into cheers. We speed ahead to capture the excitement, the happiness, and the pride at the finish line. By now, there’s a frenzy at the Complex, more people have gathered, the “Show ‘n’ Sales” tents exude the Strathmore entrepreneurial culture, and Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” is playing.


Just like in those momentous major marathons on TV, time momentarily seems to stop as Dr. Ogutu pulls into the Sports Complex entrance. Then, as if the mute volume in a radio being slowly increased, the crowd noise levels start rising. Some are jumping in excitement as he breaks the finish line tape and hugs his compatriots who’ve been with him this entire time. He’s done it! And with an ever affable smile.

The party’s just started and entertainment soon ensues with a massively befitting cake, snacks, soft drinks, acapellas, and dances. For their noble efforts, the Tropical Heat group, a partner in the #VCRun, awards the runners with various merchandise. The short speeches do not fall short of acknowledging those who’ve ran virtually and those who’ve travelled from as far as Kericho to take part in the fundraising run. What’s more, the Student Council presents a cheque worth KShs 110, 000 raised from the student body, testament of how we continue living up to our motto: Ut Omnes Unum Sint.

Dr. Ogutu has ignited a precise alchemical process of inspiring society into taking transformative actions to impact those who need a hand.  You too can touch the life of a needy stratizen by donating to the scholarship drive here.

Should we make the #VCRun an annual affair?


This article was written by Francis Kabutu.


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