Nicholas Nangunye’s story is about living out a dream – seizing an incredible opportunity with open arms, a humble heart and rhino-sized determination!
In just two days time this horse-back safari guide from Borana Conservancy in Kenya (where he has worked for 10 years) will be lacing-up a bran new pair of running shoes and taking part in the Virgin London Marathon, raising money for Save the Rhino . It will be Nicholas’s first time travelling away from his home in the district of Laikipia, and away from the much-loved horses on Borana. ‘I am going to the land of the muzungu’s!’ (white people), he tells me, grinning from ear to ear.
I had a chance to chat to Nicholas and was very inspired by this softy spoken, enthusiastic young man.
Nicholas started running in June 2005 for the Borana community team, but it was always something he enjoyed.
‘As a young boy I loved to run, but I didn’t know it was something I could do seriously. I started following the cattle when I was about 8, but now I realise – because of all the support I have had from the Dyer Family and the guests and everyone at Borana who love me – that there are so many things to do. I would like to tell children that they do not have to herd the cattle. If they have support, then they can do a lot of things, even play football and ride motorbikes.’
Me: How are you feeling about London Nicholas? You must be very excited … and a little nervous?
Nicholas: When you are fit then there is nothing to worry about, although I don’t know how fast all the others will be – even the Olympic Champion will be there! But I know that when I wake up in the morning I will feel good. I’m hoping to potentially come about 28th.
(Living and training in the foothills of Mount Kenya, means Nicholas has never run at low altitude before, so who knows what could happen on race day!)
Me: What has been your favourite race so far?
Nicholas: In my very first race, I came 72nd out of 600 people. But my favourite race was Nairobi marathon in 2008, I ran 42km in 2 hours, 50mins. Then in 2012 I did it in 2 hours, 30minutes.
Me: How do you train in all of this rain Nicholas? (The rain is coming down hard as we chat, huddled in a little room near the stables.)
Nicholas: ‘No problem, I run up and down the airstrip where it is not muddy so that the mud doesn’t stick to my shoes. I run at six o clock in the morning (The rain usually starts in the afternoon), so luckily I have already done my running today. This morning I ran 23km in 1 hour, 3 minutes.’
Me: Do you ever run into animals?
Nicholas: A couple of days ago I met a big male lion on the road, luckily a vehicle came behind me and he ran away. But once a buffalo charged me, and I had to climb up a tree, that tree saved my life!
Nicholas has raised over £7000 for Save the Rhino so far, thanks to his supporters. If you would like to make a donation, you can click on the link below http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicholasNangunye and here to find out more about Save the Rhinos.
The marathon, on the 19th April, is in two days time…
Good Luck Nicholas!