Wawuda kept running along the windy Kersei mountain road, Nairobi, breathing heavily and fixing her gaze at the distance ahead. Her stopwatch counted down the time as the cold wind blew across the road. It was a chilly Saturday morning and Nairobi was just beginning to wake up from its slumber.
She spotted him.
He was running across the other side of the road wearing a sleeveless jersey atop dark shorts and white sneakers, an airpod stuck in his right ear. He suddenly turned and gazed at her, flashing a bright smile.
Wawuda’s stomach tightened and the familiar pleasant feeling came over her.
“Stop and say hi to him”
A thought flashed through her mind.
“No, keep running, focus on the task at hand”
Another thought countered.
“Hi, handsome, I am running to you”
Another voice echoed in her mind.
She has been seeing him running along the route every morning for the past week that she has been exercising and practising for participation at the Cape town Marathon in South Africa. There was something intriguing about the handsome man that always made her want to stop and chat with him. He had the brightest smile she had ever seen and seemed to be an athlete just like her.
Wawuda got to the endpoint drenched in sweat. She quickly opened her backpack and removed a white towel to wipe off the sweat while her finger rummaged inside the bag to fetch her bottle of glucose water. She moved and sat at the wide base of a fallen tree trunk to catch her breath and rest for a while before making the return race to the start point.
She looked around and saw him running towards her with a look of determination on his face.
He got to the endpoint and stooped, resting his palms on his knees, panting for breath.
“That was a good run!” He spoke out loud and turned to her.
“Hello there? How are you doing?” The smile on his face was contagious.
“I am good, you wanna take a rest?” Wawuda asked with a shy smile.
“Yeah, definitely!” He replied as he sat beside her on the tree trunk, and continued, “My name is Chege and I like running into you every day here”
Wawuda giggled, “I like it too. I am Wawuda, an athlete, preparing for a marathon”
“Nice name!” Chege replied and “I am keeping fit for the Olympics trial coming up next month but I must confess that I was actually running to you today,” He said in a conspiratorial tone to her.
Wawuda laughed out loud. She was enjoying his company so much and felt so relaxed and at home with him. From a close range, he looked even more handsome than from a distance.
They chatted animatedly and they felt like they had known each other right for years.
“I believe I can clock the fastest time and become the 200m record holder in the world. That will fetch me the Olympic gold and I would write my family’s name in gold” Chege said in a confident tone.
“Yes, it is very achievable and I believe in you,” Wawuda said softly.
They sat in silence for a while and then Chege took up Wawuda’s right palms in his, lightly stroking it and said to her, “I don’t know why but things are happening so fast between us and I like it! There’s something about you that draws me to you…and, I like you a lot!”
“Aww….I like you too” Wawuda whispered.
“Do you wanna listen to some music?” Chege asked, offering her one of his AirPods.
She took it from him and placed it in her left ear.
“…Running, running, running to you
I’ll be running to you
Running, running, running to you
Anywhere that you go to
I’ll be running to you…”
“This is my favourite track at the moment” Wawuda exclaimed excitedly.
“Me too! Running to you by Chike featuring Simi is so smooth and lovely”, Chege stated and continued, “My car is parked at the starting point, can we go there so that we can drive off for breakfast?”
“Great idea! Let’s go!”
They began running off, this time, side by side.
“It feels so good running with you” Chege exclaimed.
“Yeeeeeah!” Wawuda replied in an excited tone with adrenaline coursing through her veins.