Big Blue’s formal arrival in Matunget is about to happen. To travel on public roads, registration and a license plate are necessary and particularly given Matunget’s remote location, that takes time. The Committee made the most of it by conducting a wheels-up inspection of Big Blue including disassembly of the engine and other major components to assess functionality, necessary maintenance and any repairs that are due or might be needed soon.
The Committee also concluded that the trailer hitch was not strong enough for the heavy duty trailer custom manufactured by Mantrack Bodywork, located out west toward Eldoret, and that a pipe steel upgrade was called for. Another photo arrived without explanation – the yellow I-beam and pipe radiator protector. I have yet to understand completely how it will be utilized. When I brought it up, Abraham pivoted to talking about how there needs to be more weights added for Big Blue to be properly balanced with The Trailer, implying that the Committee has it all figured out and is taking care of it. I recognize and appreciate that they are on point for this end of the project.
The Committee is investing in the Kipkalwa School project and is preparing to involve the community of Matunget along with others throughout Kenya in the upcoming Harambee. As Abraham says, Big Blue is a game changer. The amount of work a 72 hp tractor, a 15 cubic yard heavy duty trailer and farming implements will be able to accomplish is something that we look forward to appreciating and celebrating. Paying outsiders high prices to rent a tractor and driver – who might be late and might be called away at any time, especially during the busy season, has been a way of life in Matunget since heavy machinery first arrived in the area not all that long ago. While spotting a passing tractor is not uncommon, there has never been a single tractor based in Matunget. As a result, productivity of the land and acreage farmed per capita have historically been relatively low. There is much upside potential in this lush high altitude land, bathed in the mists rising from the Great Rift Valley, thousands of feet below to the east.
Big Blue will enable family farmers to improve and enlarge their ability to till the land and to transport their products and cattle to market, resulting in higher prices by turning the tide and cutting out the middlemen who pass through occasionally with large trucks, paying low prices – and maybe not coming at the right time. Big Blue will pull The Heavy Duty Trailer the 20k to Iten, where the road drops into the Great Rift Valley, traveling up to Kabarnet (home of 5-time World XC Champion Paul Tergat), Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, Nakuru and ultimately Nairobi. Transporting larger harvests to Iten will generate greater profits for Matunget families, and will generate operating income for the Kipkalwa School, including the critical hot meal program, and will provide funding for school resources and improvements, including solar-powered computers, a library, and a community center.
The Committee has completed its maintenance and repairs, the bumper has been painted and at last the license plate and registration have arrived! We look forward to news of Big Blue’s arrival in Matunget and a photo in front of the half-century old Kipkalwa School building, just down the road from the 4 acres of land that Global Running Culture purchased in 2014 for the new Kipkalwa School building, campus and garden.
Stay tuned to the Thunder Blog for news about preparations for the 7th running of Santa Fe Thunder, including the attendance of Kip Keino, the father of Kenyan distance running and tips for making the most of your experience participating in The Race Different! We will also provide regular updates about Big Blue and preparations for the Kipkalwa School Harambee this fall!
Until then –
The Kipkalwa School Project is one of Global Running Culture’s long-term projects designed to better the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education in 3 primarily indigenous communities where running is a vital part of the culture: Matunget, Kenya, northern New Mexico, and the village of Cusarare, Copper Canyon, Mexico.