WORLD OF FIGURES: You don't just wake up and decide to run a marathon!
It is not only a waste of time to attempt to calculate the rate at which the marathon earnings were made but it is also demeaning of the athletic effort and discipline it took.
Our obsession with money is disturbing; nay, troubling. It appears that in Kenya, the only thing that matters is the amount of money being made out of anything.
If there is no chance of making some monetary gain out of something, then it is deemed an unnecessary waste of time and effort.
It reminds me of what Christopher Warren-Green wrote in his introductory notes to the 1989 musical recording, “Under the eye of heaven”, performed by the London Chamber Orchestra.
He observed that we are “at a time when we are encouraged to believe that nothing has value unless it can be sold”.
Consider this: In 2016, I wrote an article suggesting how we can solve the two-thirds gender problem in the membership of parliament and also improve the performance of the legislature. One of the outcomes of my suggestion was a reduction in the number of MPs and senators from the current total of 416 to just 110.
I fished out that article from my archives last week and shared it on my Twitter page. Nearly all responses to it was that the money saved by such a move would be insignificant! Even after explaining that this was not about money or budgets, people still didn’t let go of it.
You can read the article in my website. You will notice that it doesn’t even mention the words money or budget or expenses!
A few days after that interaction, Eliud Kipchoge broke the marathon world record by the greatest improvement since 1967. Unfortunately, most of the comments about it in the mass media were focused only on the amount of money that he stood to gain for this feat.
Indeed, one writer tried to calculate the rate at which Kipchoge earned the money per kilometre of the race. Someone else asked me to work out how much it was per stride!
These are not particularly difficult calculations but they are misguided and misleading. The fact is that Kipchoge didn’t just wake up that fine Sunday morning and decided to run the marathon!
In his own words: “It takes four to five months to prepare to win a marathon”. Considering that he contested his first marathon race in 2013, can we then say that it has taken him five years to break the world record?
Perhaps we can, especially when we observe that in the intervening period, that record was broken twice — in 2013 and 2014.
In addition, over the past five years, Kipchoge has entered nine marathons — each taking four to five months of preparation. Incidentally, that “preparation” includes running more than 35km every day!
Clearly then, it is not only a waste of time to attempt to calculate the rate at which the marathon earnings were made but it is also demeaning of the athletic effort and discipline it took.
Incidentally, Kipchoge holds discipline in very high esteem: “Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions”.
www.figures.co.ke Twitter: @MungaiKihanya