Immaculate Wanjira: The Marathon Mom
It’s Monday, September 25, 2023, and to many women, the thought of competing in a marathon during the second trimester of pregnancy is laughable. But not for Immaculate Wanjira. At 41 years old and pregnant with her fifth child, Wanjira recently posted an impressive time of 2 hours and 6 minutes in a 21-kilometer race. She is no stranger to pushing her limits and has become an inspiration to many as she juggles multiple roles in her life.
Wanjira is a homeschool teacher, wife, mother of four, a nutritionist student, and a gym enthusiast. However, it is her love for running that has remained constant over the past seven years. Having already completed more than 3,000 kilometers in over 100 races, both locally and internationally, Wanjira has developed a strong obsession with running. “I can’t see myself not running. My mind and soul won’t allow me,” she declares.
But this obsession with running didn’t start until Wanjira faced a health scare. At a weight of 120 kilograms, she developed severe heel pain that made it difficult for her to walk. The doctor diagnosed her with plantar fasciitis caused by her weight and advised her to shed the extra pounds. Wanjira realized that she had been blaming her weight gain on her twins, using the excuse that she needed to eat more to satisfy their nutritional needs. However, it wasn’t the quantity of food she was consuming, but the quality.
As a nutritionist student, Wanjira recognized the importance of eating nutritious food rather than indulging in fried and unhealthy options. She decided to make a change and joined a gym to start working out. Although she felt lighter and had more endurance, the weight refused to come off. It was a friend at the gym who suggested that she cut wheat from her diet and incorporate running into her routine.
Initially, Wanjira despised running and collapsed after just 700 meters. However, her competitive spirit wouldn’t let her give up so easily. She decided to give running another shot on her own terms. She combined her gym sessions with a three-kilometer run afterward, and the results were astounding.
“With wheat out of my diet and my self-designed workout program, my weight started dropping at an alarming rate. I lost five kilos in just 21 days,” Wanjira recalls. This initial weight loss was enough motivation for her to keep going.
Wanjira quickly became involved in the running community, participating in her first marathon in Mt. Meru, Tanzania, in 2017. Despite weighing 85 kilograms at the time, she completed the 21-kilometer race in 2 hours and 16 minutes. Her accomplishment motivated her to continue running, even after becoming pregnant again.
Even with another baby on the way, Wanjira never quit the gym. She maintained her strength training and continued lifting heavy weights until the day before she gave birth. This dedication ensured that she didn’t lose her shape even after delivery. In fact, she only gained two kilos during her pregnancy, weighing 87 kilos at the time of delivery.
Soon after giving birth, Wanjira was back on the track participating in the Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon, a race she has done four times. She consistently performs well in races, often finishing in top positions and even winning prize money. Her most memorable race was the Dubai Marathon this year, where she completed the 42-kilometer race and stood on the podium.
As Wanjira gears up for the upcoming Frankfurt Marathon in Germany on October 29, she is excited about the opportunity to run in yet another international race. Her determination and passion for running have led her to achieve remarkable feats, proving that anything is possible with hard work and perseverance.
Wanjira’s story is one of inspiration and empowerment. Despite the challenges she faced, she refused to let them define her. Instead, she used running as a way to push her limits and transform her life. Her journey serves as a reminder that it’s never too late to pursue your passions and achieve your goals.