The Rains Down in Africa

Tuesday, July 12, 2011, 9:30pm, Janjangbureh

Day 5, 125km run!

Today we received the treat we’ve been waiting for, RAIN!  Finally!  As we were leaving camp this morning, the first few drops began falling.  It was blissfully cool, about 24 degrees, during our first 20km run and it rained for most of it.  After days running at 37-38 degrees, it was unbelievably lovely.  Kebba said he was cold.

We took our rest at the camp as we were only about 10km away at the end of 20km and because, obviously, it was raining out.  After a 2 hour rest, the rain had cleared and it was like a new day began.  This new day was 37 degrees.  Its unbelievable how it different the weather can be in one day.

I was so grateful for the rain today because of how I was feeling.  Now when you read this, know that I am fine.  But the seams on the bucket were leaking a little bit today.

My first 4 days of running involved a lot of negotiation with my stomach/gut.  The runners out there know what I mean.  When you run, much of your blood flow gets diverted to your legs to power then.  Much of the blood supply to your gut gets shunted to your legs.  I am running in 38 degree heat and I absolutely need to drink almost continuously to stay ahead of my fluid and electrolyte loss through sweat.  But a gut with little blood flow isn’t so pleased with this.

My first 4 days with “Gut” sounded like this:

Erin: We need to drink 3 sips of Gatorade now (my rule is always 3 sips at once)

Gut: Sigh. If you must. But we aren’t happy about it

Erin: 3 more sips

Gut: Not now, we are dangerously close to the vomit/poo-your-pants threshold

Erin: Ok, but in 500m we must drink.

My negotiations to eat food during our 90 minute rest weren’t as successful as I always hovered closer to the vomit-threshold.  I haven’t been able to eat as much as I wanted or as much as Ashley, Pa and Kebba want me to during this period.

Today, negotiations with Gut turned sour.

Erin: Gatorade is coming

Gut: For the love of God, why have you been shaking us up and down for 2.5 hours a day nonstop for 4 days. WTF.

Erin: Because we need to run. Gatorade coming

Gut: So help me God, if you drown us in artificially colored sugar and salt one more time, you’ll be sorry

Erin: Gatorade has to come

Gut: You’ve left us no choice but to squeeze you in protest.  For 20km.

And so I ran all of my 20km this morning with waves of gut cramping.  I ran behind a tree twice.  Kebba and I even walked about 200m so I could calm Gut down.  This has nothing to do with African/tropical illness, it’s purely a runner phenomenon.  I drank way less than my target today because I just couldn’t put it in my stomach.  Luckily with the cool weather and the rain, I wasn’t sweating as much and could survive on less fluid.

My team was brilliant as always.  We were laughing tonight about how there is no modesty and no secrets with a team that is trying to run across a country.

Back at camp for rest, I ordered a sandwich about 90 minutes in.  It arrived about 2 hours into rest.  This is the longest window between running and eating that I’ve had.  The waiter brought me a “canned meat” sandwich, aka Spam.  On a full load of tapalapa, it was bigger than a footlong sub at Subway. I figured that I already felt really bad, what’s the worst that could happen and I ate almost all of it.

Honest to God, it cured me.  I had no problem with my second 5km run.  I drank my target of 750ml of Gatorade. The moral of the story is that you can shut your gut up with Spam. Amen.

Aside from my cramping stomach, I’ve had to operate on my left toe blister again.  I also took off my socks at 20km and was highly offended to see a huge blood blister on a right toe known for good behavior. I was trying to tell Ashley that despite blister and cramping problems, we could at least be grateful that my legs are fine.  And then she reminded me that both of my adductor (groin) muscles are taped.

Anyway, I think that today was a day of struggle to overcome and the good news is that my second 5km run was as comfortable as any run I’ve ever done.  I think tomorrow will be a good day.  The holes in the bucket have been patched.

My team was really significant to me today.  When I get home, it won’t be “Erin Poirier ran across The Gambia.”  It’ll be “Team Love4Gambia- Erin, Ashley, Kebba and Pa Modou ran across The Gambia.”  I run all of the steps each km but we share this.  We share the work.  We take care of each other.  I only ran 3km solo today, my people, Pa, Kebba and Ashley plan each morning to stagger their runs.

Halfway through this morning’s run, I was feeling like I feel during the mid miles of a marathon.  Where you need something to focus on to help the time disappear.  On the road to Banjul, you don’t need to look far for this focus.  Additionally, running next to me is often Kebba who is like my personal Dalai Lama- so full of inspiration and encouragement and support.

Your support from home helps too.  Please continue to support us.

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16 Responses to The Rains Down in Africa

  1. Cathy says:

    ok…so…I will admit…I am obsessing about your posts, and wondering why this one was coming late and looking at the time and thinking “it getting late there, and Erin should be sleeping by now, but she probably will be posting. I hope she is ok”….and then up pops this blog. I am feeling your vibes across the Atlantic, in large part due to your amazing writing skill. I do think that a book would be a really good idea, Erin…but first things first 🙂 I also admit that I feel like I am stalking the 4 of you. But I know you love and appreciate the support, so I won’t let up. Until I set foot on the plane to Banjul. In exactly 2 weeks I will be meeting you at the finish line. And let me clarify a converstaion that I had today with Pa: no running for me!…ha haaa…running the NSGA is enough for me, thank you very much! So…tomorrow….imagine the scene ahead of you as you reach the finish line in Banjul….each step you take and gut-wrenching moment gets you that much closer. Namaste! 🙂 xoxoxoxoxoxox

    PS: Take. care. of. yourself.

    • Muhammed Ngallan says:

      Namaste Team Love4Gambia! Keep the posts coming. By the way a 2km run by the BIG BOSS won’t hurt. I think we will launch a campaign to get the Executive Director on the tracks/dirt or tar whatever works!!!

  2. molly says:

    I love the Gut to Erin dialogue, hilarious!! Stay hydrated and happy! Love the posts!

  3. mike says:

    hey team,
    great to hear spam cures all! erin, just remind your gut of the training it endured at the beer mile… while your target gatorade consumption is high, it does not approach 4 x 341 ml in 10 minutes!!
    cliff asked how the trek was going at practice tonight. very happy to tell him you guys are having the time of your lives! this is truly once in a lifetime type stuff!

  4. Dawn Hughes says:

    Erin so glad that your amazing TEAM is helping you so much. I knew that they would. They all sound like amazing people. This is all team ——great effort and accolades to all. Keep the posts coming. Sending good vibes to you all.

  5. Mel Connors says:

    Oh Erin… my gut hurts for your gut… I will have to remember to have a spam sandwich after my next race! I am sending happy gut vibes to you for run #6!!!!! Hang in there gut!!!!!!!

  6. Gina says:

    Change mantra of next run to “happy gut happy gut happy gut happy gut”!!!
    Also loving the frequent updates, thinking of you often. The gals in recovery room ask about you each and every time I show up to work. You’ve got a lot of nurses pulling for you, so take THAT, gut!!!!!!

  7. Megan Aston says:

    You are an awesome team! I am enjoying getting to know all of you through your posts. I know that many of us are running with you in spirit. I think about you every day when I run. If anyone would like to run/walk with me this Saturday July 16 we can have a Love4Gambia 5km run/walk in my neighbourhood! We will start at 0900 at Kingswood Elementary School, 34 Vrege Crt Hammonds Plains. You can contact me at or just show up! Rain or shine!! 🙂

  8. Tpnya Toole-Brennan says:

    Hey Girl,
    Missed you tonight on the track. Towards the end of it, you were on my mind a lot! Loved reading your blog tonight. You’re all toughas nails. Jeff bought Canadian running magazine yesterday and a few pages in, I was thrilled to see your photo and article! It was fantastic! Anyway, keep up the great work team! You are all inspiring.
    With love, T

  9. Cheryl Sharpe says:

    WAY TO GO TEAM. Great Post today. Glad everyone is doing fine. The writings make this all so exciting and makes me wish I was making the journey with you. Not running, but maybe a brisk walk!! Take Care
    Love (MOM) Cheryl

  10. Philip Rosson says:

    Love the story of the Spam sandwich! Maybe Subway should add it to their menu for all runners. Glad to hear that you got some rain, I can only imagine what a relief that would be after 35+C days. Wonderful to hear how the team is working together. This is an amazing story guys.


  11. Debby Poirier says:

    Tomorrow -Thursday is your birthday!!
    Stay healthy and upbeat.
    Gilles and I are trying to follow your trek on an old map he brought back in the late ‘ 80.
    Love Debby

  12. Greg says:


    125k in already. Wow…Time flies when you are having FUN….and it really sounds like you are maxing out on the satisfaction.

    Great report.

  13. Shauna says:

    You are doing awesome, buddy! I’m so proud of you. You told that gut where to go with that spam!! Who knew??! I think of you everyday and am rooting for you 150%. I especially think of you on my runs. Take care of yourself, love reading your blogs, you are truly an inspiration!

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