“Stand By Me”

July 13, 2011

Day 6 of running. 150km done!

Jakhaly, 9:30pm

Ashley and I have started singing while running. She had “Stand by Me” on her ipod and we’ve changed to words to “Run with Me” and we sing this at the 1km mark of the second 5km run.

I took 6 days of running for me to turn my team into distance runners! I ran 25km today and not a single step alone. Pa ran the first 10km with me. The first run is the most coveted among the team and there is a lot of jostling that happens to decide who gets to run it. Pa was the winner today. Ashley joined from 9km through 14km. Kebba was getting really antsy in the truck, wanting to run. I joked at 9km that Pa was going to run until 20km and Kebba said, “Well then I’ll have to abandon the truck! I must join!” Namaste.

Legs are good today. No tape on adductor muscles and they are functioning just like adductor muscles are supposed too. Blister on left foot is a mess but is not hurting. Right toe blister gone into submission, looks and feels fine. Stomach very cooperative today. Ate half an agara (? Spelling: beans rolled into balls and fried) sandwich at rest under a mango tree on the outskirts of Brikamaba.

Everyday brings a new and wonderful surprise. Today around 12km we were running through rice farms and saw 6 women walking across the field with buckets on their head. They were heading to work for the day. We then got close to us, they began cheering and when close enough, they began to shake my hand and hug me. They were old grandmothers, in their 70s. They had heard that we were coming and were really happy to see us. They said that they wanted to run too. Then they began running in the spot, 70 year old arms swinging back and forth, buckets perched gracefully on their old heads. When we continued running, I felt like I could fly.

We were joined by children for most of the last 5km. A group of young boys hung around our rest blanket in Brikamaba and they joined first. The youngest was about 3 years old, named after the president, and even he ran about 500m! When we arrived in the next village, Jakhaly, it was lunchtime and elementary school kids joined us. They love to chant “Love4Gambia!” Then we were joined by high school youth. Kebba told them that we were running for Peer Health Education and they said they knew their peer health team. They ran about 1km with us to the outskirt of Jakhaly and we told them to stop at the tree marking the end of the village. We drank some water and then we continued up the hill. And these youth continued with us. I turned around and they were still running. About 14 of them. Even though we told them to stop, even though it was hot, around 37, and they were all wearing school uniforms. Even though many of them were barefoot and the pavement is very hot at 1pm. Two boys and two girls finished the 5km with us. How lucky are we?

I will be on Breakfast Television tomorrow, Thursday, at 8:15 AST. I recorded my interview on the phone today while under a tree in Jakhaly, surrounded by a curious audience of kids from Jakhaly Lower Cycle School (elementary).

Tomorrow, Thursday July 14 is my birthday. We will be running 31km for my age, 31 years. Internet time is really limited and I can’t read many facebook messages. But if you would like to wish me happy birthday, I would love for you to donate $31 to Love4Gambia. Or $310. Just click on the “donate now” button on the homepage.

Much love,

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6 Responses to “Stand By Me”

  1. Cathy says:

    Surprise surprise….I am the first one stalking, I mean commenting again! Ha haaaa…. 🙂
    Jakob and I just ran Day 1 of Love for Love4Gambia. I told him that I had to run a bit each day before I go so that I can suffer in spirit just a little bit. And be able to quaintly slog a little jog towards the finish line with you. HA! So when Jakob heard this, in his mind it equalled “I have to whip my mom’s ass into shape! In one week!”…so he pushed me to the next tree, mail box, prodding me along, while the dryness in my mouth made me think I was literally Running the Sahara. “OK mom, just run until we reach the end of that drive way”…I started to resent him running with me….and he talks! Too much! I couldn’t speak because if I did he would hear me panting. And then I thought of you and was able to feel just a wee bit lighter. And I think on some small level, on my “don’t even know how far we went, but it couldn’t have even been 5k run”….I even understood your tummy troubles. Because there is a famous Suzy Q cupcake sitting in my kitchen with my name on it, and I can’t even imagine touching it. But on the other hand the thought of a spam sandwich makes me want to vomit.

    Love you all Team Love4Gambia!!
    Love from Love for Love4Gambia,
    Cathy and Jakob (aka Coach Jr.)

  2. Gemma says:

    Congratulations on 150km!!!!! Happy Birthday tomorrow. We are in Halifax but unable to celebrate your birthday with Greg as he is in San Francisco. Appointment went well today. Home tomorrow. Keep safe and we will catch you on BT tomorrow.

  3. Cheryl Sharpe says:

    Awsome: Team Love4Gambia-Happy Birthday Erin. Hope you all have a Great Day tomorrow. I will be looking forward to BT tomorrow morning. Wishing you all cool breezes and Happy Feet.
    Love Cheryl(MOM)

  4. Mel Connors says:

    Hi guys!!! Have a wonderful 31km birthday run tomorrow!!! How lucky you are Erin to have such a dedicated team that you never have to run alone anymore!!! Thanks for the posts! I look forward to your interview tomorrow!

  5. Liam Keast says:

    I think Cathy has thrown down a challenge to be the earliest to follow-up!

    Happy Birthday Erin – 31K excellent. That’s going throw my math off a little as I keep track of your distance. It was easier to add 25K per day now I’m going to have to remember to add 6K. But it’s your birthday, you’re allowed! Seriously have an awesome birthday run. It sounds like you are having a terrific time so far so that’s good. Thanks for the updates, we are all reading them.

    By the way, I have a Google Map of The Gambia outside my office. Two of them actually – one that shows the route you are taking and one that shows were you’ve been so far and how far you’ve run. I’ve had a few questions about it and reminded everyone about what you are doing. They are quite impressed!

  6. Jenn and the gang says:

    Happy Birthday from Public Health!!!!
    Hi Erin, hope you have a great birthday. I am sure this will be one that will have lots of memories for you. Hope the run is going well. I admire your commitment, motivation and generosity.
    Heather McEwan

    Happy Birthday, Erin! best wishes.

    Happy birthday, Erin.Remember my words of wisdom-if a hippo bites you, bite him back!
    I will eat from a mason jar for you tonight at my desk in the bathroom, a la Dwight. loves!!!!

    Happy birthday and keep on going!!! Run, girl, run!
    CDC girls

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