July 13, 2011
Day 6 of running. 150km done!
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.