With Mama Africas Banjul is Calling Louder

Monday, July 19, 2011

Day 10. 25km run today, 231km total!

A very good day following a very bad running day.  Yalla bahna.

5:00pm. Soma TransGambia Lodge. Chillin’ in room with Ashley, Pa + Binta Jallow

A big day for my behaving body parts and a bigger day for Ashley!  Ashley started today’s run with me this morning, having beaten Pa out of the truck with shoelaces tied first. We began running incredibly long hills and realized that perhaps Pa wasn’t tying his laces on purpose.

Ashley ran 10km for the first time 2 days ago in 2 separate runs.  Starting on these long hills was good for both of us.  Working hard on the hills meant less mental focus devoted to obsessing over my gut. Working hard for Ashley meant the time passed more quickly for her. We stopped to water at 20 minutes and Ashley said that she would continue for another 20 minutes.  I was pleasantly surprised. When we stopped at 40 minutes, I told her that she was SO CLOSE to 10km, she should just continue.

At this point, 90% of run had been uphill- I kid you not.  We would get to the top of a hill and be greeted by more uphill.  The weather beginning was humid and Yalla Bahna, the sun began burning the humidity off.  I pulled Ashley with me up hill after hill. Pa +Kebba were cheering crazily in the truck, “Go Ashley, go Ashley, get to 10km!”  We reached a village and in a village, the work never feels so hard.  I was happy for Ashley, the village would help. We reached 9km.  I didn’t tell her.

Then she said she wanted to stop and I said NO!  You only have 725m left!  I began talking non-stop.  And then a beautiful thing happened.  We were approaching women walking to work at the market in Soma (next town).  An older woman saw us and began freaking out!  Laughing! Yelling!  Cheering! Waving her arms!  And she began to run with us. “Nimbarra! Nimbarra” I said meaning “hard work” in Mandinka. The mama ran more.  This beautiful woman helped Ashley finish the last 200m.  She did it, with the mama: 10km.

We were soon surrounded by grandmothers and mothers going to work.  They were so pleased with us, wanting hugs and handshakes. I love the kids out here but these Mamas, I love them the most.

I am so proud of Ashley.  Pa is so proud of Ashley. Kebba is so proud of Ashley.  She ran her 10km in 60:05 in humidity and 35+ degrees on a road that was 90% uphill.

Kebba and I continued easily from km 10-20. Kebba said he was inspired by Ashley’s 10km accomplishment.  Today was hot, topping 40.

We rested under a tree at a farm in Kaif. We soon had an audience.  Additionally, the president’s convoy was about to drive through very soon (in African time, in about 2 hours) so at 11am, the women came from the farm field and began singing and drumming for the president.

I did my own recovery thing for about an hour and then was ready to have some fun. I had said that we had to do yoga at rest so I pulled my team up from the blanket and we began our sun salutations to the wonder of our audience.  We went through 2 sun salutations and then I invited the kids to join.  I lined them up, about 12 of them, and told them to follow me.  To my great delight, they practiced with us for about 15 minutes.  Strong kids, they caught on very well! They told me that they loved it.  And told me, “we like you.”

Then it was the Mama farmers’ turn to instruct.  They made a circle and thrust their farming tools into Ashley and I’s hands and had a great time laughing at us using the hoe. They beat out a rhythm on their drum (plastic jug) for us to work to.  Perfection.

My new yoga pupils began our second run with us. I discovered a new and interesting fact about my youngest Gambian running partners yesterday.  I’m always concerned about them running too far from their home and always tell them to stop running at the outskirt of their village. Sometimes Pa or Kebba need to translate my “cease running” order.  Often the kids are barefoot and I worry about them walking more than a km home. Yesterday, 4 young boys began our second run with us and I waved goodbye to them at the outskirt of their village, 1 kilometer after we began running.  I continued to run up and over a big hill and stopped for water at the 2km mark, just over the crest of the hill.  As I stood there drinking, the 4 boys crested the hill and ran towards me.  I thought they had stopped at 1km when I waved goodbye.  They were still running after me. Gambian children will indeed run until you tell them to stop.  Maybe even all the way to Banjul, who knows?  I made sure I told the kids to stop today.

Halfway through run #2, Ashley and I ran behind a tree on a farm to pee. When we returned to the truck, the women working the farm were at Pa’s window.  Kebba had been telling them about my run.  They began speaking to me really rapidly in Mandinka and grabbing for my hands and trying to hug me.  Kebba translated.  They were telling me that they had very little and that their kids badly needed the education that I was running for and that they want to thank me.  The oldest woman had tears in her eyes.  So did I.

The president’s convoy caught up and passed us around the 24km mark of our day. I was happy for Kebba, I knew that he wanted them to drive by us while we were running.

Much love to everyone at home and thanks to the ones leaving us messages, you help keep us strong.



This entry was posted in Running in Africa, women in sports and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to With Mama Africas Banjul is Calling Louder

  1. Shelley Radford says:

    What spirit….Beautiful! Go Erin….Go Ashley!!

  2. Colette says:

    Tears in my eyes here too! xoxox from all us. Colby, Janelle, Wes and Colette

  3. Jennifer Heatley says:

    Erin, what a beautiful day for you. I have tears in my eyes. Make sure you absorb every moment and remember all of the little things. Keep them with you when the run gets tough!

  4. Erin's mom says:

    I am so glad today was good for you. Tell Ashley I think she is amazing!!
    Again, the blog postings are the highlight of my day. keep them coming.
    Love you.

  5. Jeanne Poirier says:

    Sounds like a beautiful Day Erin! Keep on running!

  6. Sue Haikings says:

    You are both amazing. You make me believe anything is possible. Sue

  7. Cathy says:

    I will add my “tears in my eyes too” comment….the days are getting so close now…
    What an amazing feat for Ashley: really…unbelieveable.
    Less than one week literally from this moment….I can’t wait.
    Love to you all,
    As always,
    Cathy xoxo

  8. Debby Hughes says:

    Fantastic Ashley!!! I’m sure tears will come to everyone who reads this blog:):)

  9. Brenda MacIsaac says:

    I feel like I cry every time I read your post. So emotional and touching. Way to go Ashley, awesome 10k! Yoga and Mamas full of love. . .fantastic. Big hugs, Bren

  10. So glad you had a better day today. You have converted Ashley into a runner.From the way you write I feel like I know all your team personally. – so proud of you all.

  11. Megan Aston says:

    Wow, I didn’t know you were going to do so much running Ashley! Way to go!! I love hearing about the grandmothers and children. What a wonderful experience to meet all these people along your journey. I hope there is more downhill running for you tomorrow – or at least flat!

  12. Cheryl Sharpe says:

    What an awsome post Erin. Tears here too. I guess all who read it will have the tears in their eyes. So glad you are feeling better today and had a good run. I am so proud of Ashley for her dedication and determination.She is amazing. Have a Great day tomorrow and I hope it is downhill all the way, with a wind on your back!! “YOU GO GIRLS”
    Love Cheryl(MOM)

  13. Bev Redmond says:

    What an amazing experience for you, Ashley, the Mamas, the children….for everyone! Thanks so much for sharing with those of us on the other side of the world. I will be following your posts for sure. Best wishes……….Bev in Texas

  14. Dawn Hughes says:

    YAHOOOOOO!!!!!!! Ashley!!!!!!!! Way to go Erin. Glad you feeling stronger today and your blog also brought tears to my eyes. The women you met have it right, you are making a difference and I am so pleased that they are telling you so. Keep up the great work. Sending love and support to all.

  15. Julie says:

    Crying of course. There are no words to describe what you are doing. Thanks for sharing these wonderful stories that really bring it home to people like me who are so far removed from such situation.

  16. Gemma says:

    Glad today was a better day. You are one determined lady must be the genes- and we are PROUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Mel Connors says:

    Amazing!!! Yay for Mama farmers! What great images… Congrats Ashley on your run! You guys rock!!!

  18. Kate Keast says:

    Wow! That is amazing!!!!!!!! I am so proud of you Erin, and Ashley of course! You guys are doing FANTASTIC! Your awesome!

  19. Matt says:

    Beautiful post – hard to describe the feelings it evokes. Keep strong and good luck!

  20. Becky says:

    Great run today ladies!! Tears in my eyes here too!! Keep doing what you are doing!

Comments are closed.