Running 424km is one thing, but doing it in an African country far away from home comfort is another story. When I signed up for Love4Gambia, I thought I was a tough girl who could handle anything no problem… Well you shouldn’t predict until you actually live it. The past 2 weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions and life experiences for me. Love4Gambia had got the best, but also the worst out of me. But one thing I am sure, this run has definitely made me a stronger woman!
From having to deal with constant mechanical issues of our vehicle (sometimes in the mud, sometimes in the middle of the forest) to having electricity and running water for only 5 hours/day, from trying to go to sleep with the sounds of chickens and sheep to having to share a toilet (aka a whole in the ground) with a whole neighborhood… I can say that I had my little cultural shock not long after I arrived in The Gambia!
Combine these cultural differences with having to run 25km in 30+ weather everyday, to not finding cold water or ice anywhere (because of the nightly electricity system), to eat rice and bread every single meal (I’m pretty sure I didn’t loose any weight during this run!) to waking up stiff and sore every morning…well that’s what I call a real challenge!!! I admit that sometimes I did miss (a lot!) the comfort of my bed, my 24h AC and my daily fruits and veggies!
On the 12th day of the run, I woke up with fever and an upset stomach. I still began the run, hoping it would maybe go away. But after 10km, I sat down on the side of the road and bursted into tears. I was feeling sick, I had no energy… Pa Modou sat with me and gently told me that it was ok if I wanted to stop, that I didn’t have to push my body to the point of exhaustion. But I wasn’t ready to quit yet… Stubborn, I tried to push through, but at the 15km mark, I decided with the team that I should stop and take the day to rest and recover. It was a wise decision. After a good 12h of sleep, I was feeling fresh and energize the next morning. My body and mind needed some rest. I learned that sometimes, you have to put your ego aside and listen to yourself.
After this episode, we had our second rest day coming up and I wanted to treat myself and the team to a little bit of luxury. So I decided to pay for the team two nights in a lovely little resort in Kalagi where there is 24h electricity, AC, wifi and even a pool (thanks for the idea Terry!). It was paradise! I even had a salad for dinner!! This is exactly what we needed to replenish ourselves before taking on the last week of the run!
As I’m writing this, we only have 2 more days of running left! Even though I faced many challenges, I never thought about giving up. I had my starfish necklace to remind me of why I was doing this (the story is in my first post in June). I know now that nothing will beat the pride and satisfaction that I will have when I will be running into the roads of Banjul, crossing the Arch 22 and finally reach the Atlantic Ocean side by side with Yankuba, Pa Modou and Modou! This is it! Banjul is calling!!!