Monday, June 20, 2022
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Sierra Leone Marathon 2022 –

The beginning space was very bizarre. We had been at Makeni stadium at 5am…head torches and final minute wees the order of the day.

Oh and it was my birthday…did I not point out that? I received a stunning Comfortable Birthday rendition, and a card and badge from my crew…what a solution to rejoice hey?

I used to be just a little discombobulated, I had all these items each bodily and psychological to hold across the course with me, and I simply wished to get began. I sat and taped up my knees, not sure of how they might deal with the terrain which was described as undulating…when are programs not?

After some speeches and a rousing model of the nationwide anthem, the race received off on time (properly 6.12am which I believed was fairly good) the solar was already turning the sky an odd pink and orange at the moment, so it actually did really feel like a race towards the clock.

The primary a part of the route felt like a blur…I noticed a bunch of my women head off into the space, I couldn’t stick to them, and a bunch behind me with again marker/sweeper Josh (the one particular person to have run each race because it began)

Makeni within the early morning is unrecognisable to the later within the day mayhem that could be a hustling busling African city…it was nonetheless busy, with of us going about their morning routines, the roads had visitors, motorbikes, vans primarily, and there have been loads of of us sitting exterior their houses having fun with the spectacle that’s 100+ worldwide runners making their approach via their residence city.

For context, it’s helpful to know that the marathon hadn’t been run the final two years because of the pandemic, and even earlier than that, the sight of a number of white folks working via the streets on this a part of the world might be a bit bizarre. 

The primary 5 miles went very well, I used to be making good time. Working primarily on my own, with a number of runners simply forward of me, together with Trudy who resulting from having Covid a number of weeks earlier had already determined to drop all the way down to the half (a wise transfer). It was good to have one in every of my women close to for a few of the run…however we misplaced one another at one of many water stations, the place I wanted my first wee.

We had been warned that wild wees could be the order of the day, however at this level I used to be nonetheless very a lot on the town, and thought Makeni was in all probability not prepared for the sight of my superb bare behind at the moment within the morning, so one of many Crimson Cross employees on the water station directed myself and three different runners who wanted the toilet, to a reasonably strong wanting constructing that turned out to be the house of the native ceremonial chief.

He kindly invited us into his residence to make use of his amenities, and even invited us to sit down down for a second (I’m positive he would have introduced us tea lol) and we discovered about how Chief elections work, whereas we took turns utilizing in all probability one of the best bathroom amenities of my journey lol

The following part of the run was harder. An extended sluggish hill. Tarmaced which was good, however the solar was now up. It was solely 7.30ish by this level and the solar wasn’t precisely sturdy…but it surely’s presence was felt. The highway was lined with villages…with youngsters desirous to say hi there.

It was at this level I used to be joined by Emily.

Emily is a 17 yr previous dairy farmer from Devon. She was in Sierra Leone together with her cousin who works for Streetchild. Donna was just a little behind us powerwalking with a few my women however Emily wished to run. So she joined me in my run stroll sequence and it didn’t take us lengthy to understand we’d in all probability run the remainder of this race collectively.

This highway went on for miles.

We handed the half marathon flip off level, we refuelled, reapplied solar display, and saved making our approach up this dreaded hill, very a lot on our personal. All through the route there have been Streetchild veihcles and motorbikes checking that we had been all OK which was reassuring, however I feel it was at this level that I realised how a lot additional we nonetheless needed to run.

We had been on our ft for 3ish hours by now, and had lined about 9 miles…it was 9am and the solar was sizzling!!! I had discovered that Emily had solely managed 10 miles in coaching and I beloved her optimisim in regards to the distance…she was an inspiration, simply cracking on with out moaning. It made me suppose quite a bit about my 9 yr previous Rose, and who she’d be at 17, what adventures she’d have, and who’d accompany her on them.

Rose had stated final week she wished to return to Sierra Leone to run the marathon, I reminded her that she didn’t even like strolling to highschool…perhaps someday I’ll convey her lol

The highway we had been on included an out and again part of round 6 miles which I used to be dreading. We had been instructed within the briefing that this may be the toughest part, with no shade, and nonetheless half of the race to go. As I did the maths in my head I knew tackling this part would see us ending the marathon distance in 10 hours plus if we had been fortunate…and I wasn’t positive I had that in me as we speak with so little sleep and this warmth.

The medics had defined within the briefing that this was not a marathon the place it was a given that folk would end, and that it doesn’t matter what distance you probably did you had been nonetheless a winner. (which made me just a little emosh). I wasn’t worrying a couple of DNF (didn’t end), I used to be extra nervous a couple of DNE (Didn’t take pleasure in…and sure I’ve simply made that up)

I got here to Sierra Leone to undertake the problem of a lifetime, and to boost cash for an necessary trigger, and for me personally, that didn’t have a mileage attatched to it, and Emily when questioned by the Medic on the mile 9 aid station she felt related. We stopped for round 10 minutes discussing our choices.

If we continued up the out and again part, we’d probably be picked up in a 4×4 afterward within the course for security causes, if we turned left now, we’d hit some shade, and extra probably be capable to end beneath our personal steam. One of many different advantages I hadn’t thought of is that by taking this route, we’d additionally see extra runners previous us, and I’d get to see a few of my women end their race (which I’d find yourself being so grateful for)

So we made the joint resolution to go for 20 miles as our objective.

Now I do know there shall be folks studying this that may have an opinion on this, however I don’t give a shit. My well being and wellbeing trumps anybody elses judgement of what consitutes a marathon effort or not. It comes down to private accountability, but additionally the sense of accountability I felt for my new working buddie. I didn’t need to break her race later down the road (as she wouldn’t have been allowed to run by herself), and I’d have been equally annoyed if I’d been pulled off the route as a result of she couldn’t end.

So for us it was the best resolution.

The marginally shaded part which noticed us head into the jungle was a welcome reduction, however the warmth and humidity didn’t actually let up. 30 levels, and 90% humidity is not any joke, when you’re 10 miles right into a run. There have been additionally some huge bugs, farmers with machetes within the ajoining fields (typically topless…and no i don’t simply imply the boys) after which the bike escorts that had been conserving us secure on this extra secluded path. 

We noticed numerous different runners alongside this path together with Anna, Streetchilds Communication Officer, who would go on to win the primary worldwide feminine accolade, and Pete Cooper from Coopah Working who walked with us for a bit which was simply the increase we wanted.



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