Here is a little story of the first ever marathon I ran in Tanzania…
I find that the best thing about being away is that life is unexpected and completely different from what your used to, there no set 9-5 and there’s no need for your name to be on the list. You can do anything there are no restraints only the ones you place upon yourself.
For me this was encapsulated a few years back when I was in Tanzania. I was out working for Madventurer, leading the renovation of small school on the slopes of Kilimanjaro with a number of volunteers from the UK. At the weekends myself and the other volunteers would have some time off; which allowed us to go see a bit more of Tanzania.
One weekend myself and a few friends had planned to go to Arusha. While we were waiting in a cafe; to get a bus to Arusha, I spotted a poster saying that there was an international marathon taking place in Arusha the next day. At this point my brain kicked into gear, and the next thing I knew I was dialing the organizers number to see if I could take part. After a few white lies, telling him that I’d ran countless half marathons and a couple of marathons I’d persuaded him to let me take part, in reality the most I’d run at this point was 6 miles!</p>
Once the laughing had subsided and I had convinced my friends that I wasn’t joking, we hopped onto the bus to Arusha. It was at this point that I realized that I was lacking the equipment to run; yes, I had legs, a heart and some lungs; however, I was decked out in a pair of jeans, some battered plimsolls and a long t-shirt. I didn’t want to mention this to my friends as it would have only served to increase their anxiety, so I kept quiet and hoped that something would turn up.
Once in Arusha we had a bit of a look around, some food, and went back to the campsite where we all indulged in a few beers and some hashish. It was around the bong that I solved one of my problems; I managed to convince a guy from the campsite to let me borrow his shorts; they were slightly on the baggy-side, but all the same they were a hell of a lot better than a pair of 501s. I stumbled off to bed to wake up a few hours later to find that it was 6.30 in the morning, the race was 8. After plastering my face with sun-block, and vasaline-ing I set off to the starting line.
By my own admission I looked bloody comical, I was decked out in oversized clothing and a battered pair of plimsolls
I spotted one of the organizers and cheekily asked if I could borrow his trainers, he sped away and came back a few minutes later and ushered me up a hotel room. The room was stacked with the latest Adidas running shoes this is my lucky day (it turns out this was the prep room for the Tanzanian Olympic try-out hoping to get a place in the Athens Olympics), however, they were all too bloody small, evidently not so lucky
Feeling slightly scared about the forthcoming event I trudged back to the start line and decided to get some food, as it was becoming all to apparent that I was going to running or at least walking for long time. After devouring a few doughnuts and sausage, I took my place at the start line, and got chatting to a few other mzungos (white people) who were less than impressed by my clothing and running experience. They all tried to convince me not to bother taking part, however their nagging only served to strengthen my resolve to run.
So there I was on the start line burning with both annoyance of those who didn’t think I was fit to run, and more worryingly burning from the sun. By my own admission I looked bloody comical, I was decked out in oversized clothing and a battered pair of plimsolls, however, I was determined to prove to myself and those around me what I could do…….TBC