June 24, 2016 – A Three Hour Tour
Entebani means “place of mountains.” And they ain’t kidding. Today we had the route inspection tour wherein a caravan of Toyota Land Rovers (note: I may have previously incorrectly identified them as Range Rovers) took us kilometer by kilometer of the entire marathon course. The whole thing had a weird theme park ride vibe with cars following the same track, echoes of gasps at forthcoming twists and turns and hills adding to the excitement and anticipation for our car. Some of the folks next to me thought it was straight out of Jurassic Park, complete with “dinosaur”-ish rhinos.
Before we set out, Albatros Adventures’ Lars gave us a pre-race talk bat safety, course details, and odds and ends. As part of it, he let us know about bathrooms — “they’re everywhere!” he exclaimed, gesturing toward the surrounding bush. “But if you want privacy, there are two along the course.”
As for safety, tonight the Rangers will go into the reserve and scout the lions. Once they find them, they’ll 1970s cop show style “sit on them” until the race starts so they know where they are. If they can’t find the lions, the race will not start until they do. I asked later how they corral the lions and keep them in one place. Basically they just keep tabs on them the night because come daybreak they’re sleepy and pretty much nap the day away. The reserve had three lions — a male and two females. And because there’s only one “pride” they can be anywhere in the reserve and not just in one location. Typically the females kick the male out and he’s left wondering what he did wrong — or basically mirroring my entire romantic life. So they’re basically looking for two pockets of lions in 60,000 acres of land. Harder than a needle in a haystack… Which really as many have pointed out lately isn’t all that hard — far harder would be finding a particular blade of hay in haystack. But I digress…
The road trip course review started a little before 10:30 am and we returned for lunch at 1:30 pm. So we did the 42.195k course in three hours… By car. I’m considering revising my goal time.
But critics and expectations are often wrong. Nearly all the pundits and prognosticators were calling for Great Britain to remain in the EU but today as I finally checked into the larger world via wifi, I found out that approximately 51% of Britons voted to leave. So Brexit is a real thing; PM Cameron has resigned effective in the autumn, and the world markets tumbled… None more so than the FTSE and the British Pound. Short sighted, isolationist xenophobia and racism won the day which worries me tremendously for the US elections come November.
But this is NOT a political blog and I try not to talk politics too often. This is a running blog and life blog and diary and who knows what else. It’s not a math blog (if only!) nor is it a blog about blogs (at least… I don’t think it is). So let’s talk running the Big Five Marathon.
It’s a lot hillier and sandier and tougher than I anticipated. Even scouring the elevation chart and course route maps, I wasn’t really prepared for the three hour trip. I’m not sure it was beneficial to see it all beforehand. I personally was exhausted from riding the course which makes me wonder how I will feel whilst running it! Mom has never seen an entire course I’ve run either… But she’s now completed the marathon via the jeep. I’m not sure if ignorance wasn’t bliss as she’s a little worried about me now. I’ve told her as I’ve told myself it’ll be fine. I’ve run tough courses before. I’ll get through this. It may be a super tough day but I’m fortunate, privileged, and lucky enough to be running THROUGH a game reserve so there’s no complaints here. Well… There MAY be curses and profanity aplenty on the hill back up from 25km to 28.5km but that’ll be between me, the bush, and the elephants.
Speaking of elephants, we had quite the encounter on the way out to a last minute run/walk this afternoon. I was using the run mainly as a means to stretch my legs after sitting in the jeep for three hours, but I very easily convinced mom to come along even if she didn’t want to walk as the drive out to the gates of the reserve where we can run usually proved to be a bonus game drive… And today was no exception.
As the sun set during the final miles before the marathon, I chatted with a few fellow runners. Hameed is from Los Angeles and is here with five or six other friends he met at the Great Wall Marathon.
It’s funny how often you meet people on the circuit of crazy runs. I met a delightful woman by the name of Tiggy Bailey at the Petra Marathon last year and she’s here at the Big Five. During lunch I caught up with her and heard about her recent Everest Marathon adventure — her photos are jaw dropping. She ran the race apparently with a Yak bell around her neck and is hoping to get into the Guiness Book of World Records. Under what category I’m not entirely clear on but still — awesome. You meet so many interesting, positive people at these events.
A father and son are raising money to build a library at a local school here in South Africa.
A Vancouver family is here, the mom and dad telling their grown children they’d go anywhere in the world if they all agreed to run a race there… And so here they are.
And then there’s my Mom. I got her a new camera with a great zoom on it and she’s shooting National Geographic worthy pics. She’s hopping in and out of the Land Rovers and trekking along like Indiana Jones, Alan Quartermain, Lara Croft, and Joan Wilder all rolled into one. I’m so proud of her for coming with me on this adventure and embracing the kinda weird vibes of Adventure Marathoning. It’s odd that we have to be driven by jeep back and forth to our rooms, that we are so isolated. But it’s also kinda great. I wouldn’t want to do this ALL the time but for this week, it’s crazy cool… And I think Mom is having a great time. She’s awesome and deserves some fun crazy things… Especially considering all she’s put up with me throughout the years!
There’s a saying here — “T.I.A. – This is Africa.” It’s supposed to mean essentially that we’re on island time equivalent here in Africa, “Hakuna Matata”or “it is what it is” or maybe even “what can I say, man, sometimes it doesn’t work as planned or on schedule — this is Africa!” But to me it also means, “take a breath, take a moment, this is a different place and you need to appreciate that you’re here, that you get to see this, and that you get to share this with your mom.”
This is Africa. And I’m lucky to be here.
Note: my definition will change from km 25 to 28.5 when I will probably be thinking aloud, “THIS FREAKIN’ AFRICA AND IT’S FREAKIN’ HILLS OF DOOM! WHAT THE FUDGE AM I DOING HERE? WHO THE FLYING FIG THOUGHT A MARATHON SHOULD BE RUN ON THIS MISTER FALCON HILL?!”
Only there may be a few slightly different colorful metaphors in there.
Well double dumb ass on you! — Admiral James T. Kirk to a late 20th Century San Francisco cabbie in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home