2012 Kilimanjaro Marathon

It was a rough start for the marathon. The guard dog barked incessantly all night and then a massive thunderstorm sat right on top of us until we got up at 5am. We were sitting around half-awake eating breakfast when Jean comes in and tells us that we need to push the bus out of the mud. He wasn’t joking.

You know when mud builds up on your feet like snowshoes? Yeah, too bad I washed my running shoes.

We ended up piling into a daladala covered in mud. As soon as the last few passengers crawled out at their stops, the yelling began. Ten stressed out, tired wazungus are not so kind first thing in the morning. The driver had no idea where the stadium was, so we followed the stream of runners and taxis, with multiple wrong turns and getting stuck in traffic. We paid him 10,000 Tanzanian shillings, a far cry from the 300 Tsh each he gets for his regular route. Jean, Ishwar, Dan and Eddie, who were running the full, leapt out of the vehicle seven minutes before the start time.

Luckily the race was delayed half an hour (TIT… This Is Tanzania – I’m impressed it wasn’t later).

Originally I was the only VSO running the half marathon but at the last minute, Liesbeth and Fran decided to join me. They’re insane to do it on a day’s notice but Liesbeth does a lot of cycling and Fran has been a runner all her life. And I was so glad of the company!

We started slowly; this is not a rugby game, I didn’t need to pump up with “Move Bitch”. We ran through the suburbs of Moshi, climbing slowly past children, cook fires, the smell of shit, burning garbage and goats wafting in the air. The altitude differential from the start to the turn-around point was about 500m but it felt fine. All my hillwork really paid off; I passed people on every ascent. As we climbed we moved from traditional African-style homes to more colonial surroundings, coffee plantations in neat rows on both sides of the road.

We turned around at 10k and ran back along the same stretch of road. It wasn’t boring because of the people still running up, also the full marathon covered the same route for the second half of their run so we saw them coming through: the Kenyans… the first woman runner… the first white guy… the first mzungu woman…. Also, the guy running with his dog, the girl in the red tutu, the guy in cargo shorts and a Canada shirt, people running in jeans, people gasping for air or just cruising. To pass fellow VSO’s and high five was awesome. You really get to know fellow runners too, from running alongside them and having a brief chat before one of you moves off.

I finished in 2:07:31, first of the VSO’s and company (a friend of Jean’s ran too but I beat him ; ) ). I felt ready to run it again although all of us had some seriously sore knees and hips from busting it downhill on pavement for 10+k. In the full, Ishwar and Jean finished in style and our VSO Kenya guests (Dan and Eddie) came through shortly after them. Of course nobody got pictures of me running… but here I am at the finish:

It was such a great weekend. The lodge where we stayed was beautiful (Honey Badger) and everyone got thrown in the pool (except Liesbeth… she’ll get it next time for sure). The boys even threw in the randos who were hanging out by the pool. Everyone was part of the VSO family during this event!

Don’t worry. All the money we raised goes toward education… but sometimes being a VSO volunteer doesn’t look so bad!

*Thanks to Lesley Reader among others for the photos – I took the weekend off photography