Can’t say my Kuwaiti trip started well. After 14 hours of travel I arrived at Kuwait airport to be met by rain, a long wait for a visa, a malfunctioning cash machine, a temporarily lost bag and a ‘competitive’ taxi environment.
Jet-lag, an early call to prayer from the nearby mosque, and a hotel neighbour with a jarring taste in loud music put paid to the night’s sleep. But, as ever, once you start running none of it seems important. Especially when the sun is shining and you’re running along the Corniche with 7 other people you’ve just met at a photo call at the British Embassy.
If you’re interested to see some media coverage from the photo call, the Arab Times did a nice piece with a couple of pics – http://www.arabtimesonline.com/Portals/0/PDF_Files/pdf14/jan/17/02.pdf
These runs are a great chance to chat and learn about the country you’ve just arrived in. My image of Kuwait was stuck in 1990-91 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and a US led coalition kicked him out in what some in the West call Gulf War I.
Needless to say, plenty has changed since then as the wealth has kept pumping out of the oil fields. The standard of living among Kuwaiti nationals is high and there’s much about Kuwaiti life that seems exotic – from the world’s longest mall to unscheduled public holidays, from camel races featuring robot jockeys to lions and cheetahs as domestic pets.
There are also some depressingly familiar issues with obesity and diabetes apparently being problematic – just as they are in the UK.
One of the main aims of Run the World is to promote the importance of physical exercise and activity. At Gold Challenge (the company I chair), we spend a lot of time thinking about how to get people more active in the UK. And I like to think we have learnt some valuable lessons, and had some real success, with our Olympic themed Challenges and our Take12 Challenge. Can we take those lessons and apply them on an international scale? Something to think about on my upcoming runs.
In the meantime let me finish by thanking British Ambassador Frank Baker and David Pardy and Tom Shepherd at the British Embassy for all their support and help arranging the photo call and the run. Further thanks to everyone else who ran with me and to David and Sarah for their great hospitality and for showing me the traditional (Souk Al Mubarakiya) and modern (Avenues Mall) faces of Kuwait City. Good luck Annie Gabriel with your challenge to be active every day and hope to see you all in London for a run one of these days!
Date : 16th January, 2014
Time : 58’55”
Total Distance Run to date : 80 km