Date : 5th March, 2014
Time : 54’14” (Flooded, crowded, uneven surfaces abounded)
Total Distance Run to date : 140 km
Run map and details : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/460279052
Liz’s last words as I walked out the door in London were “Don’t take any risks”. Was I about to break that commandment?
The guy on reception at the hotel in Maputo seemed very uncomfortable with the idea that I was planning to go for a 10km run into town. Clearly he didn’t want one of his guests leaving the hotel compound. Because I ought to spend all my dollars at the hotel? Or because I’d get mugged on the mean streets of Maputo?
I was trying to work out how serious the threat was when someone else in the lobby overheard the conversation and introduced himself. Turned out to be a chili farmer who lived in Maputo. He told me he often went out for jogs and that I should be fine. Probably safer than London I joked. ‘I wouldn’t go that far’ he said – a little too seriously for my liking.
Anyway, I followed his advice and ran along the coast to the Gustav Eiffel designed train station – pics above and below. (Research when I got home revealed that it was actually designed by one of Eiffel’s associates rather than the great man himself.)
From there I turned into the centre of town and headed up Avenida Guerra Popular, before turning right along Avenida 24 de Julho (celebrating Mozambique’s first day of formal independence from Portugal), crossing Avenida Karl Marx and Avenida Vladimir Lenine and finishing just before I got to Avenida Julius Nyerere. Sadly I never made it as far as Avenida Mao Tse Tung or Avenida Kim Il Sung but Maputo is full of reminders of Mozambique’s recent history as a country that fought both an anti-colonial war and then a brutal ‘Cold War by proxy’ civil war.
Despite the street names, it was an uneventful if surprisingly painful run. It didn’t feel like my second 10km in a 24 hour period. It felt like the 11th – 20th kilometres of a single run. Not sure why it struggled so much. Lack of sleep? Lack of proper nourishment / hydration? Who knows but I was mightily relieved to get it over with.
Once back at the hotel I caught up with the guy on reception and told him my route. “Weren’t you scared?” was his immediate response.
Had I been in real danger or was it just that most guests wouldn’t venture out on their own in the centre of town? Further questioning only drew an enigmatic smile so I don’t really know.
For what it’s worth, although some of the streets of Maputo were crowded, I didn’t have any hassle and I didn’t sense any hostility. The biggest danger came from a couple of cars not doing quite what I expected.
Running in every country in the world will, I’m sure, involve risks but I don’t think there were many in Maputo that grey wet afternoon.