Date : 10th March, 2014
Time : 58’37” (Very hot ; second 10km run in the day)
Total Distance Run to date : 200 km
Run map and details : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/460278986
I never get lost. But I’m lost. I’ve just done a week’s skiing without falling over once. But I’ve fallen over.
I’m so discombobulated by the heat and my tiredness that I can’t think straight.
It all started at 5.40 that morning when I got up after a lousy night’s sleep (noisy neighbour returning at 1am ; call to prayer from the local mosque at 5am). At the time, I thought I was just going for an early morning run in Botswana and that I’d be back for a late breakfast and a mid-morning kip.
However, as per my previous blog, we decided in Kasane, after my Botswanan run, to go for a second run in the day in Namibia. A taxi, 2 sets of customs and a pontoon later and we were back in Zambia and in Saidi’s car for the drive to the Namibian border.
And a long drive it is. Partly because of the distance – 200km – and partly because of the networks of potholes that get steadily worse as we get closer to Namibia. The people, cyclists and farm animals don’t help either.
But at least the big fat snake that we see had been crushed by an earlier vehicle. I hate snakes and make a strong note to self to stay out of the grass after Saidi told me how common they were in Zambia.
Eventually we get to Sesheke, the border town on the Zambian side and start the process of going through Zambian and Namibian border controls (pic above). After bureaucracy that would make the UK Border Agency look good, we’re through and heading towards the centre of Katima Mulillo. We park, grab some food and water, apply liberal amounts of sun block and I’m ready to go.
I’m sure there are plenty of hotter days in Namibia but I can tell you that no-one else is doing anything strenuous that afternoon. Let alone setting off on a second 10 km run in the day.
The first thing I do is cross the street and run straight into a wire strung between 2 bollards that some workmen are using to help them paint straight. I retreat gingerly, regain my dignity and set off again.
It’s hot and I’m immediately sweating from every pore. I decide to up my water breaks to once per kilometre. Doesn’t make for a fast run but who cares?
I run out of town, turn right and run for about 4km. I find somewhere that balances privacy and my fear of snakes for a dehydratedly brief call of nature. And turn round knowing that all I’ve got to do is to retrace my steps with an added loop somewhere to take me to 10km.
And then I fall flat on my face. Glasses go flying and sand now coats my sun blocked limbs. I look round to see what I’ve fallen over and can’t see anything. Mind you, I’m hardly lifting my feet much at this stage.
Bit more dignity regaining and I set off again, trying desperately not to look at my Garmin more than once every 500m. Sooner or later I begin to think that I’ve been running in the same direction for a long time. But is that because I’m going slow or because I’ve missed the one turn I had to make?
I start to ask passers by the way but I’m hampered by the fact that I can’t actually remember the name of the town that I started from. Then I recall that we’d parked at a shopping centre and perhaps that aren’t that many shopping centres in the vicinity.
I find someone who can work out what I mean by ‘shopping centre’ and they point me down a dirt road. For, yes, I really have somehow managed to miss the one turn I had to make.
My new found saviour’s directions turn out to be correct and I eventually limp back into Katima Mulillo. By the end of the 10 km I can hardly walk and I’d swear that my never-that-meaty-to-begin-with arms and legs have visibly shrunk.
Water, food, rest. Slump into car seat and spread sand everywhere. Multiple border posts, potholes and police stops later we finally get home. 14 hours after we set out. The look on the face of Bronnah, proprietress of the Tabonina Guesthouse, as I get out of the car confirms just how bad I look.
But I’ve done it. All 8 runs of my southern African tour are done – in a lapsed time of 6 days. And I don’t have to go on a single run or flight the next day. Luxury.