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Date : 10th May, 2016
Time : 1h 10’ 01”
Total distance run to date : 760 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1173820647
The wonderful Deena and her fellow Wednesday Project-ers were debating the route with Mengistu from the British Embassy. There were a number of factors to consider including the recent wet weather, the evening pollution, the time of day. As an Addis novice, there didn’t seem to be much I could contribute, so I stayed out of it.
Big mistake. Addis, at 2355 metres, is the fifth highest capital in the world (after la Paz in Bolivia, Quito in Ecuador, Thimphu in Bhutan and Bogota in Colombia). And I wasn’t remotely acclimatised.
The chosen route went up from the Embassy. And up and up. Really quite steeply.
I occasionally stop briefly during my runs for a red light, to tie a shoelace, or to take a picture. But I don’t think I’ve ever stopped because my body couldn’t take it.
However, as I listened to my heart pounding away in the thin air, I began to get a little worried. I remarked upon it to Kimmo who was running alongside me. He told me his heart rate was 171 – and he’s an Addis resident and, dare I say it, a touch younger than me.
I wasn’t wearing a heart rate monitor but I’d guess my heart was going a lot faster than Kimmo’s. Probably close to 200 bpm. It’s not an exact science but one general guideline is that you shouldn’t push your heart rate over 150.
Eventually, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and just stopped. More than once if I’m honest. Wisdom, or weakness, you decide.
It meant I had no chance of meeting my usual target of completing the run in under an hour. But it did mean I actually got to the high point of the run at the best part of 2800 metres. (Mengistu’s shepherding may also have had something to do with it.)
At which point I started to appreciate what a fabulous run it was. Not just because of the views over Addis, the beautiful countryside and the chance to see local village life. But also because the Yeka hills are where many of the great Ethiopian distance runners train.
Per Greatest Sporting Nation, Ethiopia is currently the best country in the world at marathons. I’m not surprised. If you can run up those hills, at that altitude, then a flat, sea level run is going to be a doddle.
The company was also excellent. Both during the run and afterwards over a quality spag bol. Thank you Deena, Girmaye, Kimmo, Signe, Mesfin, Barbara and Mengistu. And thank you Saba and Kassa at the British Embassy for all your support.
Hope we’ll all run together again one day!
And finally thank you to the Jupiter International hotel who helped me throughout my time in Addis. Your early check-in after my overnight flight from London was a life saver!