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Date : 16th November, 2016
Time : 59’ 18” (11’ 35” + 47’ 43”)
Total distance run to date : 900 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1458667010
You can’t fly directly from Senegal to Benin – you have to change flights in Abidjan.
When Luke, the ever patient travel agent, first put together my itinerary I didn’t think much about it. Just another minor inconvenience of the sort that are part and parcel of international travel.
However, as the day approached, it occurred to me that I might, if I was lucky, be able to use the stopover to get my Ivory Coast run done. However, since there was only a 90 minute window between landing and take –off, and I’d need to get through customs and security, it was going to be a very close run thing (pun intended).
The first bit went well – we landed on schedule at 18.10. However, as everyone knows, there’s a difference between when you land and when you get off a plane. (Everyone apart my cab company that is, who always arrive at the time I land and then decide they need to charge me waiting time…)
The plane has to taxi to the gate. Someone has to be ready gate side to let you in. And then there’s that incredibly slow disembarkation process as passengers collect their bags and shuffle off. While muggins here, inevitably in economy, strains at his leash and watches the minutes tick by.
Its 18.25 by the time I get off the plane which, assuming I have to get on my departing flight 15 minutes before take-off, means I’ve got an hour for my run. Everything will need to go perfectly if I’m going to complete the 10 km and make my flight.
As soon as I’m off the plane, I press the relevant buttons on my Garmin to start recording time and distance – but nothing happens. I can’t get a lock on the satellite. Disaster!
Eventually, after what seems like hours, but is really only minutes, I find somewhere that the satellite can reach, start my Garmin and head off towards customs. A fast walk is the best I can do at this stage as I’ve got my flight bag and the corridor is full of people. We get to passport control. Disaster no 2. There’s a queue!
There’s simply not enough time to spend five minutes in a queue going 50 meters so I walk up and down beside the queue attracting numerous odd looks… and then laughs when I explain my behaviour to the passport officer.
Next up is security. Thankfully, there’s no queue but I do have to take my Garmin off and put it in my flight bag. Disaster no 3! Putting the Garmin in my bag has knocked something and when I retrieve it from my bag it’s no longer recording time and distance! I’ve only done 1.25 km so far and I can’t get locked back on to the satellite.
Through the retail and dining sections as fast as I can, wasting time and previous metres, until I reach the departure lounge where I can get the satellite again.
By now the maths don’t really stack up. I don’t think I can run fast enough to complete the remaining 8.75 km before my flight. At this stage, I’ve got a choice. I can either give up or keep running and hope something works out.
The second option’s not great because, if I fall short, I’ll have run 8 or 9 km for nothing. And my body really doesn’t need that.
I decide to give it a go anyway and find an end of the lounge with slightly fewer people. The only route that doesn’t disturb too many people, while allowing me to keep an eye on my bag, is a small triangle that involves running around an area of seating.
The corners are tight and it’s not made for fast running. I’m struggling to get close to 5 minutes per kilometres, let alone the 4’ 45” pace that I need by now.
The area fills up a bit and it strikes me that having a sweaty bloke continuously running in circles round you must be quite annoying. I stop to explain what I’m doing and get a load of smiles and encouragement. That makes me feel better and I set off with renewed purpose.
At 6 km they start calling my flight. By 8 km, it’s the final call. And then they’re announcing the names of the final remaining passengers.
I tell myself that its OK to keep running as long as I’m not delaying anything. In other words, I can run until the final (other) passenger makes it to the gate.
With 1 km to go, we’re down to the last 3 passengers so I sprint down to the other end of the lounge (where my gate is) and try to explain to the people at the desk what I’m doing – while running in circles as fast as I can.
2 passengers remaining and ½ km to go. Someone notices my bag dumped on a row of seats and starts to ask questions. I run over and explain that its mine. I don’t have time for unnecessary security alerts!
The final (other) passenger arrives and it’s time for one last sprint. Made it. Just.
Bathed in sweat I run onto the plane just in time for the scheduled departure.
Only to sit there on the tarmac for half an hour while they sort out some undefined problem….Never mind. At least that’s another country ticked off. And it was unexpected so it feels particularly good !
Finally, here’s the World Bank data for Cote d’Ivoire – with the year 2000 as a comparison. Amazing how much things can change – mostly for the better – in 15 years.
Population 22.70 million 2015 16.52 million 2000
GDP $31.75 billion 2015 $10.72 billion 2000
GDP Growth 9.0% 2014 0.1% 2001
GIN per capita $1410 2015 $640 2000
% below poverty line 46.3 2015 38.4 2002
Life expectancy at birth 51.6 years 2014 46.7 2000
Primary school enrolment 89.6% 2014 74.3% 2000