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Date : 10th May, 2018
Time : 1h 10’ 42”
Number of runners : 35
Total distance run to date : 1450 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2696705259
One of the perks of what I’m doing is that I get to meet lots of people who’ve done, or are doing, crazy challenges. However, in terms of scope, distance, danger, terrain and temperature, Joe’s challenge is the most extreme I’ve ever come across.
He’s planning to run north to south through every country in Africa. Yes, including the ones with deserts, jungles and ongoing civil wars.
And the man’s got previous. He’s already run through Egypt and Sudan. And would have completed Ethiopia as well except that he had to stop for medical reasons. Including a dodgy heart.
As a general rule, I wouldn’t want to dissuade anyone from taking on a challenge but – please be careful mate!
Having said all that, he’s one of the nicest blokes you could hope to meet and, together with the lovely Cholpon and Deniya, had arranged an excellent run for us in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
We started at the train station and, including the two runners we picked up en route, there were about 35 of us. Because of my flight schedule we didn’t meet till 20.30. So, by the time we’d taken a group photo or two, and said a welcoming word or two,
it was almost 21.00. Which meant that it was dark by the time we started running.
Which is a surprisingly good time to run in Bishkek. Partly because it was beautifully cool. But mostly because of the atmospheric lighting in the city centre which included various I heart Bishkek signs.
And the crowning glory – the lights in Ala-Too Square. Essentially these are thousands of neon tubes suspended in the air about 20 metres above the square. Which all change colour in a synchronised fashion. Remarkable.
Once through Ala-Too we headed back towards the station to finish our run and take a few post run photos – in our green ‘I Love Running Kyrgyzstan’ tops.
Fortunately, those of us who ran can experience it all again thanks to David’s beautifully shot video of the whole thing:
After the run, Simon and I went with Cholpon to meet some of her friends in a bar
where I was introduced to the shisha pipe. For anyone unfamiliar with this you are essentially smoking flavoured tobacco bubbled through water. It’s not for me – when all’s said and done its still tobacco – but I can see why the whole experience might be enjoyable…
It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Cholpon, Joe, David, Daniyar, I Love Running Kyrgyzstan and all my fellow runners for their company. I hope to see you all in London one of these days!
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