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Date : 9th February, 2019
Time : 59’ 36”
Number of runners (total to date) : 23 (3456)
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3382173725
It was 4.15 am in Niamey and the hotel guard was, understandably, not overjoyed at being woken up. He picked up his machete and carefully opened the door to the outside world. He looked left and right and turned to me and said, “C’est dangereux.”*
That was enough to set the blood tingling and I think it’s fair to say that, despite the lack of sleep, my senses were fully awake for the ten minute walk to our rendez-vous at La Cabane. I arrived a little early and wished I hadn’t. The streets were empty – apart from the odd early riser / late night reveller and an armoured jeep or two full of soldiers – and I was feeling distinctly uncomfortable.
Then a car pulled up. And another. And another. Claire – who’d very kindly organised the run – and Jeroen and a number of others had arrived and the morning went from ‘this is scary – what am I doing here’ to normal in an instant.
From La Cabane we made our way down to the river Niger, picking up other runners including a group of gendarmerie (Jeroen had somehow persuaded them that a 5 am run along the river should be part of their training regime.)
There were about 23 of us at the start and, for some reason, the word that came to mind to describe the temperature was delicious. It really was perfect for running. And, although it was dark, it was also, as Claire said, magical. The stars were out and there was just enough light to get occasional glimpses of the paddy fields on one side of the dyke we were running along. The picture below really doesn’t do it justice.
The lack of light didn’t seem to bother the gendarmerie who set off at their own pace without any lights. Personally, I needed to run next to someone with a head torch if I was to avoid falling flat on my face. And so the rest of us ran, and chatted, together for the next 10 km knowing that there was water on either side of the path without being able to see it.
My fellow runners mostly worked for UN agencies or NGOs in areas ranging from conflict resolution to aid to education. Committed people from all over the world looking to do some good in a country which hasn’t had the easiest of times in recent years.
We finished the run at about 6 am when it was time for some quick final photos and a lift back to my hotel with Jeroen as I tried to stick to my ’an early start then 14 hours of travel thanks to Ethiopian Airlines delaying their flight by 48 hours at the last minute’ schedule.
As I’d arrived late the previous evening, I’d hardly seen anything of Niger – which was an enormous shame. But I had met a lot of great people and gone for a great run. (I did manage to shoot a bit of footage from my taxi window on the way to the airport – below.)
Many, many thanks to Claire, Jeroen, the gendarmerie and all my fellow runners for making the effort to get up so early for the run. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and please come and join us in London on 4th July 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!
If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11
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Facts & Stats
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
Niger is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River. Niger is bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin to the southwest, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest. Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2 (490,000 sq mi), making it the largest country in West Africa. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara Desert. The country’s predominantly Islamic population of about 21 million live mostly in clusters in the far south and west of the country. The capital city is Niamey, located in Niger’s southwest corner.
Niger is a developing country, which consistently ranks near the bottom in the United Nations‘ Human Development Index (HDI); it was ranked 187th of 188 countries for 2015 and 189th out of 189 countries in the 2018 report. Much of the non-desert portions of the country are threatened by periodic drought and desertification. The economy is concentrated around subsistence, with some export agriculture in the more fertile south, and export of raw materials, especially uranium ore. Niger faces serious challenges to development due to its landlocked position, desert terrain, inefficient agriculture, high fertility rates without birth control, and the resulting overpopulation, the poor educational level and the poverty of its people, the lack of infrastructure, the poor health care, and the environmental degradation.
Nigerien society reflects a diversity drawn from the long independent histories of its several ethnic groups and regions and their relatively short period living in a single state. Historically, what is now Niger has been on the fringes of several large states. Since independence, Nigeriens have lived under five constitutions and three periods of military rule. After the military coup in 2010, Niger became a democratic, multi-party state. A majority of the population lives in rural areas, and have little access to advanced education.
World Bank Data
Here’s the latest World Bank data for Niger – with the year 2000 as a comparison.
|GDP||$8.1 bn||2017||$1.8 bn||2000|
|Population||21.5 m||2017||11.4 m||2000|
|Primary school enrolment*||75%||2017||32%||2000|
|% below poverty line***||44.5%||2014||48.9%||2011|
|Life expectancy at birth||60.1 yrs||2016||48.8 yrs||2000|
|GNI per capita||$360||2017||$170||2000|
*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students
** Metric tons per capita
***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While much of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)
Greatest Sporting Nation Data
Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how Niger performed in the global sporting arena in 2018:
Global Cup – NA
Per Capita Cup – NA
The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.