Run 167 : Cameroon – Douala

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Date : 11th February, 2019

Time : 56’ 21”

Number of runners (total to date) : 95 (3554)

Run map and details :

Media : ; Cameroon Tribune (article below) ; Mutations (article below) ; Canal 2 International

In some ways the visit to the cancer ward at Douala’s Laquintinie Hospital felt familiar. There was that mixture of braveness and poignancy that I’ve experienced many times before when meeting cancer sufferers. And the knowledge that sometimes the cancer has gone too far and all that can be done is to try to convey support and warmth while fervently hoping that the end will be as dignified and pain free as possible.

But it was also different from, for example, the UK (my home country) in terms of the resources available to treat and help patients. Laquintinie can offer chemotherapy but not radiotherapy. And there’s no morphine available for pain relief. The thought of dealing with cancer without the strongest possible pain relief is, well, words literally fail me.

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Much as I’d like there to be, there is no simple answer to these issues. No country in the world has the resources to provide all their citizens with the optimal health care for their individual requirements. Brutal choices always have to be made.

Prevention is perhaps the ideal – and that’s a big part of why I do my healthy living talks. Not that healthy living offers any guarantees – but it does significantly reduce the chance of cancer. And heart disease, diabetes, depression and dementia.

That afternoon’s Run the World healthy living talk was at PSS Douala – which seemed a particularity appropriate place to talk as it was National Youth Day in Cameroon.

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The headmaster told me there were about 400 students in the room and, judging from the numbers fanning themselves, and the state of my shirt afterwards, it was warm. So I’m very grateful to the audience for their attention and their participation.

Regular readers will know that many of my school audiences manage to come up with a question I haven’t heard before and the PSS Douala students were no exception. I was asked about Tramadol which is part of the global opiate crisis and much abused in Cameroon. It can cause mental illness, aggressive behaviour and even death. To any students reading this – please, please, please avoid at all costs. (President Biya had also referenced the importance of combating drug abuse in his National Youth Day speech the previous evening .)

After the talk we were fortunate to be joined at the school by Divisional Officer Mr. Jean-Marc Ekoa Mbarga and his team who provided us with fantastic logistical support including transport, gendarmerie and an ambulance.

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We all posed for pictures

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and then as many of us as possible piled into the available transport and set off for the run start point. Two quick press interviews

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and then about 95 of us set off behind a motor bike and a jeep provided by the local gendarmerie.

The first 4 kilometres of the run were great – chatting with fellow runners and doing a bit of filming.

But then things got tougher. I don’t know if it was the heat, dehydration, the fact that it was my sixth run in 6 days, the lack of sleep on the trip – or a combination of all of the above. In any event my pace dipped from sub 5 minutes per kilometre to nearer 6 minutes per kilometre. And even that really hurt.

I’m very grateful to the student (and footballer) who stayed with me over the last 3 kilometres and got me to the end.

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Water, photos, goodbyes and doughnuts (courtesy of the British High Commission) followed before we set off back into Douala to the Canal 2 studios for interviews with British High Commissioner Rowan Laxton and myself

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and then dinner and a very welcome return to my bed!

Days like this don’t happen without a lot of people putting in a lot of work. I’d particularly like to thank : British High Commissioner Rowan Laxton, Noela Lyonga and Mireille Djob for all the organisation, support and company. Director of the Douala Lacquintinie Hospital, Prof. Louis Richard Njock, Dr. Fonkwa Celestin, Head of the Oncology Ward, and all the staff and patients at the Lacquintinie Hospital for showing us around and educating us about cancer in Cameroon. Principal Dr. Hans Bokwe Itoe and all the staff and students at PSS Douala for the warm welcome and for joining us on the run. Divisional Officer (DO) Mr. Jean-Marc Ekoa Mbarga ; Michel Welland, PA to the DO ; Yves Sylvain Minko, Operational Supervisor of  Gendarmerie ; and Roy Attah, Police Superintendent in charge of the 15th District ; and their teams for the excellent logistical and moral support.

It really was a fantastic day and I hope that as many as possible of you will stay by touch via social media – please see the links below. Should you ever find yourself in London, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I would love to reciprocate some of the hospitality and welcome I received in Douala!

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 :

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

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Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Cameroon is a country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west and north; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial GuineaGabon and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon’s coastline lies on the Bight of Biafra, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Although Cameroon is not an ECOWAS member state, it geographically and historically is in West Africa with the Southern Cameroons which now form her Northwest and Southwest Regions having a strong West African history. The country is sometimes identified as West African and other times as Central African due to its strategic position at the crossroads between West and Central Africa.

French and English are the official languages of Cameroon. The country is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” for its geological and cultural diversity. Natural features include beachesdesertsmountainsrainforests, and savannas. The highest point at almost 4,100 metres (13,500 ft) is Mount Cameroon in the Southwest Region of the country, and the largest cities in population-terms are Douala on the Wouri river, its economic capital and main seaport, Yaoundé, its political capital, and Garoua. The country is well known for its native styles of music, particularly makossa and bikutsi, and for its successful national football team.

Early inhabitants of the territory included the Sao civilisation around Lake Chad and the Baka hunter-gatherers in the southeastern rainforest. Portuguese explorers reached the coast in the 15th century and named the area Rio dos Camarões (Shrimp River), which became Cameroon in English. Fulani soldiers founded the Adamawa Emirate in the north in the 19th century, and various ethnic groups of the west and northwest established powerful chiefdoms and fondoms. Cameroon became a German colony in 1884 known as Kamerun.

After World War I, the territory was divided between France and the United Kingdom as League of Nations mandates. The Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) political party advocated independence, but was outlawed by France in the 1950s, leading to the Cameroonian Independence War fought between French and UPC militant forces until early 1971. In 1960, the French-administered part of Cameroon became independent as the Republic of Cameroun under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. The southern part of British Cameroons federated with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The federation was abandoned in 1972. The country was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984. Large numbers of Cameroonians live as subsistence farmers. Since 1982 Paul Biya has been President, governing with his Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement party. The country has experienced tensions coming from the English-speaking territories. Politicians in the English-speaking regions have advocated for greater decentralisation and even complete separation or independence (as in the Southern Cameroons National Council) from Cameroon.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for Cameroon – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP $34.9 bn 2017 $10.1 bn 2000
Population 24.1 m 2017 15.3 m 2000
Primary school enrolment* 113% 2007 87% 2000
CO2 Emissions** 0.32 2014 0.23 2000
% below poverty line*** 37.5% 2014 40.2% 2001
Life expectancy at birth 58.1 yrs 2016 50.0 yrs 2000
GNI per capita $1370 2017 $680 2006

*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 Cameroon performed in the global sporting arena in 2018:

Global Cup – 101st

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.


About Run the World

I'm running 10 km in every country in the world - a total of 205 countries - by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I'm doing the Run the World challenge to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to raise money for cancer research following the death of my mother from cancer. If you'd like to donate to Cancer Research - - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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2 Responses to Run 167 : Cameroon – Douala

  1. David MacAuslan says:

    Hi Dan! Keep up the good work – you are amazing. I had a meeting with my oncologist this morning, and he said that he can’t emphasise enough how important it is for cancer suffers to stay fit and to exercise as much as they can. The benefits can be huge. Like wot you said!

  2. Yes well done Dan, was this the biggest run yet? Really getting some traction now! Great admiration for you….JC

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