Running across Africa – blog 2

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All kinds of devices for solo running

So after having a thoroughly enjoyable break at Africat we were back on the road ready to attack some tar! It was great to see first hand what the money we raise will go toward but at the same time we all felt pretty happy to get back on the road and tackle the job we are here to do.

Day 12 – 50.03km

We made the most of our final breakfast at Africat and we were sent off with the biggest bag of muffins you have ever seen (although they only lasted three days with us hungry bunch!). The running seemed great today, not sure if that is due to having some time off my feet or the fact that the road was downhill. At lunch I could barely eat anything, I thing perhaps I overindulged at Africat.

Day 13 – 50.75km

Morning running was going really well today but then at lunch I really lost all motivation. I was annoyed as my Garmin GPS watch was broken so I was now carrying a handheld device which is made for being in the car. I dont really want to be carrying anything more than I need to while running, I already have a pack on my back which probably weighs 4-5kgs. I think Aysha felt sorry for me and gave me chocolate biscuits, she knows the way to my heart! In the aftertnoon we ran alongside the Waterberg Plateau, its really incredible to see. A massive cliff face way up above a thick forest that goes on for miles, possibly 50km. We pondered over climbing possibilities there.

Day 14 – 49.82km

Worst road surface today, deep sand, combined with wind and hills, aaagh! I just wanted to stop. But what would that achieve other than being stopped in a road. So I struggled on. I got to the lunch break and just lay still for a while. I have come to the realisation today that the wind picks up everyday between 10 and 12, and it is straight towards me. Need to change plan to run less at that time.

Day 15 – 49.58km

The wind from yesterday was no longer coming towards me but now coming out of me which made me really popular in the tent this morning!  There were a few healthy gusts!!  I ran alone for the first 8km, not as punishment, but because Mike took the oppurtunity to make a shelving unit for the back of the 4×4.  Aysha rode beside me for the second 8km and also provided me with an excessively salty porridge (you may have seen a video about this!), yum!  I was in agony with my knee again but this was eased slightly with a lunch of sausage and garlic mash, donated by the farm where we camped last night.  Really hot today.  Mince meat for dinner, also donated to us.  Meat = happy campers.  I got bitten on my lady bits today by a big scary fly while I was having a pee, they know how to get a girl when she’s vulnerable.

Day 16 – 45.32km

Change of schedule today. Not a good one.  I wanted to maximise the chance of going through a town without minimising mileage.  I ran 34km straight, before lunch so I could get into Grootfontein and get jobs done, and the team could do jobs while I was running.  It started off so well, I was bounding along for the first 17km until my knee gave in.  It then turned into a slow trot until eventually I just dragged myself along with all the willpower I could muster.  Also a giant blister, that I didn’t know I had, exploded from under my foot.  If you have never experienced that, which I hadn’t, it really hurts.  I queued for an hour in town to post my broken watch home.  On the plus side I did have a passionfruit ice lolly, refreshing.

Day 17 – 54.11km

Late start and strong winds.  Super annoying, I need to get running as early as possible to avoid these forceful winds.  This was the first day of a 257km straight tar road.  Not really very much to say really as it literally just a very long straight road.  Not my favourite kind of running!  We did manage to blag a night in a camp site which means we get to shower, woop woop!!

Day 18 – 54.20km

The alarm didnt go off.  This was no-ones fault but I became a right grumpy monster and started the day with the wrong attitude.  Shame on me.  Thankfully there was no wind and I eventually got over myself and enjoyed the day.  We had internet connection and received lots of encouraging messages on facebook which picked me up no end, thank you.  Aysha ran with me for a short time today, it’s really nice to have some company.  I also met some very enthusiastic African women.P1070480

Day 19 – 58.70km

In the middle of the night we could hear leaves rustling around the tent, within a few seconds the sound lifted and they were crashing into the tent. The ground sheet then picked up, the noise became louder and louder.  Everything on one side of the tent was thrown to the opposite.  Mike clung onto the ladder to the upper tent and I clung onto Mike.  Then all of a suddenly it was silent.  We survived the twister.  Thankfully we had seen one go down the road that evening so we werent too freaked out by it.  Annoyingly the twister alerted me to the pain in my legs so I lay there for ages trying to think of anything but the pain.  We are in the Kavango region now and the surroundings have really changed.  There are no more brick buildings, just many many straw houses beside the road.  The villages go on and on, the people are far more excited here, lots of laughing and singing etc.

Day 20 – 54.28km

There was a lightning storm last night and the air seems much clearer today, far less muggy.  I could tell that I was starting to get tired and worn out, as me and Mike had an argument today and I was almost in tears.  Its really stressful being so exhausted and trying not to upset people at the same time.  It cant be easy for him being beside me all day.  Had a good day for running in terms of  distance but had a lot of children begging for food and money while we were trying to relax so we were all tired.

Day 21 – 35.05km

Slept in Rundu last night so had to get up extra early to drive back to where I finished yesterday.  It was hard work getting the last bit of running completed before a day off.  Not sure if it is physical or mental but its really tough on me.  Eventually got a couple of kilometers before Rundu and called it a day.  We managed to get lots of jobs done in the afternoon, shopping, cleaning etc.  The rest is going to be well deserved.

Day 22 – 0km

Rest day

Not sure when we will next get to internet and have time to get the next couple of weeks updated for you, but keep following us. x

Running across Africa – blog 1

Sorry it has taken so long to get this first blog out there, as I’m sure you can imagine I have been quite tired and not been able to find time in amongst the hectic life of running and sleeping! And, I’m sure you can understand, internet access in the middle of nowhere is not so easy to find.  I have decided to keep it quite simple and show you the distance run each day and some highs and lows from my diary. I don’t have much experience of writing blogs so this may not be the best way to do it but I can adapt it the next time perhaps.

Day 1 – 37.70km

I wanted this trip to be coast to coast so I literally started in the sea at Henties Bay. The whole team got in the sea and we all had lots of childish fun and giggles, splashing around. The energy was great, a real sense of the journey beginning. The environment is real desert, you can see for miles, nothing but a flat horizon and sandy, sandy ground. Not easy running. I managed to pull my left quad while attempting to stretch, good start to the trip. We set up our camp on a puff adder’s home which was a nice surprise for us all!

Day 2 – 45.08km

Woke up in a soaked sleeping bag, delightful. There is a lot of moisture in our tent considering we are in the desert. Morning running was cold but extremely refreshing. The air outside was also really wet, my face was dripping as I ran. Legs: seriously stiff. As soon as the sun came up the mist lifted and I felt like a new woman bounding along. This was ruined after breakfast when the wind was directly in my face for the rest of the day, the sand was deep and the sun blistering. Aaagh! Seriously tight calves.DSC01270

Day 3 – 46.36km

Ran through Spitskoppe, this place is stunning. Huge, towering boulders surrounded us for miles around. We noticed some routes were bolted, and there were chalk marks, no climbers to be seen though. Would be great to return and climb here. The running got really hard after breakfast. Hot, sandy, windy. I had drunk plenty of water but hadn’t had any salt today and suddenly I felt horrendous. Mike was a hero and set up a shelter for me within seconds. I lay down, ate a Clif Bar, dozed off for ten minutes and woke up feeling perfect again. In the evening I studied the maps closer than I had before and decided that to get the best route I should back-track 7km which is slightly annoying but would be best overall.

Day 4 – 42.17km

Running today would have been perfect if it wasn’t for my right knee that had been hurting for a day at least. I am feeling acclimatized and energetic but just in pain. In the evening we thought we might get attacked by bandits. As we were sorting things out in our camp, which was hidden in some bush-land, what sounded like two men on horses came down the road noisily. They stopped alongside our camp, got off there horses and walked into to bush towards us. We switched off our lights and stood in silence. A car came along, there was some chatting and the horses went. It sounded like the men were still by the camp though. After some time of being stood in silence we decided we were being daft and we should just pack up quickly and go to sleep. Me and Mike slept in our separate two-man tent and the others slept in the car as they were leaving at 4am to sort visas. Once everybody was in bed, me and Mike heard footsteps outside our tent, without saying anything we prepared ourselves for danger. Mike lay with a knife in his hand and I held the pepper spray. Just silence. Again, after some time of laying there we felt stupid so decided sleeping was a better idea. We are still alive.

Day 5 – 46.59km

Aysha and Woocash left with Robert at 04:00 so they could take him for his visa run. My knee felt really stiff this morning, again, this was annoying as I otherwise felt on top form. I had a good day running. Robert returned with the bad news that his visa could not be extended so he must leave us tomorrow but will hopefully return as soon as he can. We slept in a rhino and elephant reserve this evening. Aysha and Robert slept in the car and I slept in the rooftop tent with Woocash and Mike. At about midnight I felt the tent rocking and woke up. The boys unbelievably slept straight through. There was the sound of an animal trotting down the road a short distance and then returning to the car. It would scrape at the floor with a foot, give a little grunt and then nudge the car which was causing the tent to rock. It would move around the car and do the same again. This continued for at least half an hour. The boys just kept sleeping. I felt like an orchestra conductor giving each of them a small prod every time their snoring began to reach a croshendo. I am hoping that our visitor was a rhino but i’ll never know. Whoever it was they took Mike’s smelly flip flops as a souvenir.

Day 6 – 38.00km

Half way through my first running session today I suddenly felt crippled. My knee that had been causing me some problems seized up and it was excruciating to move. I could barely walk let alone run. I was doubled over in agony, the kind of pain that makes you feel like you might vomit. This was terrible. I felt so annoyed with myself. I was just hoping that continuing to run on a bad knee hadn’t made it worse. I slowly started to jog and as I got warmed up it eased off but each time I stopped it would go back to being stiff again. This is frustrating as it’s so hot that I need to stop to hydrate otherwise I’d have a whole load of other problems. I decided to have an easier day and lowered my mileage. I also changed my stretching routine which will hopefully help.

Day 7 – 48.57km

All four of us slept in the tent last night, this is overcapacity I think as I woke up with condensation dripping on my head and my sleeping bag soaked, delightful. Had a good days running though I was worried about my knee but it seemed to be holding up. We had been running through a hunting area all day which apparently isn’t safe for roadside sleeping so we drove around looking for somewhere to sleep. Eventually we found a guest house to sleep outside, they were actually closed but the lovely owners invited us in for dinner. They were actually from Manchester but live in Namibia and they had heard us on the radio this morning (must have been repeated from a while ago).

Day 8 – 50.74km

Had a really bad nights sleep on the back seat of the car. My legs are so restless in the night from the high mileage that I’m doing. Having them squashed up in the night isn’t really a good option. The morning began badly, no energy, tired legs, felt like I dragged myself around. Then, later on I felt proper chipper, managed to get my longest mileage in so far. I did loads of stretching, loads of foam rolling and got lots of massage. Aysha made a delicious pilchard curry for dinner, yum.

Day 9 – 41.63km

This was the first day that I have had to run on a tar road, all the rest has been sand and gravel. I changed into my road shoes when I met the tar at 5km, this was a disaster. I had the same problems that I have experienced at home before, the feeling of a pebble under the bone in my foot. I think its called ‘Metatarsalgia’. Whatever its called, it’s really not pleasant. As soon as we met up with the car again the road shoes were off and trail shoes back on, I’ll just continue to run on the dirt at the side of the road. Road shoes and road running are clearly just not for me, I’m much better off playing in the mud and dirt! By about 15:00 the time had come, I had completed almost 400km and I was due a day off. We had been invited to stay at Africat, one of the beneficiaries of Tusk who we are raising money for.

Day 10 and 11- 0km

Africat – lots of interviews and learning about the charity.

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I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all the sponsors that have helped this trip to be possible.  A massive thank you goes to the Head Over Heels team who help me out each step of the way, these guys are meticulous with their care and attention, love and support. A special thank you goes to Michelle Pennell and Michael Whitehurst, thank you Michelle for training Mike in physio, he has been massaging my legs everyday and I really doubt they would still be moving without this treatment. Big love to everybody.