Inspired by Banff film festival and after a touch of tequila, Emma and I thought she should run from the west coast of Africa to the east. This is our story of dreaming up the idea, researching it, planning, training and running the distance.
Emma had a planned a day off in Tete, which is lucky as she has had no sleep. In addition, her shorts soaked in oil from her daily massages, are frying her legs in the sun. We take the opportunity to wash them as well as possible. Mike and Woocash are not able to support Emma, so Robert will become her companion and guard. Robert has not ridden a bicycle for years but he steps up to the challenge admirably.
At dawn, I drive Emma and Robert the mile or so to where she stopped 36 hours before. As they are about to set off a policeman arrives demanding to see I.D. and saying there will be a fine if we cannot produce them. It causes a slight delay whilst I zip back to fetch their passports. Later in the afternoon, I pick them up 60km down the road and bring them back to sleep in Tete. At 2.30am, the next morning, we drive for 1.5 hrs out the silent dark city and through the dark countryside. The sun is sending its first rays as we arrive where Emma and Robert will start their day.
Emma and I in matching oufits!
Emma and Robert set off into the heat whilst Woocash and I head back to collect Mike. In the afternoon, there are some steep hills on the route and we are all wondering how Robert has coped. (We know that Emma will be fine, although I still think the hills are pretty big). Robert is exhausted when we find them and Mike discovers he has done 55km up and down hills with one of the brakes on! Mike says Alfredo, the bicycle, is misbehaving with out him. Robert and Emma are both an inspiration today.
How many seats on your bike?
Sunsetting and we still haven’t found Emma and Robert!
We are surrounded by tilled fields and wondering where to put up camp when a local man, kindly, says that it is fine to park on his field and sleep there.
Day 69 distance run: 60.57 km, 37.63 miles Day 70 distance run: 55.52 km, 34.49 miles
Number of Days: 70
Total distance run by Emma: 2912 km, 1809 miles
Daily average distance run by Emma (including rest days): 41.6 km, 25.8 miles
Emma and Mike are still on the road running and cycling in the heat. Tete has a reputation as the hottest city in Mozambique and we are here at the hottest time of year. The rains will be coming soon. Robert, Woocash and I are staying with the gorgeous Dora and her lovely dog, who turned out to be a total cuddle bug. Her, the dog’s, favourite thing is to sleep by the air conditioner or run about scaring passers by.
Tete is a mining town full of busy people in colourful clothes. Skin glistens in the heat. Driving is awesome, there aren’t so much rules of the road as flowing guidelines around walkers, cyclists, motorbikes, 3-wheelers and cars. Getting cash out of the machine takes an hour and a half, with extra delays when a pretty lady charms her way to the front of the long queue, which happens several times. Heat rises from the ground and falls from the sky, Some of the queue gets a bit grumbly at the soft touches at the front. But everyone lets the pregnant lady go first. I like Mozambican culture.
On the day Emma runs into Tete, the temperature is well over 40 centigrade! She calls us at the outskirts. Mike is ill and we need to come and pick him up. We scramble at once. Illness can escalate quickly in the heat.
Once again we call the fabulous Dr. Keletso Nyathi. He thinks it could be malaria and advises we put him on a drip. None of us are confident about doing this. We have testing kits for malaria in our first aid box. Mike tests negative, Emma tests him again to make sure. We decide not to put him on a drip due to our lack of practice. Keletso accepts numerous worried phonecalls in the midst of running his practice in Namibia. Emma takes charge of looking after Mike, whilst I attempt to contact the insurance company. They are helpful but the connection is so bad they can’t understand what I am saying. It’s frustrating and worrying.
Early in the morning, I meet Emma in the hallway, Mike has been throwing up and going to the toilet all night. Emma has been looking after him throughout and looks exhausted. I call Dora and insist that Mike needs to see the Doctor immediately. Dora arranges it at once. It all takes time and Mike looks terrible. The doctor immediately puts Mike on a drip and keeps him under his care. It’s a huge relief.
One medical emergency is unlucky; two in a week is uncanny. Both at the only place where there is a doctor with all the supplies he could need. And where we had the best accommodation for the invalids to recover in. Again, I am very grateful to whatever or whoever seems to be looking after us. A huge thank you.
Mozambique was the poorest country we visited. Pot bellies in children are a classic sign of malnutrition.
This a large almost dry river bed where people come to collect water and wash their clothes. The rains are only a couple of weeks away.
Day 66 distance run: 58.37 km, 36.27 miles Day 67 distance run: 50.94 km, 31.65 miles Day 68 distance run: 0 km, 0 miles
Number of Days: 68
Total distance run by Emma: 2796 km, 1737 miles
Daily average distance run by Emma (including rest days): 41.1 km, 25.5 miles
It is still possible to donate to the charities here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/EmmaTimmis
Until August 2016
Emma and Mike set off running and cycling and we drive to the border, find it and double back to make breakfast (porridge). We have to set up on the side of the road, interrupting the crowded flow of curious school children who stop and stare. Luckily, for our self-conscious selves, education holds a strong force on these children and they hurry on to school.
Woocash starts behaving oddly, he keeps wandering off. It turns out he didn’t want to be sick in public. He is ill about 6 times in the hour before Emma and Mike arrive. I am deeply concerned and he has disappeared again. We could drive back to Harare where the nearest hospital is or we can risk crossing the border, hoping for no delays, and have another several hours drive to Tete. We are discussing our options, when Woocash returns saying that he is peeing blood. That is way beyond my medical knowledge but we have our doctor on call, the brilliant Dr Keletso Nyathi. (I found Keletso on the explorers connect website – if you are an explorer become a member, its superb).
Keletso is also worried: Woocash must see a doctor right away. I tell him we are about 5 hours from a hospital. Keletso tells me Woocash hasn’t got 5 hours before lasting damage could take place. I consider a helicopter. Keletso takes a deep breath and then remembers we have antibiotics in our medical supplies. They will work. Woocash must take the antibiotics, drink lots of water and then see a doctor within 24 hours. (Many thanks to doctors in the UK who gave the prescription.) I call the wonderful Dora to ask about medical facilities in Tete. She says we can see her doctor, if we get there by 5pm. No pressure then.
Crossing the border, we keep Woocash hidden in the car as much as possible and he is on strict instructions to look well when he steps into public. Emma and Mike go through easily but we, in the car, mistake a police officer for a tout. She doesn’t take kindly to this and plans to keep us there all day and night as revenge for the insult. Now is not the time. Never would be the time but now is really not the time.
Luckily, Robert has unparalleled charm skills. The lady softens and I apologise a lot. Woocash stays in the car pretending to be healthy. She lets us out to the Mozambique border. I nag Woocash to drink, which he does reluctantly, as he feels so ill.
On the Mozambican side, a rather handsome border guard helps me with the paperwork. We have half an hour left to find a secluded area for Emma to take a call from BBC Radio Manchester. We settle outside this closed shop. An alarmed owner comes out but he is entertained by our story, allows us to stay and kindly donates two Mozambican sim cards.
Emma on the phone to BBC Radio Manchester (live!)
Shop owner, Woocash and Robert
Unfortunately the sim cards don’t work. Emma and Mike will now be left on their own for a few days. A police officer tells us it is 47 Celsius in Tete, where we are going. I insist on us having sim cards that work in case of an emergency, especially in that heat. This entails a 100km round trip to the nearest town and narrowly avoiding being cheated by a wily young mathematician trying his luck with the confused tourists. Fortunately, Woocash is feeling a lot better, you can see, he’s even posing for photos. The power of antibiotics and fear of missing out. The day he refuses a photograph I will get a helicopter in.
We finally arrive after many hours into Dora’s lovely cool home and I am grateful to put a poorly Woocash to bed. He gets to see the Doctor in the morning and comes back with a bag full of green and pink pills in case it is a bladder infection or bilharzia. When he has to go back a second time, the doctor gives him even bigger and more colourful pills, as it may be a prostate infection. The doctor also insists Woocash has a full investigation when he returns to the UK. Peeing blood in men is a particularly serious sign. Lesson learned: drink water in hot climates, especially when in town and there is alcohol and coffee available.
That’s enough drama for one day. However, I sincerely appreciate our good fortune or the care of whoever is watching over us, this is the only time (apart from Harare) when we are near a doctor during Emma’s run and its when we needed it.
Number of Days: 65
Total distance run by Emma: 2686 km, 1669 miles
Daily average distance run by Emma (including rest days): 41.3 km, 25.7 miles
Distance run today: 46.48 km, 28.88 miles
Thank you Keletso for being a fantastic doctor and answering the phone straight away. Thank you Robert for charming the policewoman.
Thank you Policewoman for having a kind heart and accepting our apology.
Thank you Mozambican guard for helping me with the paperwork when everyone else was busy doing something else.
Thank you shop owner for letting us hang out on your doorstep.
Thank you teenager for helping us get a Sim card that worked and explaining why the others didn’t.
Thank you Dora for arranging for Woocash to see a doctor and letting us stay in your lovely home.
My goal with this blog is to offend everyone in the world at least once with my words… so no one has a reason to have a heightened sense of themselves. We are all ignorant, we are all found wanting, we are all bad people sometimes.