Rushville Republican

Features

January 7, 2008

Anyone who finishes a marathon is a winner, especially in Africa

Despite living in Africa, there are some things a person must do to feel “normal.” For me, it’s running. I run between three to five miles each morning along a winding, dusty road past mud huts and men pushing bicycles up hills loaded with old fashioned looking milk canisters and large bunches of bananas. When the newspaper announced the entry deadline for the Dec. 9, 2007 MTN Kampala Marathon, I decided to register again. I had also run the marathon in 2006. Running for the fun of it isn’t enough for me. I need a carrot dangling out in front of me to chase after. That means training for a marathon.

The weeks leading up to the marathon, the newspapers boasted "6000 to Run Marathon." In reality only a couple hundred ran the full marathon. The rest ran the 10k and half marathon. Two other Peace Corps Volunteers were also running the marathon. Chad and I had decided to run it together. Chad had recently purchased some (I can only describe them as) 80s style spandex to run the marathon in. As if he wouldn’t stand out enough just being a white guy.

The few hundred of us anxiously approached the start line. Runners were champing at the bit to get going. The starter had to call them back three times before officially starting the race. I don’t exactly understand how a half second jump start is going to help in a 26.2 mile race. As I looked around I saw a number of baffling sights. The man in front of me had on a full sized, green book bag. It didn’t seem heavy, maybe holding a jacket. A few runners were wearing sweat pants though the temperature was mild, it would get very hot very quickly. I also saw a wide variety of shoes: high tops, casual dress shoes, boots – one guy had on one shoe and one sandal made from used tires.

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