Running Across Africa – Day 16 -22

Day 16

Distance ran: 27 miles

A great night’s sleep in a proper bed and a slow start due to a complimentary buffet breakfast. Later than usual, a 7am start, I managed to find a track away from the main road, which seemed busy with lorries, and after about 2 miles we took a right and back onto the D roads. It gave me such a buzz to be back on the red dirt feeling like it was just us running through the African plains. A strong 20 mile morning session we managed to find a beautiful spot to camp (this time we asked the landowner). In the evening I was joined by Antonia and Manuel and we ran another 7 miles. On return our dinner was ready and we enjoyed listening to the noises of the bush before all having an early night.

Day 17

Distance ran: 26 miles

A really good nights sleep, leaving the camper it’s always a bit of a shock actually how cold it is first thing. With a mix of noises, cold and complete darkness I feel like getting back in my sleeping bag, however, once I’m dressed, watered and had a snack I’m ready to make a start. We usually have one hour running in darkness before sunrise and it’s always exciting to see what paw prints are on the dusty track. The last few mornings Libby and I have been non stop talking for the first hour so any exciting animals would have fled the area as my voice is like a foghorn. It’s great to be back on the D roads as there is no traffic, the downside is that they are extremely long and straight. I feel very lucky to be doing this run because we are treated to some of the most beautiful scenery, birds and animals. I have a quick break at 12 miles, a cold coffee from the flask and some snacks, and we’re on our way again. Libby and I gassing again. I stop for another break at 17 miles before Manuel joins Libby and I. We finish the morning session at 20 miles. In the evening Peter, Libby, Manuel and myself headed back out to cover 6 more miles. I quite enjoy the evening sessions as it’s cooler and I can see the landscape around me compared to the mornings when I run for an hour in the darkness. We were rewarded with a very tasty veggie Bolognese and pasta – delicious!

Day 18

Distance ran: 26 miles

My body clock seems to be programmed quite well and I’m waking naturally around 5.45am. This morning Peter, Libby and myself set off for the morning run. I stupidly became nervous when two cows were stood on the side, one with horns which seemed to be looking at me, so I stayed alongside Libby who then messaged Peter to reverse back as they did look angry. No drama and we carried on. A slightly pathetic morning as I then became nervous of a dog in the back of a moving van! I’ve become overly cautious about anything that could potentially bite or kick me. Feeling quite strong another 20 miles in the bag. The last mile the route took me back onto the D road and through the mountains which was beautiful and I was extremely excited about the evening session. In the afternoon I was joined by Manuel and Antonia and we completed another 6 miles. With the sun going down there seemed to be lots of guinea fowl around and then I got majorly excited because I saw an ostrich running across the field. We also had to dodge a puff adder which does make me think that running along the side by the grass we are slightly vulnerable. Another potential danger to think about.

Day 19

Distance ran: 26 miles

A slightly slow start but I’m soon into my stride when the most beautiful sunrise appears on the horizon. A big golden circle rising in front of me. There’s something so special about the freedom of running – feeling the sweat run down your face and the sun lighting up the African landscape it feels like total freedom. You’re living in that moment removed from daily stresses. We finally arrive in Grootfontein and head to Beyer Self-Catering where Steve and Antonia were cooking porridge. We are soon introduced to Max the owner who then kindly offered us beds in his extremely cute guest accommodation. His kindness doesn’t end there, he allows us to use his swimming pool, helped Libby with her bike and invited us for an evening BBQ which got even better when I found out it was lamb. In the evening we went out and covered 10 miles where Max joined us on his bike. It was really special that he joined us and was a part of this challenge. When I do these challenges I also enjoy the people I meet along the way and it’s people like Max, who offer so much for free, that make me appreciate what’s important in life. I can’t thank Max and his Wife Irmgard enough. The day will certainly be one for the memory box.

Day 20

Distance ran: 26 miles

It was so nice to have a lie in, with such great facilities I felt the team would appreciate having a bit of extra time in the morning. We didn’t start running until 8.30am. It was a pretty uneventful day, just a long tarmac road with many trucks. The day was split into two, 20 miles in the morning and 6 in the evening. We camped at Roy’s Rest Camp which was pretty cool. A couple from South Africa were quite interested in what I was doing and were excited to have a photo with me which was sweet but felt funny. There was a lookout hide looking over a waterhole, I did have a look for a minute but all I could see was cowpats! Had an early night with the thoughts of another day on that long road on my mind.

Day 21

Distance ran: 30 miles

I woke at 1am and needed a wee. Due to me running over 400 miles I thought walking to the toilet block was too far so went against a tree. I wasn’t being lazy I just always think there could be a leopard! Stuffing two doughnuts down my face at 6am I was determined to pull off a longer day due to the long road to Rundu. I got into a good stride and seemed fully focused on the task ahead. Taking on gels and water I resisted from having a break. Starting in the dark certainly helps as you can’t see the long road ahead, there were some interesting trees however and I quite liked the palm trees scattered around. No animals this morning, the only thing that passes us are the juggernaut trucks. I do enjoy how most of them sound their horn and put their thumb up into the air. Libby probably saw a different side of me today because it was no chat – head down and in the zone. I completed the 30 miles in 5 hours, 3 minutes and it was nice to have an afternoon relaxing at Mururani Rest Camp, playing with the very cute Jack Russell puppy and of course eating all the snacks!

Day 22

Distance ran: 30 miles

It’s certainly been a long road but keeping my head down I’ve managed to cover 30 miles to condense the distance to Rundu from what we thought would be 6 days down to 4. Apart from a few more villages and vegetables for sale on the side of the road, the road really was just up and down like a big dipper. Have gained confidence by running further and I’m excited from Rundu we will head East towards the Zambia border.

Running Across Africa Day 9 To Day 15

Day 9

Waking at 6am I was reluctant to go outside due to the noises of last night. Me being pathetic, also it was one of the coldest nights so far. I set off at 6.30am knowing Kalkfeld was going to be another town to stock up on bits and another landmark, which mentally was a stepping stone to start heading North East. My legs for the first few miles feel slightly heavy but soon wake up. Being surrounded by such beautiful landscape, antelope running across the road and warthogs trotting into the shrubs help the miles go by. It’s usually around the 6 mile mark that my legs and body kick into action and I feel like I can run for long periods. We reach Kalkfeld where we all scoff chips which seemed to taste rather nice even though they were more like French fries. We managed to find accommodation at a convent, a bed and a shower is much appreciated. In the evening Libby, Peter and myself covered another 6 miles taking today’s total to 23 and passing the 200 mile mark.

A warm shower and early night.

Day 10 and 11

I woke shortly after 11pm with stomach ache and a lot of wind and struggled to relax and sleep. By 2am I had diarrhoea followed by being sick. I was grateful that I had a bed and a toilet to be sick into in the middle of nowhere this would have been more difficult. Laying on the floor sweating I counted to 10 before returning to my bedroom. It’s frustrating that in the space of a few hours I can go from a high to a low.

I had two days off, instead of being filled with negative thoughts and frustration it’s all part of the journey. A message from my mum telling me the news that our friend lost her battle with cancer puts these things into perspective and I really don’t have anything to moan about. Instead turn the two days off due to illness into thinking it’s just two days rest. I’m sure the rest will help me in the long run.

Day 12

So I’m back after illness, it’s certainly tougher to get up due to breaking the routine. Libby, Steve and myself set off to the start point and within 1 mile my legs feel like brand new. Not to get too carried away I needed to rein my pace in a bit and confidently finished the day with 13 miles. I want to ease back in as it’s still a long way until we reach Mozambique. I can catch up lost miles in the latter part of the run. The main thing is I feel strong and the confidence and smiles are back!

An incredible moment happened early on too, stood in the darkness amongst the trees was a Giraffe – a beautiful moment.

In the afternoon we move from the convent to a camping site called the Crocodile Ranch. We spent the afternoon relaxing in the shade and I was fortunate to meet the owner Anné Noelle who kindly let us look around the crocodiles and surprised us with 5 pizzas. For once I’m listening to advice and being sensible so decide to miss the evening session confident I will return tomorrow full of pizza ready for the marathon distance.

Day 13

Quite a restless night due to the sound of dogs howling and barking. I think this must be the first time in my life I actually hated dogs. We set off at 6am to re-join the route, it’s been quite a mentally frustrating week because it feels like I’ve been playing catch up. The first 6 miles went smoothly then I lost concentration and the long road ahead seemed forever. Instead of concentrating on one foot in front of the other and reducing the miles one by one I seemed to concentrate and how far the road looked. I also felt I was running on empty so called it a day at 16 miles. Disappointed but realised I needed to spend the afternoon loading up with food and a sleep.

Day 14

Setting off at 6.30am we finally reached Otjiwarongo and as soon as I ran through it gave me a huge mental boost as at last I felt we were pushing forward. I was joined by a local man who was running, he seemed extremely fit, his English was very limited but he seemed to enjoy running with me for a few miles. We reached the 20 mile mark, a quick donut and some juice and I ran on finding a nice dirt track alongside a railway line. I completed the day with a big smile, 26 miles under the belt. We camped at the side of the road and everyone went to bed early. My team did the usual clear up, each playing an important role of making this run easier for me. I’m extremely grateful for them giving up their time to help. I will be introducing them one by one over the coming week.

I also found a box of Cheerios in the Spar and cold milk 😃

Day 15

Distance ran: 28 miles

A really good nights’ sleep, same little routine –  running kit on, Polar M430 running watch on, head torch, bottle of water and a coffee and off we set. The route today we joined the tarmac road again, it’s a little less eerie on the main road as there were many large trucks zooming past. Their headlights lighting up the road as I jump off to the side. The first 6 miles I felt quite strong and then we stopped to see our first zebra, a beautiful scene across the African plain. I stopped for some pretzels and some water and then set off again determined to put my head down and stride on. I covered 21 miles before heading to Khoi Khoi guest house where they kindly gave us a free camping site. Beautiful gardens, certainly a nice place for everyone to relax. We even got a tour round the owner’s land which seemed to go on for miles. I set off for an evening run running a further 7 miles finding a small track along the railway line was certainly a welcome break from the busy main road. Another big day under my belt, lasagne and salad for dinner and an evening on sofas relaxing with the team. A great way to end the week. I look forward to having a sleep in a bed tonight.