Sunday, May 22, 2016

Half Marathon in Kigali

It just happened that the Kigali International Peace Marathon is run while I am here.  It is too good an opportunity to pass over.  There are, however, a number of factors that make it a daunting challenge.  The elevation in Kigali is around 1,500 meters, making the air thinner, hence rendering it harder to run for people like us living on sea level.  Kigali is also the city of a thousand hills, hence the race course has a lot of steep uphill climbs.  And it is right on the equator, hence the sun is very bright, making it very hot to run.  

Despite all that, I was determined to run.  I was helped when I met my new friend Vincent as I entered the stadium.  He was very kind to stay with me for the first 10 kilometers.  Then we somehow get separated.  Fortunately, he found me again at the end, and even treated me to a cup of black coffee. 

I completed 21 kilometers, a half-marathon.  Given the conditions, I knew there is no way that I can compete the full marathon.  So I stopped after making one loop of the race course (the full marathon consists of 2 loops).  My legs were threatening to cramp around the 19th kilometre.  As soon as I stopped, both legs started to cramp and it was very painful.  I could barely stand.  Fortunately, some of the medical workers noticed that.  3 eventually came over to support me, and ended up carrying me to the treatment room.  

Someone took off my shoes and socks to make me more comfortable.  They also put ice on my legs and massaged them.  When I felt better I tried to put on my socks and shoes.  But to do that I had to bend my legs and the cramps would start again.   Eventually, after perhaps 20 minutes, I felt good enough to get up.  

Oh, there was, naturally, a gorilla in the race - this being Rwanda. 

After taking a shower and taking lunch, I feel much better.  Then we got back to work.  The leaders of our team met with the University of Maryland team leaders to sort out the project arrangements for the coming week.  And our students got busy making preparations.  At 4:30 we have a lecture on community assessment. 

This is a Sunday.  

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