A long and winding road

A long and winding road
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

That leads to, well, I don’t know where, exactly. That was today’s run. After my big fat run/walk/collapse on Saturday, I ended up having an unplanned rest day on Sunday so resolved to do something a bit tougher than a 5mile recovery run today.

I again set off into the hills on the far side of the road, which makes for a route that turns immediately uphill. Every night I wonder whether the following day is going to see me finally bash out some quick miles, and I’d been confident last night. In reality, the phrase that fits is “it doesn’t take much”, which is what we say in relation to hills slowing you down here, and sure enough I plodded up the hill, turned onto a dirt track and plodded up that, too.

Hitting the cobbled road to nowhere I was determined to turn right and stay on it, where last time I had turned off as soon as it swung downhill. The road itself is an oddity; cobbled, with attractive semi circles of cobbles radiating out, it must have taken hours and hours of labour, not to mention millions of small stones, yet is unused where I ran. It doesn’t seem to follow or join the main road, either, though perhaps that was its function, with the newer road a bigger engineering project. More research needed.

At any rate, I ran down the hill. And down, and down. After a mile I found the first building, but couldn’t tell what it was for. Another half mile and the vista opened up, with scenery dropping away to my right and kids playing football in the sun. Civilisation, with houses lining the road, some with the walls and gates that I think marks a family of substance. The road was dropping away even more steeply now and I figured that after an initial 10m/m then an 8 and low 7, it was time to take my punishment and run the near two miles directly uphill.

Need I say it was tough? A new personal all-run slowest mile, with the first being 12 minutes! Eventually I reached the top, back to where I joined the road and carried on, wondering whether the cobbles would join the main road. No, it seemed. I’d lost my bearings totally (nothing new there), but as cobbly road was still heading gently-praise be-up and the main road is down, I think it must be swinging round a mountain. Next run that way, I’ll find out. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to take on the long down, long up again, though a little voice inside wonders whether gunning it might net my fastest ever mile to go with the slowest.

Top of camp, looking South
Top of camp, looking South.

Meanwhile the camp has calmed down after the usual rush over the weekend. Locals head here for lunch, and some for breakfast, which gives us the chance to see some less wiry and fit Ethiopians. Honorary Brit of the day went to the chunky father of two who I spotted finishing his second beer at 9.30. Guests come and go, and we now have a Danish Olympian. There was a Swiss family that Chris and I got to know, sadly on their last night. Turns out they were fit though not international runners, but both working for medecin sans frontieres, with Ethiopia just a convenient middle ground for them to meet up while one is working in Haiti and the other in Sudan. Even the non runners are impressive.

Phrase of the day: “he looked as fresh as a big glossy green Dutch cucumber”.

Summary: 1:18:57, 13.51km. Finished ‘Running with the Kenyans’.

Yaya garden, horse being led on the dirt track
Yaya garden, horse being led on the dirt track.


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