I had been holding up the rear of the leading pack of runners for most of the past 20.5 kilometers and I could take it no longer…I knew I could win this race so I mustered up my last bit of energy to finish strong. As I sprinted past the long, lean, muscular, world-class Kenyan and Tanzanian runners to the finish line, the crowds went wild...hahaha! Just kidding, I certainly did not win! I was probably in the group of about 50 of the last finishers, BUT I completed my first half-marathon on Sunday here in Arusha, Tanzania and it was a great experience! The race was a bit different than races at home because they didn’t stop traffic for the runners—we just ran in and amongst the traffic, dodging dala dala’s, buses, dogs, chickens, goats, crowds of people…you name it! Traffic is a whole lot different here in the city than at home too. I wish I could describe it to you, but I don’t know how to put it into words. It’s definitely comical, though! Once we got out of the city, we ran out past the Arusha airport where it was a lot quieter and less dusty. The race course was set up with a turn around point so when I was on my way to the turn around point, I passed the super fast leading pack of runners coming the other way. If you have seen races in North America, you know that you can count on an African guy winning it with an incredible time! Well…this is where these guys come from so just imagine 30 of them sprinting together, shoulder to shoulder with a cloud of African dust flying up and swirling around behind their heels. Then there were many more fast packs of them following the one in the lead. Let me tell ya—it was a sight to behold! It was a bit depressing for me because I still had a good 30 minutes to go before I even got to the turn around point. At the time, I was running with a guy in long jeans and flat shoes. We ran together for about 5km or something and kept each other going. After the turning point, he decided to walk so I kept going until I met up with a boy who looked about 10-years-old. I tried to pass him, but he would not let me! He would speed up when I sped up or get in front of me when I tried to pass. So, we ended up running together for the last 8km or so. He was super cute and we started to bond as we ran together dodging the traffic. When I would slow down, he would encourage me (in Swahili) and motion to me to go faster. We sprinted to the finish line together with a time of 2 hours and 10 min. It was a blast! It was interesting to see the mix of different sorts of runners. There were the hardcore ones who were super fast and then there were many people just wearing jeans and terrible shoes for running. (It didn't seem to matter, though, because they all finished in pretty good time!) The wheel chair race was another sight to see. In America, the wheelchair competitors have fancy wheelchairs made for racing and they're dressed in racing attire. Not these guys. The wheel chairs here were just normal, upright wheelchairs you would see in a hospital that appeared very old and looked like they would fall apart at any moment. It was very sad to see and I have no idea how they pushed those chairs for 21km…but they did! It almost brought tears to my eyes to watch them cross the finish line because everyone was cheering so loudly for them and it was so special to see the expressions of relief and satisfaction on their faces.
When I got back to the apartment after the race, Lili made me pose for a picture with my medal. She was also intrigued by my big water blister on my 4th toe…so she took a picture of that too. I know my foot looks gross in that picture because of all the dust and dirt it collected, but I put it up so you could see the giant water blister! After the run, I could feel the water jiggling around in it as I walked! (That’s how impressive it was) lol. I think that’s enough for this post!