Saturday, November 15, 2008

Running in Sierra Leone (Bob)

In Mississippi it was hard to find hills to train on; here it’s hard to find a flat area. One of my runs is from our home in Hill Station (a residential ridge high above the central part of the city) through a valley and up a mountain peak (Leicester) behind the U.S. Embassy, and back home. It’s a run of about an hour, much of it on rocky, dirt paths. Usually young children shout out a welcome along the way. Adults give encouragement with a smile or greeting, or return a wave.

My track workouts are at the national stadium where I run with members of various clubs who are currently training for a national meet in December. The other day we did 600 meters/500/400/300/200/100 then repeated it. I was far behind the first set but keeping up with the end runners the last set. The coach is an enthusiastic former national sprint champion who yells encouragement to me from time to time.

The crazy runs are with the “Hash,” a weekly event for walkers and runners up and down steep dirt trails through mostly low income residential areas. As we run, people give friendly greetings and finger-pointing directions to those who lag behind the group. Because the trail setters intentionally put markers that lead to some dead ends or turnaround markers, the slow runners usually catch up to the faster ones doubling back. Betty, well on the road to her recovery from her back injury, walked with the Hash recently.

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