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Showing posts from February, 2018

The first rule about run club

This is what death will be like. My heart is pounding, chest constricting, I can barely lift my foot from the ground. The sweat pours from me and my head pounds.
It is Thursday run club.
An hour ago Ibby was rounding us all up, exhorting us to get a move on, and allocating us to vehicles so we could lurch through Freetown’s commuter traffic to Lumley Beach on the west side of town.
Half way there, the traffic solid and the heat stifling we hailed a street trader and we bought packets of drinking water (improbably branded “CLIMAX”) and biscuits (incongruously labelled “made in the UK for Aldi”).
A King’s Sierra Leone Partnership tradition – started by Ibby some years ago – the whole team go beach running after work every Thursday. “The route’s fine” they tell me. “Flat, and you can 5k or 7.5k”.
It started well enough but it’s 28 degrees and my pale body is unprepared.
The route is straightforward but weaving in and out of other runners, stray dogs, unexpected gaps in the pavement, and…

Survivors

The hills of the Freetown peninsula fade behind us into the morning haze. Before us the road snakes through a panoramic landscape of palm trees and villages. As we pass through one village – marked only by an increase in dwellings and people by the side of the road – our driver slows, and shouts a greeting to a passerby. “This is my village,” he says as we pull away.


An hour later we slow and stop at an elderly single lane bridge spanning a wide slow river. Congregating traders gravitate towards the vehicle. “Chips?” says one, 30 plastic bags of fried plantain slices upon a platter balanced on her head.
“Apple, banana?” says another.
“Water?”
“Popcorn?”
We get bananas.
Another hour and we arrive at our destination, a small hospital where we are to meet survivors of ebola. This part of the country was devastated by the virus. I am told of entire families who died and houses that still stand empty. But the staff we meet are inspiring. Doctors who have chosen to work here and are comm…