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 taxis lends it a certain frisson. The waves break on the sand to my left – a couple of groups of lads are playing touch rugby, those with wiser heads are taking evening strolls, or sit slumped in the numerous beach bars where a beer is 50p and a lady will sell you barbecued fish with salad for £2.
After the run we rehydrate – in a bar.
“Of course,” someone tells me, “this is now the only legal place to run. Last year the police banned running in the streets because they felt it was a threat to public order. They show me the announcement which concludes “Any group of persons now found jogging in the streets without authorisation will be dealt with according to the law. You have been warned.”
Right now not ever running again feels an excellent idea.