Day 142 – Northern Province, Sierra Leone, Marathon 47, and Nick Hewer (aka Nick from The Apprentice) – thanks for your kind chat!
After dragging my tired and dehydrated body out of my mosquito net-covered bed at 4am, I made my way to the local football stadium in the dark. It was spitting with rain and overcast; I was hoping it would stay overcast and coolish all day. As we all gathered for the official #StreetChild Sierra Leone Marathon I met a couple of guys, who also happened to be called Nick – great guys, and people I hope to keep in touch with. They mentioned that Nick, from The Apprentice, was here. What??? Later we found out that he is a life-long patron of this cause and he really was here, supporting the marathon. I am personally a big fan, so we went for a ‘4 Nick Photo’. I explained why I was in Sierra Leone, and he was delighted to help. He tweeted about me – @ProstateCancerUk and @StreetChild right there and then. What a legend. I know he’s just a person, but he’s bloody lovely.
The marathon was over in five hours. The sun didn’t break through the clouds and it was a cool 29°C. Perfect. My plan, as always, was to plod gently, take some photos, chat to some locals and enjoy every mile. I did exactly that. My new friend Jenni fell over at mile 2 so we decided to get her grazed knees and hands patched up, and then we ran the rest of the way together. We finished hand in hand after collecting another four people en route, including Andi, a super-friendly girl from the US, who was struggling in her first ever marathon, so we all ran as a pack – once again, new friends and proof that running is not an individual sport. Since I’ve been in Sierra Leone I’ve met people from the UK, US, Germany, Guinea, Brazil…
The world is small and so wonderfully beautiful. And yet, while we moan about not having a big enough TV or the latest designer clothes, suffering is all around us. I’m becoming more and more aware of how materialistic I have been, and how I’d like to change that.
After the race we popped into a café for some food, and then we drove to a place called #BurehBeach, one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.
Day 143 – Sierra Leone, visit to #Freetown Children’s Hospital
How can one day be so brilliant, and yet so sad?
Today was a lazy but brilliant start – Marmite on toast, yum. I felt rested, though still pretty tired. Chatting life, love and just about everything else with Gen and her mates (my new mates now, I guess) was super-fun.
Today we visited Gen’s workplace, the Children’s Hospital, here in Freetown. We came equipped with some forms for consent to film and to discuss some of the patients’ situations. It was an emotional battering – lots of tears, and an overwhelming feeling of guilt for all the times I’ve ever moaned about anything. It did inspire me to create a little initiative though – watch this space…
Let me tell you about a lovely lady I met. Khadi is 34 and lives in Freetown, not far from the hospital. She had her first child aged 13. She has had nine children. We spoke for a short time about two of her children’s conditions and prognosis, and she was sad. This was bad enough, but when asking about her other children, she softly told us, “No, I had nine children, but seven are dead.” Worst still was that she didn’t know how they had died. It is also highly likely that these tragic deaths could have been avoided with just tiny amounts of support and money. Khadi is desperate to get her child who is the least unwell into school, but the fact is that she can’t afford to pay the hospital fees let alone the £15 tuition fees. And this £15 isn’t per day or per week; it’s per YEAR! Assuming that her remaining healthy child survives without the basics of education, the prospects don’t look great. £90 could turn her life around for good.
I’ve taken the decision to set up a small initiative to support the Children’s Hospital over the next few years. Although I’m busy on this trip, with some willing volunteers and a little outside financial support (and I mean tiny), a cycle of sustainable support can be implemented. It will be slow, but let’s start now. If you’re interested in helping, please comment or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Day 144 – Makeni, Sierra Leone to Liberia
I had Coco Pops today! Yippee! It’s the small things!…
Saying goodbye to Freetown was tough. Gen and I managed to record a short 30-minute interview while I was waiting to jump on the ferry over to the airport – listen out for her interview on the Running The World 196 podcast. I think we are now up to Episode 20. If you’ve not heard the podcast, give it a go on iTunes or Podbean – we’ve had weekly episodes for the duration of the trip.
A short ferry, a short flight, and then I was in Liberia, country number 48. Not only was the flight full of British folk flying back home, but I also sat next to a lovely older lady on the plane. She needed the bathroom a few minutes into the hour-long flight, so I helped her to the bathroom but discovered she had wet herself when getting back to my seat. I felt so sorry for her. I’m not sure she even noticed.
Today was mostly spent packing, pottering around and sorting out photos. I also had some time to run some ideas past Gen for the support project in the Children’s Hospital in Freetown. Thank you to everyone who has been in contact – I will be getting back to you shortly. I am so pleased at the level of support I’ve had. Now it’s time to plan an appeal that is done in the correct way.
Thankfully I had a brilliant hotel lined up just 200 metres from the airport, The Farmington Hotel. They supported me with free accommodation and food, some of which I’ve just scoffed down, and now I’m ready to sleep. An early start tomorrow.
Day 145 – Kongba, Grand Bassa, Liberia, Marathon 48
A marathon in every country in the world to raise £250,000 for @prostatecanceruk– please donate by texting ‘NRTW89 £5’ to 70070.
What a beautiful day for a run – a gentle breeze, overcast, 30°C, and lush green trees and scenery all the way. I was not expecting that. Staying out of the main cities and close to the airport was a great call. Thanks to The Farmington Hotel for the accommodation and hospitality. Richard, the General Manager, and his colleague Mark joined me as my drivers. I was so happy all the way through the run. I had a nice quiet road, just the sound of the birds and trees. This is what running is for me. Peace. My footsteps underneath me, kids shouting hello and water whenever I needed it. Today did not feel like a marathon. I guess that’s what hundreds of marathons’ training does. I was in such a good mood. I think this was mostly due to the great time I’d had in Sierra Leone, but also the contrast to this beautiful country.
I’ve just woken up from a rather long nap. I dozed off after getting back. After I’d showered I’d left my sweaty clothes in a heap on the floor. Oops. Nice and wet for the next one. I’m just about to order some food and then go back to sleep again. Oh I love sleep.
Just a brief request to comment and tag anyone you think may be interested in running with me. Europe and the rest of Africa will take me to the end of the year, so plenty of time to get things organised.
Thanks for all your great support. Tomorrow morning I have a press conference with some media to talk about what I’m doing. I’ll then be jumping on a flight to Ghana. I was blown away by the amount of support following my appeal to help in Sierra Leone. There is a plan, and I’ll keep you all updated once we know a little more. All ideas still welcome.
Day 146 – Liberia to Accra, Ghana, 25% complete, wahoo!
A MARATHON IN EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD – get involved! Run with me, give me a bed for the night, help me raise £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK!
On to country number 49, Ghana, and to the city of Accra; 147 countries and 147 marathons remaining, with ‘only’ 546 days still to travel. Today marks 25% of countries completed, 75% to go. Ghana marathon tomorrow.
Thanks so much for the donations and support so far. Still a long road ahead though. We have raised just under £30,000, but need everyone to dig deep if we are going to reach the £250,000 target: @prostatecancerUK@justgiving.
‘How can I donate?’ I hear you ask. Just search ‘Running The World 196’ and click on ‘Donate’. Or visit #justgiving and search the same.
Here’s some stats for you:
– 1 of little old me
– 15 pairs of trainers
– A new country every three days
– 196 countries in total
– 550 days (now increased to 692)
– A new world first
– Up to eight world records
– Over 280 flights
– 100% carbon-neutral
– Seven continents
– 100,000+ photos
– 1 documentary
– 1 book
– 1 photography book
– 12-month photo exhibition
– Millions of calories consumed (and burnt)
– £250,000 target
– Millions of steps
– A total of 5,135 miles to run
– Friends everywhere, endless stories and many lives saved…
A quick press conference in the morning with some local TV and radio at The Farmington Hotel, and I was on the plane in no time. Thanks to Richard for organising this. It was also great to meet British ambassador David.
Please keep up the support.
Day 147 – Accra, Ghana, Marathon 49, Paralympic support, a police escort and national cyclists
Alem is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, and has an attitude I wish everyone had. He puts me to shame. Having survived polio, he spent from the ages of two to ten crawling. He then learnt to walk with an aid. He battled and trained and became world champion in the C2 class cycling event. He competed in 2012 and 2016, and is soon to take to the stage in Tokyo, in 2020. Although he could have hopped on a bike and cycled the whole thing with me, he challenged himself further by running about 4 miles with me. He crutched his way through the heat of the day, and I am not exaggerating when I say he was travelling so fast that I was struggling to keep up towards the end, as he powered through. His arms have more muscle than my legs. No joke.
Along with Alem, Richard, who lost one of his arms in a road traffic accident 10 years ago, cycled the entire route. A quiet and smiley guy, Richard stuck with me and held off traffic along with Nat. Nat, a police officer, who also cycled with this merry bunch in their club, helped immensely. The traffic was busy at roundabouts and so we stopped traffic often. Victor is the last but not least member of the team. A national cyclist and friend of the gang, he cycled in front of me, warning me of potholes and handing me water when I needed it. It was hot and humid, but it was a day I’ll never forget. I can now rest.
Day 148 – Accra, Ghana, rest day
Today was a day that was much needed. No travel, no early start and my clothes were all soaked, so it was nice not to have to get up and put on wet sweaty clothes for a change.
I posted an old photo of me today, taken about two years ago. I look so much younger… Oh, how tired, thin and generally haggard I look now, and all in the name of running. Wouldn’t have it any other way – but I’ve lost 9.5kg since I started, and I can’t carry on this way.
A brilliant day, a quick visit to the beach followed by a tasty dinner in a beach-front hotel. Mosquitos had a feed too.
Tomorrow I’m heading back to the UK to swap my passport over again. This is a scheduled stop to pick up my next set of African visas in passport number 2. Lots of people have asked me if this is legal. The answer is yes, 100%. It doesn’t mean it’s any less annoying though. But it has come at a good time. I am not well. I’m not sure what’s going on with me, but likely a bug of some sort. Having diarrhoea for about 10 days isn’t a good sign or indeed much fun. So let’s just check I’m not riddled with malaria or something similar. A visit to a tropical medicine clinic and a check-up of bloods etc to be sure. Tomorrow I fly to London.
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
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