Day 163 – Lagos, Nigeria, Marathon 53
Father’s Day, Pater Pan, Kev and the London dream.
#FathersDay… so today I must thank my dad for all the endless effort he is putting in to keeping me alive and well during this trip, not to mention the decades of patience and love he has shown me. I have a brilliant team of about 20 helping to make this journey possible, and my dad is one of them. Dad, thanks for everything, love you loads, and now it’s time to stop reading this and get back to work. You have flights to book.
A quick mention of Kev too. Although not my dad, Kev is a father, a husband and a brilliant man. In case you don’t know who Kev is, Kev’s my good friend, the whole reason I’m running around the world – a marathon in every country in the world to raise money for prostate cancer. The aim is to stop brilliant men like Kev dying from this terrible illness. Kev will sadly have his life cut short at the hands of this cancer, leaving his family devastated. Today is dedicated to all the families suffering after losing great men. Let’s raise a glass or maybe a running shoe to everyone affected by prostate cancer.
The photos from today’s run pretty much tell the story of my 53rd marathon for me. Brilliant people, amazing smiling faces from the locals and once again, the patience of the support cars. I have to thank Dayo, Seun and Queen for making today possible. Dayo isn’t even in the country, but she contacted my team and gave me her apartment to stay in and her friends to run with.
I ran with Peter Pan today. This real-life Peter Pan is 16 and has been running for three years. He competed in his second marathon in February of this year… and won, in a time of 2 hours 44 minutes. His dream is to run the London Marathon and I hope to get him there. If you want to help, let me know. His coach and I are talking. I’d love to be able to surprise him with a place, a visa and a place to stay. Everything is possible with a little help from friends. That’s you, by the way.
Day 164 – Lagos, Nigeria
An attempted mugging, a shambles of a morning and still no shower or a meal that doesn’t come in a box.
Yesterday’s run was fab. Great people and the weather was kind. Today, not so much.
I was up at 6.30am for a 7am pick up. Turns out it’s best not to plan anything in Nigeria. By 8am I still hadn’t heard from anyone. Fourth floor apartment, middle of Lagos, no shops and no Wi-Fi. It’s not like I could even have a long bath or shower (which is broken, there’s no hot water, and there’s a brown, thick, furry mould spread along the entire length of the bathroom). Finally I realised that my 9am meeting with the High Commissioner was in danger of being missed. Both drivers were, for whatever reason, not here. I opted for an Uber (I checked on the off-chance). After a very short 15 minutes with the High Commissioner I was ushered out, followed by a few snaps with the local press who were then also ushered out shortly after. I had missed the breakfast meeting and ended up with a small dry piece of toast and an egg, oh, and a glass of water. Two hours went by, and once again, both drivers were nowhere to be seen. I was waiting to visit the market to take photos.
As you can probably tell I was pretty grumpy at this point and it got worse as I got more hungry.
Ten minutes into my walk around the market (once my drivers had turned up), five men attempted to relieve me of my possessions, specifically, my very new and very expensive 5D Mark IV Canon DSLR camera. My drivers held them back with considerable force while I physically shielded the camera and myself from grabbing hands. Not an inch of space to move. After about 5 minutes of negotiating, the drivers paid them off. One of the men even went to speak to the police during this situation; their response was “just pay them”. The original price was 100,000 NGN (about £200), which was reduced to £10. I fled, heart racing and feeling rather stupid for being in the middle of Lagos with a camera snapping away without a care in the world. Idiot! I did get some great shots though.
I am dirty, my fingernails are black, my hair is greasy, my clothes are damp and I’m still starving. I’ve eaten 1/4 of a KFC, an egg, a slice of toast and drunk a bottle of water. #run
Day 165 – Nigeria to Douala, Cameroon
Another cancelled flight and my introduction to Nigerian money-making scams.
I was relieved to get out of Nigeria and towards a shower and some food today – my Nigerian experience has been one of my least favourite so far.
After yesterday’s mess of a day I was due to be picked up at 9am to find breakfast, and then on to the airport really early to account for the inevitable poor service from the airline. I’m gradually learning my lessons – although, like an idiot, my bags were packed and I was waiting. The driver arrived over an hour late.
Talking of learning lessons, I have been introduced to Nigerian money-making scams. My team and I were informed that a kind lady would support me, give me a place to stay and provide people to show me around for a few days. Brilliant, and friendly, right? BUT today I was given a bill for US$800. I couldn’t help but laugh. I owed them about £25 for some cash they had lent me and another £10 for paying off the muggers yesterday. There was nothing more. The bill included tour services. What tour? On top of this I couldn’t even shower because of furry mould covering the shower and bathroom, there was no towel or loo roll, and I was abandoned for about 80% of the day. I am still really hungry due to the fact there was little or no food options a safe distance away. The taps didn’t work, the sheets on the bed were brown, and the drivers just turned up when it suited them. Can you tell I’m hungry, tired and grumpy? I will say, though, that the kind lady Dayo was in fact a kind lady. It was her contacts who had let the side down.
Oh, and did I mention my flight was cancelled today without the airline #shittyAsky informing me. I literally ran around the airport searching for options. I eventually figured it out and found another flight via four connections to here, Douala, Cameroon. I need to find food and sleep. Running tomorrow at 6am – a long day at the office indeed. All part of the journey, and I’m still smiling, so all is well. Another adventure begins tomorrow.
Day 166 – Douala, Cameroon, Marathon 54
Top laws of the African street (part 1 of 10):
RULE 1: You must own and drive a motorbike, regardless of age. It can not be new, and it must have an annoying horn and several fundamental exhaust defects.
RULE 2: Always beep your horn, especially when there is no reason to. A minimum of 500 times a day is suggested.
RULE 3: Never stop at traffic lights or wear a helmet. If you do wear a helmet, it must be broken or unstrapped.
RULE 4: Regardless of your job, you ARE a taxi driver. If you have a car, the outside space, including the bonnet, roof, boot and doors, are all available space for passengers.
RULE 5: No matter how many passengers you have, you will always have room for three more, especially when driving a motorbike.
RULE 6: When travelling on foot always wear open-toe sandals that are either a size too big or a size too small.
RULE 7: If you need to carry things, you must do so without using your hands. You may only use your head.
RULE 8: When carrying things on your head, you must make it look effortless, even when carrying a cow.
RULE 9: If you are trying to attract someone’s attention you are not permitted to use any words. A mouse squeak with pursed lips is suggested.
RULE 10: You must never read the Highway Code and never give way to any human, animal or motor vehicle, especially while at speed or at junctions.
RULE 11: If you need to relieve yourself of any bodily fluid, do so anywhere you like, such as when withdrawing cash from an ATM. #handsfree
I hope nobody finds this offensive; it’s certainly not meant to be. I can’t help but chuckle when I see all these sights, all of which I’ve witnessed first hand. The ATM urination was seen at mile 20 today.
More African street law coming soon. My run today was fab, no heat, safeish, and I was somehow in a very happy mood despite the hunger and lack of sleep. I was even singing to myself at one point. I think I’m delirious.
Day 167 – Douala, Cameroon, rest Day – admin and sleep
Bloody hotel staff – although I have at least now been FED!
Before I tell you about this pile of poo hotel I must thank Rehband! These guys have been great. My compression socks are awesome and I can’t really imagine running without them. I had a fresh pair for my run yesterday, fifth pair of the trip so far.
I now have two full rest days! Wahoo! Unfortunately, however, I’m in a hotel that looks like a hotel but is actually just a building full of all of the most incompetent staff in the world. This hotel, La Falaise, is the kind of place that when I ask for salt and pepper they bring you a pepper and no salt. Another example of their brilliant service is the time of day that they attempt to clean the room. At 9.33pm I had a lady knock on the door and ask if she could clean my room. Maybe she didn’t get the memo that cleaning rooms is supposed to be done in the morning? The room was already filthy prior to my arrival, so I agreed, got out of bed and sat in the hallway. I then promptly fell back to sleep slumped against the greasy wall. #classy. I have been incredibly lucky to have some brilliant hotels for free on my journey, which is why, when I pay for a hotel, I expect it to be at least as good as the others. Come on, it’s my only comfort at the moment – and £450 for three nights in this place makes my blood boil.
Despite the negatives of this place I was still in a very happy mood overall… for two whole days I’m not getting on a plane or running anywhere. This is a chance to have a break and catch up on sleep and admin again. Or so I thought. Most of my admin consists of backing up, checking emails (of which I currently have 6,445), uploading photos, writing the book, sorting my diary and getting info from the team regarding the next few countries, things like locations, dangers, transfers, currency etc. The internet was so bad that I gave up on 90% of those tasks and enjoyed a good sleep. It was probably needed.
Day 168 – Douala, Cameroon, 2nd rest day
Chapter 1 of the book complete – it feels good!
Today was the day I was intent on finishing the first chapter of my book. And I did!
This is the book that will be published shortly after finishing my journey. It’ll hold the entire story including all the extra bits and pieces that you didn’t know, and it is a VERY honest account of the entire process. Not just spanning the two years to complete the journey, but also the two years in the build-up and planning stages. I think it’s a pretty good read so far, if I do say so myself. I’ve enjoyed writing it anyway. Only another 150,000 words to go…
DO YOU WANT TO READ THIS BOOK? Comment and tag anyone who would, please.
I’m writing everything about six months after the event, so that means re-listening to voice memos, reading my diaries again and generally putting my mind back six months. It’s tiring, but so interesting too, and makes me appreciate how far I’ve come. There are so many funny stories I had forgotten and it’s nice to re-live them. It’ also quite painful to listen back to my voice at times. I have an old-school dictaphone that goes everywhere with me to capture anything I’m thinking. It’s a good method of not missing anything.
Realising that I’ve already ticked off over 50 marathons is actually a much-needed thought process to give me the momentum for the next 50. It’s a good mental stockcheck in a way.
I’m now going to bed with a sense of accomplishment and also the realisation that I still have a hell of a long way to go, not just the travelling, the running or the book writing, but the need to nurse my body and mind around the minefield that will be the next 527 days. Thanks for the support everyone.
Day 169 – Douala, Cameroon to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
FLIGHT NUMBER 96, my first Ethiopian airline flight and another eight hours in an airport making friends.
I was tired today. I think the rest time in Cameroon had caught up with me. I’m mostly running on empty (quite literally). When I rest and my body starts to rebuild, this is when I feel the most lethargic. I know it’s coming but I still really need it. I wasn’t in the best of moods after battling with the Wi-Fi and dealing with utterly rubbish hotel staff in this overpriced, poorly run building. Can you tell I’m not a fan?
Anyway, in hindsight, today has actually been pretty good – my mind was just weakening slightly and so I was grumpy. On the way to the airport the taxi driver was so nice and chatty I felt bad for being blunt and quiet. I am human, but still, no excuse – sorry Mr taxi driver.
I’m fast approaching my 100th flight of the trip – about 1.7 flights per country on average, thanks to the island hopping in the Caribbean in Phase 1.
A chunky and very old, battered-looking Ethiopian 787 was my aircraft for the day. I’ve been keeping a log of all the different types of plane I’ve been on; I’m geeky like that. So look forward to a fancy info graphic at the end…
I had a connection today somewhere, not entirely sure which country I was in… but it was so strange it’s worth talking about. Imagine a post-apocalyptic film… dust, scattered chairs, half-eaten meals in abandoned restaurants, that kind of thing (but without the zombies). This was an active airport, though… Hardly any staff, luggage belt not working, security that didn’t care, and everything was closed or shut down. Never did find out what was going on. Was it possible that the world had ended?
British Endurance Athlete | Motivational Speaker | Adventurer
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