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Sierra Leone Marathon 2014

The Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon Prologue: Part 1

Having aircon in my room in Sierra Leone has been something of a novelty. That and the fact that the AMZAS hotel is seemingly, by some miracle, a "no bark, no howl" zone for dogs, has made sleep both easier and more plentiful. So it wasn't too much of a wrench to roll of bed at 5.30 this morning to meet Mohamed Conteh and Emilie Walsh at the start of the Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon at 6.

 

With the kind of foresight that I will not be exhibiting on race day, I had forgotten to stock up on water the night before so only had about a litre and a half to pour into my Camelbak. The bare minimum I would need, I thought, to keep me going around the half marathon course.

 

That aside, the day was starting well. As I left the hotel at 5.55, it was obvious that it would be light enough to start the actual races earlier than the 6.30am gun I had anticipated. As it turned out, we were able to set off at 6.15.

 

It was overcast and humid and within a mile or so, the sweat had started pool. Except for Mohamed, who was as dry as Sierra Leone in February until about mile 6, when he managed a couple of rivulets on his temple. Emilie peeled off to follow the 5km course, and Mohamed and I continued along the half marathon course. Although lots of people were up and about, and breakfasts were in an advanced state of preparation, there was slightly less noise from the no doubt still sleepy kids along the route. Traffic was virtually non-existent, except on the main roads, which was also reassuring.

 

At Panlap junction we turned onto the hard mud surface of the Kamakwie highway and saw only three motorbikes on the road from mile 6 to mile 11. What we did see a lot of were women and children carrying bundles of wood, and plastic tubs filled with cassava or huge piles of mangoes. They don't look like the ones you get in Sainsbury's, mind. Most are about the size of a large lemon and yellow-skinned. I'll be sampling as many as I can in the next few days.

 

Our pace was good, but not excessive and although I began to tire in the last two miles, I think this was probably down to rationing my water too much early on and suffering as a result. A valuable lesson in the effects of dehydration. It was still overcast as we finished, but the sun did start to break though by late morning. Overcast is vastly preferable, so fingers crossed for that on the 9th.

 

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