Running around the clock for Deba & Nageena
Race report Ultra Compound Race Kabul
|Posing with Deba (back), Nageena (front) and their parents and little brother|
after being awarded as best male runner
|Roof-top race course marked by cones and a code not to bombard this place|
|The 6 floor running course|
Obviously there was no time left to train properly for a race like this. This year wasn't very successful on ultra-running so far - my longest distance was not more than 62 km, in a mountain race in Northern Greece (Zagori mountain run), not even completing the full 80k. Now I was supposed to run 100km or even longer within 24 hours. I would go with the flow - there was no pressure to perform or to compete. The decent performance at the Afghanistan marathon some weeks ago should suffice to confidently aim for a distance beyond the marathon mark - despite the odd course of maybe the most compact ultramarathon in the world and human history.
The entire week leading to the race it was raining and very cold in Kabul - under these circumstances it would be nearly impossible to run the slippery surfaces, stairs and sharp turns. But the race was on Friday the 13th, usually my lucky day since my birthday on the same rare combination more than half a century ago*. Friday morning was still cloudy but skies would be blue by the time of the gunshot - a nice prospect to start the race. I arrived well on time to organise my pit-stop with my choice of drinks and foods to keep going, as well some warm clothes for a night that would flirt with freezing temps. BBC Persian and a national Afghan TV (Tolo) showed up for interviews footage with focus on the charity story around Deba & Nageena who were present with their lovely parents. All runners - around 30 national and internationals, fairly gender balanced to Afghan standards - had the chance to meet and greet with the family - a strong moral boost to keep going for their well-being. I paid my fee and got race shirt No13 in return - a positive sign?
|Ready to go|
|A brief break with nurse Kim|
In the wee hours after midnight there were only three non-stop-runners left that seemed to compete for the longest distance: Dave, the organiser, Sean MacGillivray, a Scottish endurance athlete running non-stop with a backpack of 12 kilo’s (no kidding!) and I. Some younger Afghan runners went to bed after midnight, claiming they ran more than 70k and would wake up on time to complete the last 30k before 12pm next day - a claim that the organisation commented with some skepticism. The counting of laps was not electronically but based on verbal communication to nurse Kim, who was not only standby for med-support but also registered the hourly number of laps on a big white board. I found it very difficult to memorise the number the laps per hour - your mind is not working properly throughout such an ordeal - so I kept track of my laps by marking every lap on my own whiteboard. How many times I got so disoriented that I ascended the rooftop floor a second time instead of going down - with other runners correcting my mistake. But despite the monotonous laps and frosty and wacky cold night I can cope with the much-feared sleep deprivation and mark lap after lap, thanks to a shift from running to fast walking.
|Running through the night with some beats|
|View from the roof-top shortly after sunrise|
The podium positions were clear and of course I was happy with my win, but hats of for Sean with his 12kg backpack - an outstanding performance as Dave later said - as well for Dave himself - running strong at age 55, with only one kidney, coming back from a long recovery, running while organising and running while sampling blood every couple of hours - ‘il faut le faire’. Also hats of for the young Afghan runners that kept going until the gong, some of them - and Zainab in particular - the only Afghan woman finishing the Afghanistan marathon some weeks earlier - running, walking and finally limping a large part of the race in pain.
|BBQ with award for best female (Afghan) runner, |
flanked by some other brave young Afghan runners
Apparently, the entire event was ‘interesting’ enough for the BBC to make a short reportage for its Persian broadcasting (see link below) but lets not forget the cause: the solidarity with the Thalassemia sisters and their parents. The event raised around $10.000 or 10% of the needed funds. In other words more funds are most welcome, so please also donate - my race fee of $125 went entirely to the fund.
Athens, 23 November 2015
Athens, 23 November 2015
*) with all my respect to the victims of the horrible killings that day in Beirut and Paris
BBC Persian; http://www.bbc.com/persian/afghanistan/2015/11/151115_l93_kabul_marathon?post_id=768770843_10153780780585844#_=_
For those that want to support the worthy cause please visit the Gofundme site; https://www.gofundme.com/sx6kh7fk/donate please spread the word so we can ensure we raise the necessary funds for Deba and Negeena. Thank you!