2008.01.07: January 7, 2008: Headlines: COS - Uganda: Running: Sports: Rushville Republican: Uganda Peace Corps volunteer Brian Dunn writes: Anyone who finishes a marathon is a winner, especially in Africa

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Uganda: Peace Corps Uganda : Peace Corps Uganda: Newest Stories: 2008.01.07: January 7, 2008: Headlines: COS - Uganda: Running: Sports: Rushville Republican: Uganda Peace Corps volunteer Brian Dunn writes: Anyone who finishes a marathon is a winner, especially in Africa

By Admin1 (admin) (141.157.8.55) on Monday, December 29, 2008 - 8:37 am: Edit Post

Uganda Peace Corps volunteer Brian Dunn writes: Anyone who finishes a marathon is a winner, especially in Africa

Uganda Peace Corps volunteer Brian Dunn writes: Anyone who finishes a marathon is a winner, especially in Africa

The miles flew by. With my pace, I thought I would finish in 3:30. The course was only sparsely marked with mile markers so when 3:25 came I started looking for the finish. "Only five more minutes. Keep going." I kept telling myself. Five minutes went by. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. I thought I saw the finish line at one point and let out an exhaustive "Thank You" only to discover I was mistaken. Finally I came to a marking: 41km (the marathon is 42.2km). They tell you when there is 1 km to go?! Iím not sure if thatís beneficial or torturous. As I came around the last corner there was a huge crowd cheering. Not Ugandans. It was about 12 PCVs who had come to see the race, but it felt like 100 of them. They cheered for everyone as they passed, but especially for us! I think I sprinted all the way to the finish line. They were so supportive. The Ugandan runners, as they passed, didnít quite know what to think. They werenít used to hearing people cheer them on and had to double check that they were really cheering for them. Some smiled, some waved, but all picked up their pace a little bit as they crossed the finish line.

Uganda Peace Corps volunteer Brian Dunn writes: Anyone who finishes a marathon is a winner, especially in Africa

Anyone who finishes a marathon is a winner, especially in Africa

Brian Dunn
Guest writer

Despite living in Africa, there are some things a person must do to feel ďnormal.Ē For me, itís running. I run between three to five miles each morning along a winding, dusty road past mud huts and men pushing bicycles up hills loaded with old fashioned looking milk canisters and large bunches of bananas. When the newspaper announced the entry deadline for the Dec. 9, 2007 MTN Kampala Marathon, I decided to register again. I had also run the marathon in 2006. Running for the fun of it isnít enough for me. I need a carrot dangling out in front of me to chase after. That means training for a marathon.

The weeks leading up to the marathon, the newspapers boasted "6000 to Run Marathon." In reality only a couple hundred ran the full marathon. The rest ran the 10k and half marathon. Two other Peace Corps Volunteers were also running the marathon. Chad and I had decided to run it together. Chad had recently purchased some (I can only describe them as) 80s style spandex to run the marathon in. As if he wouldnít stand out enough just being a white guy.

The few hundred of us anxiously approached the start line. Runners were champing at the bit to get going. The starter had to call them back three times before officially starting the race. I donít exactly understand how a half second jump start is going to help in a 26.2 mile race. As I looked around I saw a number of baffling sights. The man in front of me had on a full sized, green book bag. It didnít seem heavy, maybe holding a jacket. A few runners were wearing sweat pants though the temperature was mild, it would get very hot very quickly. I also saw a wide variety of shoes: high tops, casual dress shoes, boots Ė one guy had on one shoe and one sandal made from used tires.

The race began and people surged ahead. Chad and I went slow and steady. In the first mile I counted seven people walking. "Only 25 miles to go" I thought to myself as I felt pity for them. Easily the most shocking moment of the entire run, and possibly the most shocking moment of my entire time in Uganda, came at the two mile point. A man from the crowd wearing casual pants, a button up dress shirt and loosely tied boots jumped into the race a few feet in front of me. "Heís not going to get very far dressed like that," I said to Chad. Shortly there after, a guard wearing a navy blue sweater and carrying a silver shotgun went after him. When the man refused to stop running the guard began beating him, hard, in the head and legs with the gun! He hit him five times with a loaded shot gun and then managed to punch the guy in the head with his fist. Still, the bandit runner continued. For a time the guard was running behind him, yelling something to him in Luganda while pointing the shotgun at his back. The people around me yelled "No" and even covered their ears. I was nearly certain the man was to be shot. I canít imagine what this guy was thinking or what the guard was trying to prove exactly, but eventually we were able to convince the guard to back off and let him go. I was later told by my supervisor that there could have been state officials running the marathon and the man could have been looking to harm someone, possibly even Chad and I, though it seemed unlikely at the time.

A few miles later we turned off the main roads and into the real Kampala. Back roads, little shops and stores lined the streets. Garbage everywhere. Kids chanting "How are you Muzungu. (white person)." Thick clouds of black exhaust from passing trucks. Pot holes large enough for me to lie down and disappear in. The elite half marathon group, who started after us, blew past us with mud splattered on their backs, kicked up from their fast pace.

Hearing people cheering was unusual. The spectating Ugandans didnít exactly cheer. They generally yelled something at us and then laughed. I heard someone yell "Sadam" and someone else yell "Bin Ladin." I even heard "Mexico." Groups of 30 or so were especially intimidating because you never knew what they were going to yell or do. I fully expected someone to reach out and touch me as I went by, but it never happened. There was plenty of water along the course. Bottles of it. I began carrying the water bottle with me and dousing kids and the most annoying spectators. Fortunately they seemed to think that was funny. Around the six mile point, down a long hill, I began hearing some loud cheering from a small, motley crew of white people. Unusual, I thought, to hear cheering. My friend Jacob and two other PCVs had a big sign saying "Only 25 miles to go" with our names on it. Jacobís idea of humor. They were emphatically yelling for us and it was a nice boost of adrenaline.

The miles flew by. With my pace, I thought I would finish in 3:30. The course was only sparsely marked with mile markers so when 3:25 came I started looking for the finish. "Only five more minutes. Keep going." I kept telling myself. Five minutes went by. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. I thought I saw the finish line at one point and let out an exhaustive "Thank You" only to discover I was mistaken. Finally I came to a marking: 41km (the marathon is 42.2km). They tell you when there is 1 km to go?! Iím not sure if thatís beneficial or torturous. As I came around the last corner there was a huge crowd cheering. Not Ugandans. It was about 12 PCVs who had come to see the race, but it felt like 100 of them. They cheered for everyone as they passed, but especially for us! I think I sprinted all the way to the finish line. They were so supportive. The Ugandan runners, as they passed, didnít quite know what to think. They werenít used to hearing people cheer them on and had to double check that they were really cheering for them. Some smiled, some waved, but all picked up their pace a little bit as they crossed the finish line.

Anyone who finishes a marathon is a winner. Itís like climbing a huge mountain. Itís a personal accomplishment to look back and say, "I did that" and nobody can take that from you. Running a marathon in Africa was like climbing a mountain and reading Ripleyís Believe It Or Not.

Rush County native Brian Dunn is a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: January, 2008; Peace Corps Uganda; Directory of Uganda RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Uganda RPCVs; Sports





When this story was posted in December 2008, this was on the front page of PCOL:




Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers RSS Feed

 Site Index Search PCOL with Google Contact PCOL Recent Posts Bulletin Board Open Discussion RPCV Directory Register


Director Ron Tschetter:  The PCOL Interview Date: December 9 2008 No: 1296 Director Ron Tschetter: The PCOL Interview
Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter sat down for an in-depth interview to discuss the evacuation from Bolivia, political appointees at Peace Corps headquarters, the five year rule, the Peace Corps Foundation, the internet and the Peace Corps, how the transition is going, and what the prospects are for doubling the size of the Peace Corps by 2011. Read the interview and you are sure to learn something new about the Peace Corps. PCOL previously did an interview with Director Gaddi Vasquez.

PCOL's Candidate for Peace Corps Director Date: December 2 2008 No: 1288 PCOL's Candidate for Peace Corps Director
Honduras RPCV Jon Carson, 33, presided over thousands of workers as national field director for the Obama campaign and said the biggest challenge -- and surprise -- was the volume of volunteer help, including more than 15,000 "super volunteers," who were a big part of what made Obama's campaign so successful. PCOL endorses Jon Carson as the man who can revitalize the Peace Corps, bring it into the internet age, and meet Obama's goal of doubling the size of the Peace Corps by 2011.

December 14, 2008: This Month's Top Stories  Date: December 14 2008 No: 1305 December 14, 2008: This Month's Top Stories
Michael Adlerstein to make UN green 21 Nov
Harris Wofford writes: America at a turning point 14 Nov
Margaret Krome writes: Obama win shows power of idealism 11 Nov
Joseph Acaba to fly on February Shuttle Mission 11 Dec
Mary Matterer caught in Bangkok protests 6 Dec
Gen. Victor Renuart Jr. son served in Peace Corps 6 Dec
Kim Kohler opposes mega-projects in Guatemala 5 Dec
Gretchen Snoeyenbos' small town in Mali 5 Dec
Tim Shriver Calls for 'Dept of Development and Service' 4 Dec
Phil Lilienthal brings camp to kids in South Africa 3 Dec
New Peace Corps for Kids Web Site 3 Dec
Ilene Gelbaum brings infants into the world 26 Nov
Jonathan Zimmerman writes: Nepal's ban on private schools 26 Nov
George Packer writes: Will Obama Change? 25 Nov
Aly and Buddy Shanks exhibit African art 23 Nov
Luke King heads Mercy Corps in Congo 23 Nov
Echoes of JFK unavoidable in Obama Presidency 23 Nov
Joseph Opala Connects Africa to Gullah Community 21 Nov
William Yeatman writes: Coal in Kyrgyzstan 20 Nov
Doyle may become next PC Director 14 Nov
Michael O'Hanlon writes: How to Win in Afghanistan 14 Nov

New: More Stories from October and November 2008.

Some PCVs return to Bolivia on their own Date: October 23 2008 No: 1279 Some PCVs return to Bolivia on their own
Peace Corps has withdrawn all volunteers from Bolivia because of "growing instability" and the expulsion of US Ambassador Philip Goldberg after Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the American government of inciting violence in the country. This is not the first controversy surrounding Goldberg's tenure as US ambassador to Bolivia. Latest: Some volunteers have returned to Bolivia on their own to complete their projects.

PCVs Evacuated from Georgia Date: August 19 2008 No: 1254 PCVs Evacuated from Georgia
The Peace Corps has announced that all Volunteers and trainees serving in the Republic of Georgia are safe and they have been temporarily relocated to neighboring Armenia. Read the analysis by one RPCV on how Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili believed that he could launch a lightning assault on South Ossetia and reclaim the republic without substantial grief from Moscow and that Saakashvili's statements once the war began demonstrated that he expected real Western help in confronting Russia.



Read the stories and leave your comments.








Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Rushville Republican

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Uganda; Running; Sports

PCOL40267
70


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: