With only a few days of running left to complete the cross-continental challenge, I was desperate to keep going and not be held back. But considering how much energy I had lost over the last couple of days, things weren't looking so great.
Day 86 - 0km
I woke up early this morning so that I would be able to get back to the start point for the day, and hopefully manage to get some distance under my belt. I lay in bed and tried to figure out how I felt, if I was capable of running or not. After quite a bit of talking to myself, attempting to bully myself or fool myself into running, I came to the decision that I just could not run. I had no energy in my body and I probably wouldn't be going further than a few meters. So I just lay feeling sorry for my weary body.
In the night, I had a couple of incidents which required sprinting out of the tent, and a fresh pair of undies being put on. I also had some serious cramping, stabbing pains in my abdomen. Other than that, I had slept well as I had given in and taken a sleeping tablet. So for once, lack of sleep was no concern. But even after having a good night, I managed to spend the whole day horizontal, dozing in and out, on a concrete floor. Walking to the toilet, which is about 20m away, left me feeling completely drained and depleted of all energy. Good decision not to run. I figured if I can rest well all day and start some antibiotics, then I might feel strong enough to get back on it tomorrow.
Day 87 - 73.17km
And I was right. When I woke up, I had energy in my legs again, wahoo!!! When I walked I felt there was substance, energy, sugar, something, in my muscles. It had been a while since I felt like this. After expelling the content of my bowels in a strange school toilet block in town, I was on my way. I managed to run 25km before breakfast. All day, the running felt really good, my legs were in some kind of floaty, trance-like state. They seemed to have mind of their own and were running ahead of me. I guess they knew the end was near. I did have a lot of energy bloks to help me along, thank you Clif Bar! The roads have flattened out quite a bit which gives a real sense of getting close to the coast, close to the end.
Back on the road, ready to kick ass!!!
Day 88 - 74.17km
Back to having terrible sleep again. One of the things I am most looking forward to about finishing is actually managing to sleep again. I don't feel I have slept properly for the past three months. After breakfast the team left me and Mike to go on to the end. Unintentionally, this day was the longest of the trip as we couldn't find anywhere to sleep. We finally had to ask a lovely, local man if we could sleep in his garden. This was all done with hand gestures and I'm sure he thought we were completely insane, two white people with a pop-up house that comes off a bike, and a mini fire to cook with. They had great fun watching it all unfold. Unfortunately for them we weren't very interesting to watch as we quickly disappeared to sleep, as we were exhausted.
Day 89 - 62.11km
Not far to the coast! And for that reason we woke up at 03:00 to start running in the dark, purely out of excitement for finishing. I hadn't slept much as I was holding in my pee, I didn't dare pee in the garden we were camped in. I was running by 03:30 while it was still dark. It was beautiful, the stars were bright and absolutely gorgeous in the clear sky. I ran with my head torch on until the sun was bright enough to see the road, taking precautions in case any snakes were dozing on the warm tar.
I felt quite emotional. Tears welled in my eye and a lump appeared in my throat. I held it back as I thought there would be plenty of crying later. After such a long time, the end was so close.
We found a nice, big, shady tree to have our last porridge of the trip under. I did my last bit of stretching. The last time I would take off my stinky shoes to air my beaten feet. The last time I would hang my soaked vest to dry and allow my skin to breath. As we edged closer to Pemba, there were quite a few distance markers which gave me a massive motivational boost as I saw the kilometres disappear.
Eventually, I had my first sighting of the Indian Ocean. After being landlocked for so long, through such a physically demanding challenge, the sight of the ocean was quite magnificent. As I ran down the peninsular that Pemba sits at the end of, the sea was visible on both sides, I felt like I was on top of the world. In Pemba, I ran to the Avani Beach Hotel which was to be my finish line. I was guided though the hotel by their staff who cheers me on and then down to the beach. My running slowed and I carefully made my way into the ocean where I floated and took the weight off my feet.
That was it. I had run all the way across Africa, from west to east. Three months of running in the heat and humidity. The flood of emotion I expected never came. I just felt empty. Everything I had spent the last year working towards was over. What a journey. Time to rest my feet.
Total distance run: 3,974.11km
Equivalent of 94 marathons in 89 days.
13 days off, so 76 days of running.
2 bars of soap!