After having a day of rest in Lichinga, we drove back to the place where I finished running two days before. I planned on pushing through the last few hundred kilometres of running to get to the coast with no more days off. Thankfully the crowds of pushing and shouting people slowly decreased and the terrain changed for a few days but not all went so smoothly.
Keep reading to learn about days 78 - 85 out of 89 (November 16 - 23rd 2014) ...
Day 78 - 59.32km
There are now far less people around which means I am more relaxed in my running, not getting shouted at and pushed around. At the beginning of the day I was running on a smaller dirt road which was great and then in the afternoon we ended up on a 4x4 track which went through a forest. It was heaven, just the right amount of shade to be cool and good terrain to be running on. This new environment and peace away from the crowds of people, restored my love of running.
Day 79 - 67.28km
Running through the shady trees at 04:30 is so cool and refreshing, perfect running conditions. In and out of the shade, over a moderately undulating 4x4 track, with the sun high in the perfectly clear blue sky. This is the image runners only see in dreams! It was mostly dream-like until I was so in the swing of running, that I went flying over a rock and grazed my hands and knees like a child. Ouch! Mike did a very good job of not laughing. I was completely in shock and baffled by the whole event. Today was the furthest distance I have run so far, but as it was so pleasant and relaxing it didn't feel like hard work at all.
Day 80 - 65.75km
Back on tar road today. My feet feel absolutely demolished from the pressure of running on the road. It's just not enjoyable. I miss my dirt track! As far as tar roads go though, this isn't too bad. Its a brand new road that will pretty much take me all the way to the end. There are no villages and basically no traffic. Peaceful. We were visited, at lunch time today, by the police who probably thought we were poachers but after having a play around with a few items in the vehicle, they left us in peace.
Day 81 - 67.18km
Another long day. I slept really badly so felt super tired. The rain has been waking me up in the night and then I can't get back to sleep. Everything is continually soaked due to rain and/or humidity. I take my clothes off wet at night and I put them back on wet in the morning, and they stay wet all day. The sweat doesn't properly evaporate. I have had to stop wearing my pack as the sweat/salt crystals have been rubbing my back and I am going to end up with really nasty sores if I keep wearing it. Not only is everything wet but there are also ants and creepy crawlies all over my shoes and things in the morning and at break times. I was grateful for a cloudy spell in the middle of the day as it created a slight cooling effect. The scenery today has been incredibly beautiful, rolling hills as far as the eye can see.
Day 82 - 65.11km
At 03:15, me and Mike both woke up as an elephant was stomping around outside our tent. It was getting closer and closer. We communicated silently with various hand signals and made the decision to rapidly get out of the tent and make our way into the car. It was still dark so this was done by torch light in a very disjointed fashion, trying to spot any deadly snakes on the floor while trying to not make too much light and noise that the elephant spots us and charges. We made it to the car. And we lived to tell the tale. The elephant probably had another agenda and we were the least of its concerns.
There was lots of uphill running in the morning and by the time we got to the first break Mike was experiencing similar symptoms to when he was really ill. He rested for the second section and Robert took over as cycle support again. It was lovely getting to chat to Robert more, and we spoke for the entire time I was running. In the evening we slept in a quarry, this seemed very un-African, and a really unique, special experience. Very peaceful.
Day 83 - 70.69km
Mike didn't really sleep all night, as he was in so much pain with his stomach, he had to get out of the tent and pace around to try and control the pain. Robert rode with me again.
We had a hilarious incident today, which made me realise that I am running in extremely isolated places. As I was running up a hill, there were two women ahead, walking towards us with very large buckets on their heads, presumably with washing or water inside. They were quite far ahead, perhaps 500m. They spotted me and Robert, and were so scared of what they saw, that they turned around and started sprinting away from us, still with buckets on heads. Every now and then, they would turn around to see where we were. One woman was so scared and desperate to get away that she didn't want to be restricted by the sarong covering her legs, so she ripped it off. As I wasn't carrying a huge bucket on my head, I crept closer and closer to the women. They moved to the other side of the road. I could see that they had eventually given in to the fact that I was going to get near to them and they would have to accept their fate as I was catching up. As we slowly approached the two exhausted women, we both greeted them, enthusiastically. The looks on their faces were priceless. The look of 'phew!', combined with fear, embarrassment and joy all at once. As we passed, all four of us burst out into laughter.
Toward the end of the day the road returned to dirt track. Yippee!
Day 84 - 66.22km
Today was terrible. All day my whole body felt really tender and sore. I couldn't get my mind sorted either. At some points I even stopped and cried. When I got to the end of the day I couldn't speak, I just burst into tears. When we found somewhere to camp I went straight to bed with no food, I just felt so horrendous. My stomach was in excruciating pain. I thought I might be coming down with what Mike had. I managed to get myself out of the tent in time to empty my bowels quite rapidly. I was in so much pain and so tired that I really wanted to take a sleeping pill to get some rest, but I was so scared I might poo my pants in my sleep!
Day 85 - 58.85km
I woke up feeling a million times better today which really surprised me as I had been in so much pain all night. At the start of the day I had to stop for a very liquidy poo. By the end of my first run I was really struggling but I figured if I could get some energy into me, then I could get through it. I ate some dry toast and porridge. The second stint was even harder, by the time I stopped I was exhausted. I ate some rice and toast, and tried to rest but couldn't. The third stint was a painful struggle. I was running so slow, and stopped every 2km for diarrhea. It almost seemed like a waste of time trying.
At one point I had safely done a few farts and thought all was going well. I felt the need for another fart so carried on my business, while running, only to find that I had filled my pants with what is best described as a tins-worth of yellow emulsion. This then had to be evacuated in a ditch at the side of the road while people continued walking to work etc. Mike tried to hide me with his bike but not sure how successful that was. A nice treat for the locals!
I gradually became slower and slower, and in more and more pain until I couldn't continue any more. My dreams of completing the run in the next three days have probably disappeared.
Keep checking my website and social media for the final 'Run across Africa' blog.