Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A truly 'International' Half Marathon!

It has been a while since I’ve last posted, and so much has been happening here in Tamale. Our season has changed from hot and dry to relatively cool and wet. Yes, the rainy season has finally arrived. From October til early April, not a single drop of rain fell over Tamale and the Northern Regions of Ghana. We saw a quick transition from green lush fields full of maize and rice, to harvest season and leaves and stocks withering and drying, to the harmattan with hot dry winds that turned the country side to a semi-desert. Now the rains are falling about once a week, and all is green and humid. It’s a welcome relief from the punishing 43C+ heat waves during the months of February and March (see the photo below taken in my kitchen during the peak heat).

In the most recent news, a good friend from Tamale and I have organized a truly ‘international’ half marathon race this past Sunday, April 29th. The run was initially conceived as a run involving both my Ghanaian friends as well as members of two EWB chapters in Canada as part of our ‘Working Partnerships’ connection. (The WP program enables volunteers in Africa to communicate with EWB members back home to share stories and challenges of development, while the chapters raise funds to cover a portion of the overseas volunteer’s expenses).

(Dan and I describing the course before the start)

However, after discussing plans with friend and star marathoner Daniel Zakaria, we decided it would be a great opportunity to bring people out for a kick start to Dan’s new club – the “Real Tamale Athletic and Yoga Club”.

And so it went…. on Sunday we brought together a crew of volunteers, twenty local racers, and a handful of Siliminga ‘casual’ runners, and we hit the road for 21km of sheer running bliss.

(Dan taking first place in the 1/2 marathon)

The race began shortly after 6am, and within the first kilometer, the local racers were waaaaay ahead of the ex-pat crew, consisting of three Canuks (me, Luke Brown, Gwen Henderson), one Norwegian (Jon), and one French man (Baptiste).

(The racers!)

Needless to say, none of us were in fantastic shape, so our pace was a little more casual than the serious racers. Add the African heat and intense sun, and you tend to get a slower run that usual. But no complaints from us, we all had a great time!

(Dan and I post race)

Adding another dimension to the run was the involvement of members from my WP chapters in Canada joining us for a run on the weekend. Friends from the Montreal EWB chapters and University of Manitoba chapter hit the streets to show their support, and they spread the word about the run to draw attention to international development.

(Montreal EWB runners pumped for the big run!)

The Montreal crew consisted of an even mix of EWB’ers from Polytechnique, Concordia, and McGill (check out the exciting pre-run photo!), and they ran a loop through the city making stops at each school. Another group of cross country runners from Memorial University in Newfoundland dedicated their weekend long run to support the cause! Huge thanks to Mark Brophy, Peter Bazeley, Amy Colbourne, Thomas Martin for braving the cold and wet weather over a 21km+ run!!! It was amazing to make the run truly ‘international’ and involve runners on both sides of the Atlantic! If the stars are aligned next year, we just might hold the '2nd Annual International Run for Development'! Anyone interested???

In other news, I will soon be pounding the tarmac in Canada! That’s right, just three weeks left here in Ghana, and I’ll be back in the motherland drinking delicious Tim Hortons coffee and taking in the NHL playoffs on TV. My time here is winding to a close, and I am both excited to get home to see my friends and family, and sad about leaving my new friends here in Tamale. But now is not the time to think of such things, I’ve still got three solid weeks of work to wrap things up and make sure that my impact here is positive and sustainable! Its unfortunate that I couldn’t share more of my experiences online, but I will try to get more information up on this blog in the coming weeks, and of course as soon as I get back home.

Special thanks to Luke Brown for taking fantastic photos of the race!

Much love from Ghana!

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