Peace in Kigali

The Kigali Peace Marathon took place recently and a number of VSO volunteers took part in it. Unfortunately, the best I could do for peace was walk the 5km ‘Fun Run’ circuit. Better than nothing I suppose.  The Kofi Annan contribution if you will…

Alice who was running 10km in the VSO relay team stayed at my house the night before and made sure I got up at 6 a.m. to get to Amahoro Stadium in time for the 7a.m. kick-off.  Otherwise, helping with peace may have had to wait awhile.

We stumbled up to the stadium and pinned our numbers onto our T-shirts.  Whilst trying to dispel the feelings of foolishness in just walking, we set off all together; the marathon runners, half marathon, 10km relay and the 5km ‘Fun Run’ and me & Katharine…

It was fascinating to be walking about the closed off streets of Kigali and to see the reaction of people on the pavement who I doubt had planned on watching a marathon and seemed more intrigued than anything else.  My walking partner and I were laughed at a fair few times and encouraged to actually run. Oh the shame.

It was great to see a good number of women running and doing really well.  Away from the leaders (also known as ‘Kenyans’) there were a fair few girls running with no shoes (on tarmac) and no bra.  This was somewhat incongruous with the big stadium setting and I hope that in time this will change.

That said, other than the more professional runners and the white contingent, footwear in general was quite random.  I heard the man in football boots coming from behind me a long time before he arrived!  It was really inspiring to see so many people taking part and doing well in spite of their limited kit. When Katharine and I were overtaken by a chap with one leg and on crutches (he was doing the half marathon to great applause) we felt we should probably step up the pace and get on with it!

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