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Monday, November 19, 2012

Roof of Africa Run - Stage 1

32km/20mi, 8 hours, 5900 ft vertical

Mbahe to Samanga

Before I write anything else, I have to say this is absolutely amazing!! I know it's only been a couple days of being here and just 1 day of running, so perhaps it's premature, but I doubt it.

I've been many places in the world and at dozens of events big and small - this ranks among the top. The running, the views, the people, the trails. Wow!!!

Today is the first day of the Roof of Africa Stage Run around Mt Kilimanjaro. the inaugural run. It began with a hearty early breakfast at 6:30. Then final packing and we headed off for a short walk to a tree planting. Simon was part of a program to plant trees near a natural spring in the village. The trees will serve to stabilize the land, support the spring, and generally keep the human activity near it to a minimum. After the speeches, we all helped plant some native trees.

The next stop was the Marrangu gate to the Kilimanjaro park. This was sort of the official start to the run. We all lined up for pictures and an official go!

The crew is small, Steve from Hawaii, Krissy from Boulder, Andrew the photographer from South Africa, Jerry from St Louis, Tim from Minneapolis, Simon, Edi and Ziegfried feromTanzania.  It's a great group and similar paces it seems - we stayed together the whole day.

Throughout the day we had amazing views, either up the mountain when it was clear and we could see that direction, and out to the plains and the mountains around the area. Just beautiful. We frequently had our cameras out.

Most of the day was lots of up and down, straight down into these steep ravines or canyons, and the straight back up the other side. This meant for a slow day, but beautiful. Lots of walking. It all added up to almost 6000 feet of vertical. The last canyon of the day we dubbed Jurassic canyon after Jurassic Park- it just looked like that.

Our favorite canyon though was mid afternoon with what seemed like the steepest longest descent and ascent. But it was beautiful. Going down it was narrow enough in places that it was only a half shoe wide. There was one tall tree sticking up, and still it was dwarfed by the depth. We also saw our first baboons scamper across the bottom as we descended. When we reached the bottom we found an amazing waterfall cascading down several levels,a with vines, moss, tons of green.

The whole day was green - everywhere! Stunning. Never the same though. Open fields, a small pine forest, banana forest, fields of plants, close cover running. A lot of it seemed like we were running cross country, almost making our own trails.

Notes for later, film crew, the half mile between kili and villages,kids running with us, seeing people all the time. Working 9 to 5- that was our running time. Kenny Rogers the gambler in the middle of nowhere.

One of the most amazing pieces of the run was the finish for the day. We came into a small village where our camp was set up. There was several hundred people welcoming us. Amazing and unexpected! Once at our campsite, we swapped high fives among ourselves and then with the dozens and dozens of kids watching. The kids were a captive audience for a long time as we cleaned up.

What a day! And this was only day 1!

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