Monday, September 21, 2009

The rainy season begins!

And my lesson for the day is, don't believe what a non-runner tells you.

This morning I went out for my scheduled 12 mi run. I really wanted to run up the hill and into the neighborhoods -- Kadutu and Panzi and beyond -- rather than going to the border, then Centre Ville and then out by the port. Mostly because although the second choice is paved, it also means dealing with a lot more cars and trucks. But it started raining (finally!) this week and I was afraid that Kadutu and Panzi might be one big mud slosh. Thousands of people, motorcycles and cars and large trucks, and one of the major routes into and out of town, all on a dirt road seemed like a formula for seriously slippery mud to me.

But, on the other hand, we had driven to Kadutu market yesterday and didn't find much mud, mostly nicely hard packed and rocky dirt with the dry season dust washed away. So, I had a conversation with our guard about what he thought the road conditions would be like. He said, no there won't be any mud there now. It rained overnight when no people were walking on it and not many cars. No problem.

Oh, oh, oh how wrong he was. View the photo -- my once white-ish Brooks Trance, my foot even under the muddy sock was full of mud, and that went all up my legs.

Otherwise it was a fine run and I did, finally, do 12 miles. But next time I am definitely wearing my trail shoes. There were spots where I simply had to walk because it was so slippery it was treacherous. Other places, I tried to run delicately in muddy sections where there were some rocks underneath to provide some traction, but on more than one occasion I upset a few people as I passed because I must have splashed some mud on them. (Africans' ability to navigate through mud so that the tops of their shoes and their pants & long skirts stay clean is absolutely amazing.)

The mud was really pretty incredible. It is not the sticky red stuff we had around Bamenda. It is darker brown and slippery. Running through some of these areas today, it is hard to imagine that they will ever again be dry. The mud was easily several inches deep. Maybe they won't ever be dry again until the next dry season. Scary thought. It's not just that people walking (and running) risk falling, but there are cars and minivans and rather large trucks that slide around in the stuff and could easily hit you. It takes a lot of focused attention to run in these conditions, particularly in regular running shoes. I do hope the trail shoes help with the slipping, though I bought them when I was in the Solmon Islands and have never tried them in mud (La Sportiva Fireblades).

I have to give credit to the Brooks, though. They did good work. They have good traction, just not sticky soles.

Next week, I think I'll stick to the tarmac. . .

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