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heels on fire: Day 2

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Day 2


Tuesday 2nd May 2006
Nileswaram to Trikkaripur

Departing from our hotel in Bekkal for the starting point in Nileswaram this morning I had a real sense of dread. I had been carrying a heatstroke-headache from the previous evening – even though we had run in the late afternoon. Deep down I knew I wasn't feeling the best. I also saw Rahul looking forlorn and knew his knee was going to hold him back. I would seriously miss his company.

Nileswaram at 6am epitomises any other Indian town or city at this time of day. People mingle quietly in bus stops and tea dhaba's (small makeshift shops). The women wear (and look extremely elegant) in brightly coloured saris. The men wear the traditional mundu - a long piece of well-woven cloth with coloured border that is wrapped around the waist. Formally it is worn to the ankles. Informally it is folded above the knee. Either way it makes more sense than the clothing of a distance runner.

Within minutes of running I was receiving head tilts of bemusement and calls of 'where are you headed'? The understated head-waves (emanating from a waist high point) got me smiling as I jogged along a road fringed with coconut trees and fiery coloured flora. The sun was rising fast. My headache was pounding. Vulture like birds circled overhead. After 4kms or so I climbed my first major hill. Feeling really rough I staggered to the side of the road and managed to throw up the contents of my stomach. Just as I was finishing up the second time the team came around the corner in the 4 x 4. Thankfully they missed filming the worst of it. There is an ongoing challenge where Desmond, Sudeep and Stevie are determined to catch all of the nasty hardships of the run, whilst Rahul and I are keen not to look too much like fools.

A pat on the back and a big smile from Rahul got me back on the way. Strangely I felt so much better, and a bit lighter. Avoiding buses and waving at people kept me going for another 5kms or so. I began to take in the smells, sights and sounds around me: the smell of early morning cooking fires and jasmine, and people opening up their businesses and going about their day. A group of men insisted that I come over and join them in a teashop. No doubt I looked like I needed a cup of tea and a chair! My poor Malayalam (the language of Kerala) and even worse hand signs did little more than draw amusement. I would say something like, 'I am running from Kazaragod to Kannykumari', to which the response would be, 'OK'.

A few climbs and 'long slow straights' later and the sun was kicking into full effect. How can I explain the heat? Well try running in your running kit with a backpack on and a hat on your head in your local sauna. People will look at you in the sauna just as they look at me out here - like I am mad. You will hardly be able to breath. Your lungs will scream and shout, your pulse will race and your mind will be dizzy with pending heatstroke. We take every precaution we can. We drink for Ireland and England, we take carefully concocted mixes of electrolytes and we carry Gatorade. Even so, it’s going to take time to get used to it all. I'm hoping that I will acclimatise in due course.

With seven kilometres to go I had a chat with Stevie on the walkie-talkie. When you are in the middle of nowhere, a friendly voice means a lot. Even better the support vehicle popped up moments later. Rahul was waiting with a peeled banana and a bottle of water. Des was in his photo-taking position - as if he was pushing against a wall, where the wall was invisible. Sudeep (or boy-band as we like to call him) was heads down with Stevie behind the video camera.

I wish I could report more on the sights along the road today, but to be frank with you - I really struggled in the heat. This was the hardest 15km run I have ever done in my life. It was as much as I could do just to keep shuffling along. The day ended at a place called Trikkaripur, a small village notable for the Banyan trees (undoubtedly from their size, well over a hundred years old) and the local people who have 32-teeth smiles.

3 Comments:

At Wed May 03, 04:44:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Chris Salt said...

Nice to see Rahul is now an accomplished travel writer (as per Indian Express)!

Keep it up!

Cheers


Chris

 
At Thu May 04, 02:48:00 PM 2006, Blogger Kalahari Larry said...

Don't forget your Northern Ireland roots, Pete - NO SURRENDER.

You're inspiring us all, my friend.

 
At Thu May 04, 03:22:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dez, be nice to the cows!!!!
RK

 

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