heels on fire: Day 8

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Day 8

8th May 2006
Kulathur to Malappuram, 21km

(An account by Dan Inman who has joined the heels on fire team in Kerala for a couple of weeks)

Picture the scene: a spacious hotel room with twin beds, a television in the corner, a fan furiously spinning on the ceiling seemingly ready to detach itself and commit GBH, an air conditioning unit going nine to the dozen on the outer wall, an eclectic collection of running equipment strewn over the room, and me, sitting on my bed in a pair of shorts with the tube from my hydration pack stuck in my mouth like a drip. And it's nearly 7 o'clock in the evening! I'm not setting the scene in search of sympathy; I do it because this is the reality of life in pre-monsoon Kerala. According to some of the local people I have encountered already, it's not even hot yet! It may not be hot in terms of actual degrees Celsius, but someone has definitely stolen the wind leaving just an oppressive, almost eerie stillness. It’s humidity maximised and it's the conditions in which everyday life continues to rumble on, and in most cases without such luxuries as an air conditioning unit.
This may account for many of the bewildered looks that are a memory of my first day of running with the heels on fire collective. My favourite one being the motorcyclist staring in such bemusement that his visor snapped shut as if triggered by the thoughts coming from within the helmet. Moments like these raise a smile and are a welcome distraction from your increasingly heavy legs and the cravings to drink a reservoir. Just as when Dez stopped us to have our photo taken with a couple of young boys and girls. Later to be informed by Dez that the girls were the brave ones who had agreed to share the limelight with members of the opposite sex. There is a spirit of curiosity and fun here and I would love to be a fly on the wall to some of the discussions after we have dripped on by.
This was my first day of running with Pete and Rahul and I had been looking forward to it with cautious glee. Even the alarm call at 4.30am was bearable. This comment will doubtless be retracted after a couple more days! Having only flown in yesterday I was grateful for the couple of hours of kip I had managed to grab in a hammock before being rudely awoken by water poured over my head. Really, where are the manners nowadays?! We drove to Kulathur, selected a suitable starting point, fuelled up our camel packs and headed into the unknown. Three hours and 21 kilometres later we arrived in a now awake and bustling Malappuram. Personally I had no idea it was possible to sweat so much in the wee small hours of the morning, but it is! Along the way we were privileged to witness a magical and mystical scene of a mist smothered expanse of coconut trees, play a brief game of football with some kids, and sample a locally grown jackfruit.
It’s jackfruit season and Ismail, a sprightly 58-year old jackfruit trader happily treated us to one of his finest. A ripe jackfruit is massive and can weigh anything over 4 kgs. It is harvested by carrying it down the tall and often broad trees. It is carried down or lowered gently with a rope as to drop it would ruin the fruit. I'm sure there is a local age old, tried and tested harvesting technique. However, when you look up to a jackfruit hanging precariously off the tree it doesn't take a genius to acknowledge that it would be quite some feat of strength and agility. A decent jackfruit is relatively inexpensive to a Keralite where they can be found in abundance, but apparently if you head out of Kerala you could be in for a price shock.
I absolutely enjoyed my first day with the heels on fire brigade. After really having to push out the last couple of kilometres I am under no illusions about the magnitude of this physical challenge. The heat and humidity do things to your body, unpredictable things, even a reversal of what I was expecting. I also can't wait to get deeper into Kerala life and already know that there is a treat in store for tomorrow ( and it's not the 5am start!)


At Tue May 09, 08:35:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done dan, you are a star and have achieved so much just getting out there and running with pele and co. kook out he has a wicked sense of the ridiculous and a photographer standing by!

At Wed May 10, 08:16:00 AM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice one Dan! I know it took a great deal of determination for you to get out and join the guys. We're all routing from you back here in the White Collar World. Lots of love, Foxy. xxx

At Thu May 11, 04:49:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan is a legend. He has really helped us push up the distances and has added loads to the running.

Respect to Mr Inman!



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