Imagine this situation: it’s a lovely morning, the sun is shining, you wake up in a cottage surrounded by beautiful mountains putting on trainers preparing for a little run (‘cause you’re running a marathon in a few weeks’ time) and then suddenly, out of the blue, Albert shows up and asks you: “Can I go for a run with you?”
What would you say? Two weeks ago, I was in that situation and said yes.
If you’ve ever seen Albert, you know he’s got the right physical characteristics of a marathon runner. I thought his insanely skinny legs had nothing to do with genetic predispositions of long-distance runners. That was the first mistake I made that day.
You should also know that Albert’s daily energy intake mostly consists of sweets so I thought he would run out of sugar in fifteen minutes and then we’d run back. That was the second mistake I made that day. Finally, I even let him choose the route for us. That was the last and by far the biggest mistake I made that day.
I ran before him and he navigated me by simple commands: “Left, right, straight ahead.” I was feeling great for the first half an hour and then Albert started losing speed so I felt even better. The gap between us was widening and I was just waiting for him drop down to his knees desperately looking for a pack of Haribos in the middle of the forest. But he seemed hooked on an invisible rubber band behind me: The more he struggled, the more easily he kept up smiling and shouting: “Can you see that hill there? That’s the route.”
After the next 30 minutes I started being suspicious. “Maybe he was born in Bekoji? Maybe he’s got some relatives in Ethiopia. Those skinny legs don’t lie. And he’s still smiling. I think I’m gonna die.” When we finally got to the top of the hill, I literally felt like I could die. Then Albert stopped, looked around and said: “I know where we are, we’re in Poland! There’s a bobsleigh track near here. Let’s go and check it out! But please can we just stop running now? I’m wasted.”
He later admitted he’d nearly given up after the first 20 minutes, that he’d got lost and hadn’t been able to catch his breath for the next 80 minutes. In fact, his smiling face was the expression of pure suffering but he just didn’t want to give up.
No, he’s not some bloody Kenenisa Bekele, he’s an idiot like me pushing his boundaries much more than necessary. Looking back at it, though, the training was worth it! Lake Malawi Team came 7th in the Ostrava Marathon Relay Race beating 61 other teams of runners. We ran 2×5 km each and these are the results. Let’s have some Haribos now…