Running Close to the Giants of East Africa

34 days to the start of the 2016 Grand to Grand Ultra

Greetings from Arusha in Tanzania. I arrived here late night to attend the Africans Rising Conference over the next few days.

East Africa is home to many giants – Africa’s highest mountains, the best marathon athletes in the world, and also the “Big Five”.

With a bit luck, a flight from Johannesburg to Nairobi on a cloudless day always has one big highlight – an aerial view of Mount Kilimanjaro. The view is even better on the short flight from Nairobi to Arusha. Despite its fast disappearing ice cap, Africa’s iconic mountain remains a beautiful sight. Unfortunately, no such luck during yesterday’s flights.

My conference is held at the TS Training Centre for Development Cooperation, approximately 20km from Arusha, and nestled on the slopes of Mount Meru, the fifth highest mountain in Africa.

Mount Meru was not visible this morning due to low-hanging clouds. Fortunately, I decided to delay my training run until this afternoon and it is indeed an impressive sight.

It is often difficult to train while travelling, but when possible, I always go for a run not only to keep up with my training schedule, but also to explore the local area. Sights such as Mount Meru make these runs very special.

But running in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia is extra special given the running culture and international success of long-distance runners from the region. Kenyans won both the men’s and women’s marathons at the Rio Olympics, the first time that athletes from one country achieved this unique double. These performances, together with the accomplishments of Wayde van Niekerk, Caster Semenya and other African athletes, will hopefully inspire the continent’s next generation of world beaters.

Unfortunately, I didn’t meet any local runners (or any of the “Big Five”) today, just many curious onlookers staring at a mzungu running in the shadows of Africa’s big mountains.

The countdown to the Grand to Grand Ultra continues…


I’m using my participation in the Grand to Grand Ultra to raise public awareness about NTDs, highlight the work of the END Fund, and mobilise $10 000 in support of the END Fund’s work in Africa.

I invite you to support my fundraising campaign and encourage others to do the same.

Follow updates on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, fundraising page, and via the END Fund’s various online platforms.

Together, we can END NTDs!

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