Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Out of Africa

Good Morning Barefooters,
Headlamps Bobbing Down the Road in Ganta 
Thanks for your patience, my post is a little late...our team just arrived last night back in the US after a two week mission trip to Ganta Liberia (western Africa).

It was another excellent mission trip with many "God moments" and also afforded the opportunity to do some great barefoot running with some old and new-found running buddies:  Gary Adams, Brian Fulk, Kelly Kurth, Mark (our Liberian bus driver), Konah Drougbay and Zephaniah (who just joined me one morning mid-run!)  There was a different mixture of runners each of the 9 mornings we ran, and only once the whole trip did I venture out alone.  All the runs were between 1.01 to 4.26 miles and were on surfaces ranging from smooth asphalt to VERY rough, rocky footpaths and backroads.  The morning temps were always hovering around 80 degrees F and it really didn't rain the whole time we were there, so dust & smoke were always a factor on these pre-dawn headlamp runs.

Black Mamba - uh, dead!
One morning we even came across a black mamba snake (don't worry, it had already been killed) but had to walk back to it with Travis to get a picture.  It's head had been crushed and Trav was surprised that no one had picked it up yet to make a meal of it (it did disappear later in the day).  We never saw any live critters on the run other the spiders, large ants and the occasional dog (tame) and chickens.  I was always a little leary running the edges of the paths hoping not to find any live snakes...although the edges often times afforded the only relief from the sharp rock.  I escaped with no major injuries and had only a few arch bruises and a deep heel blood blister the second day up in Ganta.
"Brave" runners - Brian, Dan, Gary

The activities on the mission trip included 4 different vision clinics, networking of the school's computer lab, hanging signs in the "zoo" and some small construction projects like hanging a light and a porch swing.  For those of you who've been there before, please come back and see the amazing progress on this project.  The building of the ARC (Agriculture Research Center) has taken 5 years to complete but has been an amazing labor of love by many different teams and was the God-given vision of Travis Sheets (founder, Hope in the Harvest Missions Intl.)

Earlier in the month of January I had attempted to run the Disney Marathon barefoot in under 4 hours to complete my quest to run all 50 US States in under 4 hours (50Sub4 Marathon Club).  Had I completed this goal, I would have been the 92nd finisher in the club and the first of the year...BUT I guess God had other plans!  My epic fail at the race was disappointing overall but I still enjoyed the trip and would recommend the Disney marathon to others...it just wasn't my day.  The weather was a cold 37 degrees at the start (RARE for Florida!) with a 17MPH wind.  Additionally, the races from the previous day had been cancelled due to lightning so many of those runners gained entry into the marathon the next day.  While they were all in corrals behind my "C" corral, it did add to the congestion getting from the baggage drop to the start line and I ended up having to RUN/JOG to the start line so I was anything BUT relaxed as I started the race.  It was a 5:30AM start and after standing around shivering for 2 hours prior, I was really not in optimal fast racing condition. 
With Lecia at Disney
 4-hour Pace Leader and fellow 50Sub4 Wannabe
I did keep the requisite sub-nine pace for the first 16 miles or so but then the wind, the winding turns, and the rough surfaces all combined to slow me down.  I still had about 3 minutes "in the bank" as we entered the ESPN sport complex at mile 16 but the roughness turned more severe, as the runners were directed onto the gravel baseball diamond infields and various other weird surfaces...so I slowly, and painfully, gave back my banked minutes and watched the 4-hour pace group swallow me up and spit me out as they marched onto the finish in the last 2 miles.  The pace group let by Lecia Williams Holley (new friend I met just after the race), ended up not quite hitting their required pace either and besides, I knew they had started a couple corrals behind me and that I would need to be a couple minutes ahead of them at the finish to have a chance at the four hour mark.  Also, of all things, my Garmin watch locked up halfway through the race so I wasn't able to get accurate paces from about 15 miles on which only further distracted me as it all slipped out of reach...arrgh!  Still it was beautiful to experience the pre-dawn LED lit Disney Castle in the Magic Kingdom and the other Disney parks as well as the Disney character photo-ops...I only stopped at one but I can't blame that for my 11minute "miss" of 4:11.

Oh well, now I just need to go back to Florida again to secure the 50th state.  Earl Strong and I have a plan to go back in late March to try again.  Earl and I ran many of the 50 states together the first time around so it will be fun to do another road trip with Earl to finish this circuit as well.  More to follow on that one as I continue to recover from the very busy month of January.

God Bless You All,

Barefoot Dan

January Mileage = 95.4 miles

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