Sierra Leone, Day 4.
It was great to see the arrival of Tim Watts and Neil Henery but sad to hear that although the their journey went smoothly, their luggage has had a more leisurely trip to Sierra Leone. We hope it will arrive on Monday. This failed to hinder them running after borrowing shorts, trainers and everything else. We had a 4am start today, and at 5.45am the President of SL declared the marathon open (and the country almost open). We ran through villages, high fived so many children, waited for two oxen to cross the road, dodged a dead kitten along the course, saw the sun rise and watched Beej film on the back of a motorbike like a pro! Truly mad but extremely moving. It's not about the race it's about being a sign of hope in as many villages as possible.
The Sierra Leonian Red Cross were the course marshals. They were the guys who were right in the thick of Ebola and it was lovely to see them stand in solidarity so we thanked them at every water point. Ambulances were leant to us from other NGOs and, interestingly, the choir director of Norwich Cathedral's wife (sorry that's not her name but it's a Norwich connection) was the volunteer medic. In my head was her voice ringing "if you over heat there is only one way I can monitor your temperature and that's with a rectal thermometer" (this focused our prayers).
It's a small world running with 300 Sierra Leonians, and then 50 westerners from places like KXC church London, Chichester Diocese, insurance companies, Oxfam, St Marks Battersea Rise and a few other places. All sorts of people converging in the most unlikely place for the most unlikely event. Everyone from Team St T is well (and I was personally pleased to get a PB after feeling a little roasted from the day before). This is such a unique and unforgettable day. Although it was great to finish the race I think I will remember the amputee girl and her disabled sister who asked for food by the side of the course at the finish line. Team St Thomas celebrated together with the girls with lots of coca cola and rice and somehow it seemed like the perfect end to the race and the start of the marathon to end poverty.