Part 2: Recovering, Return to Africa & Five Marathon Majors
So where were we? Ah, yes. After my release from hospital in Guatemala and a few days rest, I continued my journey north...
March 2018: Caye Caulker, Belize
A week after being released from hospital, I made it to the Caribbean Coast and had my first 'post-Dengue' run around the island of Caye Caulker. I had lost weight and strength but was hopeful that I had enough training in my legs with only a month remaining until Boston.
March 2018: Tulum, Mexico
Moving up the Caribbean Coast in Mexico, sleeping in a tent village and spending the mornings running beaches and coastal Mayan ruins (to looks of bewilderment from the hordes of holidaymakers).
March 2018: San Luis Potosi, Mexico
San Luis Potosi. At 6400ft/1940m above sea level and a decent offering of sports facilities and public open spaces, it was the perfect spot for a DIY altitude training camp and some final training before Boston. I spent many hours in Parque Tangamanga, a huge, sprawling green space in the south-west of the city. On a Sunday morning it felt as though the whole city came out as one to walk, run, cycle and skate through the park. As the morning turns into afternoon, the barbecues start, the drinks are cracked open and it's just the daft distance runners left, finishing off those last few miles.
April 2018: Creel, Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico
As a big fan of the book 'Born to Run' by Christopher McDougall, I had pencilled in a few days to explore the Copper Canyons and see the legendary 'Raramuri'. Unfortunately, with the time lost along the way and only 15 days until Boston Marathon, it looked as though I would miss out altogether. The day before my bus across the border, I decided to attempt to get as far as Creel and back. This involved a 5hr bus journey from Chihuahua, a hilarious treasure hunt for a room on a sell out Semana Santa weekend (with the assistance of several helpful locals) and an early start to get a run and some huevos rancheros in before another 5hrs on the bus back to Chihuahua and the start of a long journey up to Dallas.
April 2018: Chicago, US
Chicago is such an amazing city to run in. Miles of shoreline paths and urban parks. I stopped here for a few days en-route to Boston to have a rest from constant travelling, catch up with friends, pick up some new running shoes and get acclimatised to the colder weather.
April 2018: Boston, US & London, UK
The spoils from six crazy days which would include two world marathon majors in very testing conditions (for different reasons!), a transatlantic flight and a knee injury that would result in three months out.
May 2018: Masaka, Uganda
Putting on running sessions in rural Uganda with the next generation of Ugandan runners as the heat subsides and sun sets.
May 2018: Masaka, Uganda
Another year of working on the Uganda Marathon culminates with the usual magnificent week of magic, chaos, old & new friendships, tears and laughter.
June 2018: Nairobi, Kenya
After a couple of weeks R&R in deepest Uganda, I travel along the Kenyan coast and up to Nairobi. I finally get to an MRI scanning facility to discover the extent of the knee injury that had prevented me from running since April.
July 2018: Iten, Kenya
Achieving a dream to visit Iten - the 'Home of Champions' and witness close up how the elite distance runners of Kenya train. Even with my heavily strapped knee, I couldn't resist a brief shuffle under the famous arch.
July 2018: Kapchorwa, Uganda
Eastern Uganda, on the edge of Mount Elgon. Working through some strength and conditioning exercises with George from Coach to Coach Uganda in front of the stunning Sipi Falls. (photo: From Coach to Coach Uganda)
August 2018: Dartmoor National Park, UK
After returning to the UK for some medical tests and physio treatment I was able to resume training. Where better to get back to business than on the trails and hills of Dartmoor.
September 2018: Berlin, Germany
After eight weeks back in training, I took on another 26.2 miles at Berlin Marathon.
October 2018: Chicago, US
Three weeks later, it was back to the US to take on Marathon Major number four of 2018 in Chicago.
October 2018: Chicago, US
Whilst in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with 'Chicago Run', a non-profit working in Sports Based Youth Development in the city. One of their many community running projects is at Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center where a season of coached running sessions culminated in a 3K race at the facility.
November 2018: New York, US
Celebrating in Central Park, New York after completing my third marathon major in seven weeks and the last of five in 2018.
November 2018: Washington DC, US
Completing a 'bucket list' run. Running from Capitol Hill as the sun sets, along the Mall toward the Washington Monument, a quick glance at the White House before racing past the Reflecting Pool and up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. A run to remember.
With huge thanks to all those who have kindly given up their time and expertise to provide advice or access to their organisation and to the lovely people who have generously given me a bed/hot meal for the night (or week/month!) along the way. Also, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who sent messages of support from afar - there were certainly a few bumps along the way and those conversations helped more than you will know.
In the meantime, the journey continues...