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Kilimanjaro marathon & climb in support of a great cause

  • On the Roof of Africa!     9 March 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    Second and final challenge completed!

    I reached the top of Mt Kilimanjaro (the 'Roof of Africa') at 8:25am local time on the 7th of March (yesterday).

    Without any real opportunity to acclimatise to the altitude the final push to the top was very gruelling over the first few hours (we set off at midnight), but I felt very good the remaining 2/3rds of the climb to the top.

    Just back in Mosh at hotel after a final 19km day. I'm on safari now, so more soon...

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  • Marathon done, now the climb     4 March 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    The second part of my challenge, the climb up Mt Kilimanjaro, starts this morning.

    The group I'm with (you can't climb it solo) had a briefing with the head guide yesterday evening.

    We'll be doing the Marangu route, otherwise known as the Coca Cola route (on account of it being 'easier' because it is the only route with huts). We're doing it in a challenging 5 days, which doesn't allow for much acclimatisation at all. Going slowly and staying hydrated is key. Some of us also plan to hike past the huts to gain more elevation before coming back down to the sleeping elevation.

    I'll be offline for 5 or so days while climbing the mountain, so have attached a route map showing the different stops to give you an idea of what I'll be doing.

    Day 1: Marangu gate (park entrance) to Mandara huts at 2743m. This first day the route goes through a rainforest zone.

    Day 2: From Mandara huts the route continues through the rainforest initially and into a moorland zone at about 3000m. The next night's stop at Horombo hut is at 3720m.

    Day 3: The route takes us over the Kilimanjaro

    Saddle, between Kibo and Mwenzi peaks, and into the alpine desert zone. Kibo hut, from where we'll summit, is at 4703m.

    Day 4 (summit day): We start climbing to the summit at midnight because the scree slope up to Gillman's Point is best negotiated when frozen. From there we continue on to Uhuru Peak, the 'roof of Africa' at 5,895m. Needless to say it will be very cold and it'll be a short and sweet stay at the top to relish our achievement. We then descend back to Horombo huts.

    Day 5: Back to Moshi.

    The next update should hopefully let you know that I've successfully completed the climb to the top and back.

    Please continue to share the link to my give a little page in the meantime :). Much appreciated.

    Catch you soon!

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  • Marathon success!      4 March 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    I've just completed my first marathon... and half the challenge is now done!

    Crossing the finish line brought on feelings of both elation and a tremendous relief that it was over! It was certainly as tough as expected, but absolutely worth all the effort I put into it.

    The first half of the race was mostly flat and relatively comfortable to run, but the second half began with an 8km uphill grind, then undulated a bit before descending back to the stadium finish/start line.

    I ran 99% of the first 21km and then ran/walked the final 21km, which the majority of people around me also sensibly did. It was starting to get hot at this stage and faltering runners were picked up by the roaming ambulance with some regularity.

    I'm happy enough with the time I got,

    all things considered, and completed the marathon in an estimated time of around 5:22:55 based on what the Endomondo app tracked. Unfortunately, it looks like the chip on my race bib malfunctioned (based on the results that have provisionally come through online).

    As best I can tell, I placed 341st, was the 287th male home, and placed 27th in my age group. It is unclear how many people started. The announcer stated 750, I had heard 500 from others, and looking online there were 433 starters, but... I wasn't able to find my result online, so wonder whether others whose chips also malfunctioned weren't shown as having started either.

    I'm now at my new lodging and was just sitting out on the balcony (this accommodation is somewhat more salubrious) icing my calves in preparation for tomorrow's first day hike up Mr Kilimanjaro. It's just started to rain heavily and now there's thunder and lightning - the monsoon season has arrived!

    I'm tired and sore (as you'd expect), but suspect I'll sleep well tonight with aircon, which I didn't have where I was staying during the lead up to the marathon.

    There is a meeting at 6pm with the guides to discuss the trip ahead. Looks like I might need to enquire about an extra dry bag - just in case!

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  • Rest and prep day     2 March 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    Today is all about taking taking it easy before the marathon tomorrow and prepping/packing for the climb up Mr Kilimanjaro the day after.

    I'm doing lots of stretching and rolling out (see photo), as well as the strengthening exercises I've been doing over the last few months especially.

    The photo is of my humble abode. Marathon gear on the left and Mt Kilimanjaro gear on the right.

    The next update should hopefully be after successfully finishing the marathon. Fingers crossed!

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  • Run along part of the marathon route     2 March 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    This morning's final run before the marathon gave me a chance to get a somewhat used to the terrain and conditions I'll encounter.

    I chose part of the uphill section near the stadium where the marathon starts. The route heads into Moshi initially before coming past the stadium for the uphill bit. I did it at a time of the day I'll likely be running that section (around 10am).

    It was already hot and the traffic (which won't be an issue on marathon day) made it more dangerous than it should have been. There are no sidewalks to speak of and the road is the best running surface. I ran 5km up, initially comfortably, but feeling the heat especially towards the end. The downhill part was easier, but not by as much as I'd hoped. It's certainly going to be tough on the day.

    It is somewhat surreal running with Mt Kilimanjaro as the backdrop. The local runners were just starting their training run up as I was coming down, most of them looking much more comfortable than me.

    The photo was taken on the marathon finish line which they are busy constructing. Mt Kilimanjaro is in the background.

    Now it's resting time and prepping for the big run the day after tomorrow and the climb after.

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  • Moshi - first impressions     2 March 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    I absolutely loved my time in Africa when I was here 25 years ago travelling through Zimbabwe and South Africa for 6 weeks.

    This trip is also already shaping up to be a memorable one even though the initial focus is on the marathon rather than sightseeing.

    Arriving yesterday after 2 days of travel meant I was struggling to stay awake for dinner, but I slept well throughout the night despite the jetlag.

    Most everybody here is friendly and helpful, although as the manager of the nearby bank kindly pointed out when I asked whether he knew if this was a tourist office in town, '....this is a bank where you can do financial transactions. We have no tourist information here'. I'll Google it now that I'm online.

    As expected, some of the infrastructure here is different from home. WiFi/internet isn't available nearly as widely (I'm actually quite enjoying being disconnected for most of the day). There are few sidewalks, and street lights are scarce, which resulted in a hairy walk home as it was getting dark yesterday after it took longer than expected to find working internet. The traffic is relentless and the 'track' next to the road treachorous, especially in the dark.

    There is a bit of pollution to contend with from the traffic and rubbish fires, and this was especially noticeable on my run this morning (see next post). It's also hot (34 degrees at 3pm).

    Where I'm staying is fairly rustic, but it's quiet and the food is good. It's near the start of the marathon and although I'm the only one staying there at the moment, it's booked out over the next few days for the event.

    Fingers crossed I can stay healthy over the next few days and complete the marathon ad planned. The niggles I've got are holding up for moment at least.

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  • Made it to Tanzania!     1 March 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    Arrived in Moshi a few hours ago. Found my accommodation, picked up my marathon number and t-shirt, and then took ages to find WiFi to send this.

    It's hot, I'm tired and hangry, but I'm here!

    The photo is of the northern side of Mt Kilimanjaro.

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  • Transit in Doha     28 February 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    Found myself a quiet spot in the airport for a bit of sleep before my flight to Tanzania. Although the gym and swimming pool were a bit too pricey to justify a visit, I did get in over 10,000 steps walking around the huge airport here and won a penalty shootout (Qatar hosts the next Fifa World Cup in 2022).

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  • 3/4 of the way there...     28 February 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    Just about to land in Doha, on my longest birthday yet (34 or so hours flying West). I'll be there for 9 hours and then fly for another 6 hours to Kilimanjaro Airport.

    I've been stretching and rolling out on the plane as much as possible, always with an audience :).

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  • On my way!      27 February 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    I'm at Wellington airport just about to start the first leg of my journey to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania.

    Squeezed in a 5km run with a sharpish uphill this morning and then had my final physio session. My calves and left hip are sore from both the run and dry needling, but I'm all strapped up and ready to go (I think).

    First stop Auckland, then Doha, and finally Kilimanjaro Airport. It's happening!

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  • A more comfortable run     25 February 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    My morning run today was considerably more comfortable than my run from a few days ago.

    Now I just need my leg to hold up 8.5 or so times the distance I ran today!

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  • South Wairarapa birthday weekend     25 February 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    This past weekend was spent in the Wairarapa for birthday celebrations.

    The anticipated bad weather stayed away long enough to allow for a full day of activities on Saturday, including an outdoor feast.

    Judging by the antics and laughter that ensued, everybody had a great time. There may have been some excessive eating and drinking.

    Thanks to the crew for making the weekend such a fun event. Much appreciated!

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  • River run     21 February 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    I've just completed a short run beside a very picturesque section of the Waikato River in Hamilton today. It wasn't a comfortable run by any stretch of the imagination, with my left leg still feeling niggly and sore. Icing and rolling out my calf after my run is helping.

    I'll keep doing my leg strengthening exercises and hopefully my next run on Sunday is more comfortable.

    10 days until the marathon!

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  • Niggles     19 February 2019
    Posted by: Peter Hiemstra
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    The marathon is only a few weeks away now and I only have a handful of shorter runs to get in before the big day on the 3rd of March.

    Training over the last 5 or so months hasn't been problem free unfortunately, with my left leg causing me the most problems. I overcame a strained glute only to strain my achilles tendon soon after. This injury is proving troublesome and has flared up a few times.

    The physio has been great and I've managed to get up to completing a few 21km runs during my training despite the issues. Longer distances would obviously have been better, but my baseline is at least reasonable. I cycle about 6km uphill every weekday to keep up my cardio in between runs, as well as doing HIIT sessions, hitting the gym and practicing yoga.

    Fingers crossed I'll be running the full distance, but I'm prepared to run/walk if I have to. Whatever gets me across the line!

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