We spent this past long weekend at the foot of Africa's highest peak (the picture above taken outside the gate of the lodge we stayed at). Kristoffer has been training since the fall for his first marathon, which happened yesterday!
First we had a 9 hour drive to get from Dar es Salaam to Moshi. That was really fun! [feel my sarcasm]. Our saving Grace of this drive, and actually many parts of the weekend, was that we brought our nanny, Oliver, with us for the first time. (Note that we tried this once before with Rose in Kenya...that was 4 years ago and resulted in Noah being hospitalized for 5 days after becoming sick with a horrible infection. Haven't tried it again until now!) She was able to help out with the kids in the car a lot - particularly a teething, fussy Aya who does not enjoy being strapped down.
Noah started to become sick on our drive. Almost as soon as we got there we realized he was getting a high fever, and because Grace had been sick with a bacterial infection earlier in the week, we also decided that we needed him to be on antibiotics ASAP. So Kristoffer visited a "duka la dawa" (pharmacy) to find the medicine I thought he needed. Note that I am not a doctor - I know that! - but our kids get infections here so often that I am rarely wrong in my diagnosis. Because we started him off on Friday night, he was feeling much better the next day and especially by Sunday didn't seem sick anymore. Aya then spiked a fever on Saturday but we think that was teething related.
Our lodge had a great pool that the kids loved to swim in. It was also fun because lots of other marathon families were staying there and we made some new friends. It was not totally unstressful - dealing with fevers and children who are uncooperative eaters in new environemtns and trying to figure out our game plan for marathon day. But it was an adventure which we hadn't had in quite awhile. Again, thank goodness we brought Oliver because she was incredibly helpful as we tried to figure out logistics.
Our lodge had resident monkeys - as photographed by Grace, below...
But the reason for it all was to support our #1 guy!
We first spotted him (middle of this picture in white) at 6.5km.
Looking good, feeling great (and running at that stage with some friends!).
The "crowd" across the street from where we were standing.
They were actually not marathon watchers...just waiting for the bus.
Our motley crew...Noah, sitting down in a hoodie with a cap on top, eating junk food at 7:30 am.
Oliver and Aya waiting for Far. It was interesting to find out this was Oliver's first time watching a race and learning about what a marathon is. (Safe to say, she thinks marathon runners are nuts!)
Also, Gracie the flag bearer!
Here he comes again at 14.5k. Still doing really well...still running with some friends. He even popped over to our side of the road to pick up a banana and get some kisses!
It was very complicated for me to see him at other parts of the run...mostly because the second half was up and down the mountain, and I didn't really know how to get to those places. So I decided to go to the finish at the big stadium by myself...I had heard 2 years ago there was a riot and it would be very loud and hot and crowded. Grace and Noah were impatient enough when it was quiet and calm by the side of the road, I didn't know how they would deal with the finish line anxiety. So - again, yay for Oliver! - I left the kids to play at the lodge and went to wait for Kristoffer at the end.
He was on track for a 4:30 marathon - just as he trained for! - but after 10km climbing up the mountain, the run down was incredibly steep and much harder than he thought. We live at sea level, so there was really no way to train for that! He was feeling great until 38km but then was kind of done. He struggled to the end, but of course, he made it! Finished it 4:49...a little slower than he hoped for, but that mountain was really an unknown! And we are still psyched that he came in under 5 hours :)
Just before he got to the stadium...two photos taken by his colleague who ran the half marathon...
Sadly, I had a major camera fumble right when he arrived to finish. I got so excited cheering for him - crying! - that I didn't actually take anything but video and pictures of the ground. So sorry, honey! But here he was afterwards with our Danish friend Peter, an experienced marathoner, who had finished earlier and who has been a very supportive and helpful friend during Kristoffer's marathon training.
We hopped in a taxi on our way back to the lodge to great the kids who were dying to know if Far won the race!
Yes, he did, Noah! Far won the race! Woo hoo! We are so proud of him!
With a new friend who finished just shortly after Kristoffer...they had ran together quite a bit.
I have to say, marathons are super amazing to watch. I always get really emotional, even when it isn't my husband, but it was especially emotional after having watched him train and prepare for this. What a special marathon to be his first - here in our adopted part of the world, in an incredibly beautiful setting. But he picked a very difficult marathon for his first - Runner's World ranks it as one of the world's most beautiful marathons, but others call it an "extreme" marathon because of the length of the climb and the steepness the mountain. So - I am hoping Kristoffer will blog about it himself at some point! - it was unforgettable for so many reasons.
Other than Kristoffer completing it and being there to support him, another amazing moment came just before he finished. There was a very, very, very old mzee (old man) who ran the 1/2 marathon. I have been jokingly calling him the oldest man in Tanzania...that is probably not true, but he looked no younger than 95 years old for sure. He was almost completely hunched over as he ran. BUT HE FINISHED! When he entered the stadium towards the finish line, the seemingly distracted crowd becamse unified...standing and cheering wildly for the mzee. He had two escorts with him (I mean really, the whole thing seemed miraculous!) but he was actually running and crossed that finish line by himself. I had goosebumps all over my body - and it was REALLY hot out! Such a beautiful sight to behold...the human spirit! I am grateful that I got to see that moment too.
Congratulations to our Kristoffer! Godt gået! Tillykke! Hongera sana!
We love you!