Half Marathon Part I

On Sunday I ran in the Accra half marathon. I had never ran in an organized race before, so I thought, why not try one in Ghana? Going into the race I knew it would be hot, unorganized, and probably dangerous. Combine that with my lack of proper training and I was a little nervous before the race. I have found marathons to be difficult to train for in Ghana for a number of reasons.

  • You never know when you are going to get sick. Whether it’s diarrhea or a cold, getting sick is a more common and capricious occurrence in Ghana than America.
  • It’s HOT. If you don’t start your run before 6am, you’re screwed and have to wait until tomorrow to run.
  • I never knew exactly how far I was running when training. Even if the Internet were faster here, I can’t quite find my village on Google Maps to calculate my running distances. However, one day I was lucky enough to be in a taxi with a working odometer so I could peak at it and measure my running distances based on how far the taxi drove.
  • It’s difficult to train by yourself. Most people in my village don’t know what a marathon is, so clearly I’ve been training by myself for the most part. However, a few months ago the schools in my village had a sports competition with schools in neighboring communities so I was able to train with some junior high students. Although, I was a bit demoralized when the students were running in “shower sandals” and still beating me. (As a side note, it was pretty amazing/frightening watching the students do the high jump without a landing pad during the competition.)
  • Running is not that common here. People think it’s bizarre to run to a place for no particular purpose other than exercise. It seems everyone gets their exercise from working and/or farming.

Although I had all of these challenges going into the half marathon, nobody likes excuses so I wasn’t about to drop out of the race. Plus there are some advantages to training for a half marathon in Ghana. One is that I feel like I’ve been “carb loading” for the past eight months with the food being so carbohydrate heavy. In the end I didn’t train as much as I wanted to, but I was able to run an average of three times a week with my longest run being roughly eight miles. Not quite 13.1, but I was hoping adrenaline would kick in during race day.


About Ryan

I'm serving in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer for 27 months. View all posts by Ryan

One response to “Half Marathon Part I

  • Edna kerr

    Hi Ryan.Your Grandmother has been sharing your Blogs with me .It’s so interesting to hear about your experiences there in Ghana.
    I enjoyed hearing about the strange food and also about your participating in a marathon.
    During my third year at College I had Room & Board with a lady whose relatives were missionaries in Accra. Once when they came back home to Belfast they shared about some of their different experiences there and it all sounded very exotic to me as a naive litle Irish country girl.
    Keep up the good work Ryan.

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