One of the joys and frustrations of life in Senegal is that things are often flexible. You bargain for your taxi, so the price may not always be the same. Your clothes are made by hand, so the fit varies a bit. And the vendor’s idea of a ‘big’ chicken is pretty open to interpretation. (Squawk!)

Neighborhood running buddies
Neighborhood running buddies

So it should come as no surprise to runners in today’s Dakar Marathon races that the 5K route was actually closer to 6.2 kilometers and the 10K route was about 11.5 kilometers. However, it appears and the 21K (half-marathon) was actually 20.9 kilometers. Nicely done.

See Em A! See Em A!
See Em A! See Em A!

My friend Joanna pointed out that the current format closely resembles the challenge races that are so popular in the US right now. Dodge the goat! Jump over the sewage water! Up on the sidewalk, down on the road, up on the sidewalk, down on the road! BUS!!!

The 2K Kids' Race started first. Then all the 5-10-21K runners started together. Kinda crazy, but fun!
The 2K Kids’ Race started first. Then all the 5-10-21K runners started together. Kinda crazy, but fun!

I get it. Mapping out routes in the middle of downtown Dakar must be a nightmare, and we really do appreciate the hard work of all those who pulled this event together.

At the start. Just chillin’. (Yeah, right.)

Just a little brainstorming for next year though…

There’s this lovely road called the Corniche that follows the coast. From Rebeus to the monument is 10 kilometers. Then from the monument down to Almadies and back is another 10. Sure, you’re starting at a prison and ending at the the most controversial and loathed site of Dakar, but in exchange you’re getting open roads without giant potholes, big car raapides with their exhaust or honking taxis. And did I mention the ocean view and breezes? Lovely.

At the finish with Julie!
At the finish with Julie!

Things to remember for next year’s race:

– Register online and if possible, pick up your t-shirt and number the day before.

– Check your email. The route and convocation time may change!

– It’s hot in May. Especially at 4pm.

– Bring small coins for buying water bags. (Bonus points to the kids selling the frozen ones.)

– Sunblock. And maybe sunglasses.

– If you were able to pick up your stuff the previous day, show up at the announced race start time. You may still wait in the sun for up to half an hour, but hey… that’s part of the experience, right?

Kimberley, my finish-line friend!