|Posted by Breanna Cornell on February 12, 2013 at 9:45 PM||comments (0)|
As impossible2Possitlbe Youth Ambassador Alumni, we try to represent the organization for it's ideals: educating, inspiring, and empowering. Often times, though, this is not just restricted to being an i2P Youth Ambassador or runner– it's about being a decent person.
Below is what all i2P Youth Ambassadors strive to be, as students, as runners, as people. It's a code of conduct that shouldn't be just limited to i2P Y.A., but one we should all keep in mind in life.
that your actions and the way your express yourself reflects not only who you are, but the people around you, who you are connected with, and organizations that you are a part of.
yourself and others by practicing tolerance and acceptance of all people, cultures, environments, and beliefs. Have an open mind, spirit, and heart.
positive behavior in your day-to-day life, including, but not limited to, our physical interactions and those that we have through social media. The world is a mirror, and will reflect whatever energy you pass on it; being positive not only spreads positivity, but will bring it back to you.
your family, your teammates, your friends, anyone who needs it, by encouraging to practice these values every day.
"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." – Buddha
Light some candels, guys.
Best of Wishes,
|Posted by Breanna Cornell on December 22, 2012 at 7:50 PM||comments (1)|
Your question might be answered in the day-by-day recall:
What was Botswana like?
Flat. Very flat. With a lot of sand and shrubbery. The huge baobab tress were amazing, as were the sun rises and run sets, the salt flats were impressive, but the landscape didn't take my breath away like the rockies or the woods do. It was the animals and the people in Botswana that really make the country worth visiting. Everyone is friendly and very respectful. The animals are incredible.
How hot did it get?
HOT! When we were on the salt pans it was at least 100ºƒ (~ 40ºC).
Did it rain at all?
It rained once, on our second day, our first night camping. We weren't quite in the desert yet, but driving to it, and drove through a rain storm. It was pretty dramatic looking.
What animals did you see?
Lots! Most we saw once we were in the reserve on safari the last two days, but we saw an ostrich, spring buck, centipedes, camel spiders, scorpions, a spitting cobra, cows, goats, dogs, a wild dog (road kill), a lot of birds (horn bills, crows, buzzards), donkeys, a type of antelope, and a lot of lion tracks. Once we neared the safari and northern Botswana, away from the salt flats, the animals became more frequent. Around this area and on safari we saw hippos, a lioness, elephants, giraffes , zebras, impalas, warthogs, kudu, antelope, water buffalo, alligators, monkeys, a centipede, a gray heron, and I'm probably forgetting some. While we didn't see any hyenas, they came through our camp and got into our trash and what not.
What shoes did you wear?
I wore New Balance 110s for the first three days of running. The last day my feet felt bruised, so I changed over to the slightly more cushy Saucony Kinvara 2s. Kathy, one of our support runners, wore the Saucony Kinvara 3s. There was one point where an akesia thorn penetrated the bottom of her shoe and insole– all the way to her toe! In this way the NB110s were good because they have a hard plate in them. Ferg rocked some Hokas.
What pace did you run?
It varied. Because we were running a long distance for multiple days, we wanted to set an easy pace– it's an expedition, not a race. There were points where we were running faster than a 10 min/mile, and a point where I was at a crawl at 4 km/hour (24 min/mile – OUCH). We were usually between 6 km/hour (16 min/mile) and 10 km/hour (10 min/mile). To quote Ferg: "Start slow, then slow down."
How much water did you drink?
On the days I was not running, I drank about the same amount of water I drink in Michigan– about 2 liters a day. During the days I was running, I was drinking around 8 liters. I know Nansen drank about 9 liters one day– that's a lot of fluid!
Did you shower?
Nope. We cleaned up with wet-wipes in the evening. Our only showers included 1. the first night at the hotel (there due to lost baggage), 2. the night we stayed at the campground the last day of running (due to the wild fire), and 3. our last day in Botswana where we stayed at a hotel the night before departure.
Where did you go to the bathroom?
Behind a bush. Or, like when we were on the salt flats where there are no bushes for miles, behind the truck. People respected everyone's privacy. And then at the end of the trip we just didn't care who might glimpse us taking a squat.
Where did you sleep?
In a tent. In a sleeping bag. On the ground. Yeah, it was camping almost every night, except for our one night in the hotel the first evening and the one night in the hotel the night before leaving Botswana. Let it be noted: I like camping
Did anyone get injured?
Marie and Saskia had some wicked blisters, and everyone from the first group got slashed up pretty good from running through the brambles. Hannah struggled with the heat and Gill was pretty nauseous from the malaria pills, but no one really got hurt (thank god!). Everyone dealt with the aches and pains that comes from running 50 km in the desert, but the sore muscles, blisters, sun burn and chafing was all expected.
What did you eat?
For breakfast oatmeal and toast. For lunch, usually a sandwich with an apple. For dinner, soup and bread, some sort of starch (potatoes, squash, rice), and steamed veggies (carrots, squash), followed by desert (which varied from cake to bread pudding to fruit cups, or sometimes none at all). While running we ate chips, salted peanuts and raisins, nut-butters, and a lot of cookies. To drink, there was coffee and gatorade. I refrained from both– picky on the coffee and gatorade makes me sick.
What was your favorite part?
The people! I loved everyone on our expedition team and miss them already. Everyone we met in the villages and our guides were friendly and helpful. The people really made this trip worth it. Everyone had such inspiring stories, or some bit of knowledge to share; not only were they willing to share it, but they were happy to sit and hear your shpeal as well. I also loved how honest everyone was with each other– it made the personal connections real.
What was your least favorite part?
Probably packing up every morning. It's not that I minded the work (I didn't) but I was always afraid I'd leave something important behind, something might have fallen out of my bag, like… I dunno… my passport? That would be bad. It was a small worry, but made this aspect my least favorite.
What was the toughest part?
In all honesty, trying not to let my anxiety get the better of me. I stressed. Kathy and Adriana were awesome at helping me work through some of my anxiety. Thanks, girls!
What were the classroom calls like?
Very cool! We weren't able to see the classrooms, but they could see us. They would type their questions and they would pop up on our screen. We'd then answer their questions, taking turns. It was really great to see how many schools joined in. A huge thanks to all of those students who participated!
Did you see any watering holes?
One, and it wasn't really a watering hole– more like a mud pit. Shallow and brown, cows stood around it and kind of glared at us as we ran by. The only real watering holes we saw were in the reserve. Still, they weren't as bit as I had imagined them, although they were much bigger than the mud pit. These ones were surrounded by grass and filled with hippos and alligators, while the water itself was still mercy.
How far did you run?
Group 1: Nansen, Saskia, Hope & Marie
Day 1 - 43.3 km
Day 2 - 45.3 km
Day 3 - 43.3 km
Day 4 - 51 km
Total: 182.9 km (113.6 miles)
Group 2: Gill, Hannah & Brea
Day 1 - 48.05 km
Day 2 - 42.6 km
Day 3 - 44.01km
Day 4 - 50 km
Total: 184.66 km (114.7 miles)
Note: Day 4 for the first group and Day 1 of the second group are the same day.
We averaged just over 45.9 km (28.5 miles) per day.
Total: 317.56 km (197.3 miles)
Experience a bit of Botswana in i2P's
Have a question that I didn't answer?
Go ahead and ask! I'll post the answer here, and let you know when I do.
Ask via comments below, or tweet me @love2Bre
A HUGE thanks to everyone who has followed the expedition!
Again, another shout out to all of our sponsors, to the expedition team, Mosu Safaris, and all the Youth Ambassadors. Everyone was amazing! I miss everyone already, but know that they're off on other adventures doing amazing things!
Do what you love, love what you do.
Peace out, guys
|Posted by Breanna Cornell on December 22, 2012 at 7:25 PM||comments (0)|
If you missed it, read these:
The running was done.
We woke the morning following the final day of the expedition, having slept through a wind storm at a camp ground. We took our time that morning to eat breakfast and pack up. Today was the day we were going to go on safari! Despite having run across most of Botswana, we hadn't seen much in the way of wildlife that you might expect to see in wild Africa– a lot of spring buck, cows and goats, but we had yet to see a zebra or giraffe. We had run by evidence of lions (tracks by camp) and elephants (poop and upturned trees) but we hadn't spotted any hidden in the bushes of the landscape. Everyone was excited to finally see some Lion-King wildlife.
Note: Photo credits for this blog post go to Nansen & Gill.
Tents packed, sleeping bags rolled and stuffed, we clambered back into the jeeps. My legs were content to be still today, although I wasn't sore. It wasn't a very enjoyable ride, though. As soon as we left the main road, we turned onto a dirt one. Like most of the roads we had come across in Botswana, this one was rutted and sandy. It made for a very jostling ride. A very uncomfortable ride. The temperature rose with the sun in the sky. Honestly, I hated those jeeps. Part of me was excited to see animals, and the other part just wanted to be done– sitting in those jeeps didn't feel worth it.
We're on the road again...
We reached the entrance to the Okavango Delta Reserve after about 3 hours of "jeep jostle." Presenting our passports and camping permit, we were permitted entrance to the park. As soon as we entered, we began to see more animals with a greater diversity than we had the whole trip. Look! There were a group of elephants! And here, some giraffes! Over there, in the distance! Can you see it? That's a Kudu.
She was posing for us.
Comic and Comrade were excellent guides, telling us all about the animals that we passed. Nansen had his camera at the ready, poised to take the perfect shot. Ray was ecstatic to see hippos, which were lounging in the watering holes, heads barely above the water surface. This was more what I had pictured Africa to be like; watering holes, green safari grass that would open in plains and give way to a grove of trees, animals' heads bobbing through the foliage.
We saw many animals, of which included:
Ostrich, spring buck, a lot of birds, antelope, kudu, hippos, elephants, giraffes, zebras, water buffalo, warthogs, and alligators. Impalas were the most common animal spotted. Everyone seemed to have a favorite. As we drove along, we spotted a lone lioness, who appeared older, with some scars running across her back. We followed her for a bit, everyone snapping pictures as she posed majestically upon a rock. A herd of elephants strolled past our vehicles, a baby chasing its mother. The baby elephant's trunk and tail were truncated (no pun intended ;D ), Comic suggesting that it had perhaps been attacked by a lion. He said that once it stopped feeding on its mother's milk, it would have a hard time surviving.
That's the baby elephant.
Camp was made off the two-track sand road, next to a hippo trail (a beaten down grass path that hippos traversed at night to travel between watering holes), adjacent to a herd of water buffalo. Tents pitched, we decided to go back out on the jeeps to see if we could spot any more animals before sunset and dinner.
Water buffalo by camp.
We weren't back out for long before we spotted the same lioness from earlier that day. She was focused, and completely ignored our vehicles. Her muscles tense, her gaze looking past the tourists, across the earth to a mother impala nursing her newborn. She was hunting. We weren't ten feet from the lioness when she made her move. It was over in a matter of seconds. A cloud of dirt, the snap of a branch, the mother impala sprinting away. As the dust cleared, the lioness emerged, the baby impala clenched in her mouth. She sat down and devoured her snack in a matter of a half hour.
Baby impala being eaten.
We watched the whole thing.
Coolest part of safari right there.
Returning to camp, we had our last dinner that would be cooked over the fire for our trip. We savored it. We were warned not to leave our tents in the middle of the night, and not to keep any food in our tents. If we had to use the bathroom, literally just squat outside the tent. Why? Hyenas. Lions. Hippos. All the nocturnal animals. The warnings weren't without significance; upon waking in the morning, our trash had been revenged by hyenas, their tracks scurrying through camps. I guess some people heard the commotion, but I slept through it. Like I slept through the dust storm. Yeah, I'm a deep sleeper.
It was our last day in Botswana.
I couldn't believe that we would be headed in our separate directions the following day as we climbed back onto the jeeps to fill our morning with one last drive through the reserve. We didn't see anything nearly as cool as the previous day, and I was ready to be off the jeeps. Safari was cool overall, but I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I not been tired from the whole trip. It kind of felt like I was at a zoo instead of really on safari. I found the other vehicles and tourists we passed somewhat more interesting than the animals– some people were all decked out in safari gear and telephoto lenses, camo and jungle hats. It was funny.
Zeeba eeta eeta (Pearls Before Swine reference...)
After having spent the morning on safari, we drove into Maun, where we checked into a hotel. We spent the afternoon enjoying the swimming pool and organizing our bags for our flights home the following morning. We were able to go shopping for souvenirs. I wanted to get something authentic for my parents. I met and spoke with a local artist selling his paintings on the side of the road. I ended up buying a painting of some zebra on canvas. Easy to roll up and transport, something customs wouldn't be upset with, like a carved knife or animal pelt. I should have brought more money with me (there was so much cool stuff), but I hadn't come with that much cash– not that I have much to spend. I left Botswana with about 13¢ left to my name. I was happy, though.
After a restful nights sleep in actual beds, we gathered at the Maun airport to fly into Johannesburg. Our last trip together. In Johannesburg, our flights left one by one. Sooner than I knew it, I was walking out of the baggage claim and into my mother's embrace, who had come to retrieve me from the airport. The day and a half in-flight had passed in a blur of layovers, stuffy pressurized air, and in-flight movies. The bustle of the airport terminals and luxury of the economy class seating made Botswana feel like a dream. Returning home to spend Thanksgiving with my family hardly gave enough time for me to absorb the experience. The only evidence that I had gone were tan lines and three weeks of missed school work to make up.
And now, Botswana feels more real than the present, the current moment a dream. The realities flip back and forth, the life of a student and the life as a team-member, painting a stark contrast as the snow does against the desert landscape in my mind. Mistakes, I made many. Experiences, countless were gained. Laughter and fun was shared, along with some tears and sweat. And all of it made me grow, as a student, as an educator, as a runner, and as a person. I love the people I met, whom I will forever consider some of my closest friends.
Botswana was an experience of a lifetime I shall never forget.
Still have questions? They might be answered in:
|Posted by Breanna Cornell on December 16, 2012 at 8:00 PM||comments (0)|
BOTSWANA: Part 5
If you missed it, read these first:
Third Day Running
Today was, by far, the toughest day for myself.
Hannah was still recovering, but well enough to walk. She was planning on walking as far as she could that day. Gill and I set off from Kubu Island, earlier than we had on the previous days. Knowing how treacherous the sun becomes in the afternoon, we were trying to get as much running in before lunch as possible. We held a unhurried pace, slow but steady. We were about 4 kilometers in when Gill stopped, bent double, and puked. She had mentioned that she felt a bit queazy before, and when she stopped heaving, we continued running. Gill was very composed.
No one is safe from the cameras– especially when you're throwing up.
Gill, you're BA, girl.
As we continued, though, Gill stopped and threw up, again. Something wasn't right. She tried to push through it, but Doctor Christina noted that throwing up liquids and having a hard time keeping them down just spells disaster in the environment in which we were running. We had a suspicion that both Gill and Hannah were feeling the ill side effects from the malaria pills they had been prescribed. Everyone had started taking their malaria medication about a day ago, where we became two days away from entering the malaria zone. The onset of nausea for Gill and Hannah coincided with beginning to take the medication, where an upset stomach is a well known, common side effect. Gill climbed onto the support vehicle to go join Hannah and Kathy in walking for the day.
I continued running.
It felt phenomenal to run. And I don't mean the speed walking pace I had been holding before, but RUN. I reminded myself to hold a pace, though, and targeted a 10 min/mile. It felt good. It felt right. I set a goal to cover marathon distance (42.2 km, 26.2 miles) before lunch.
I didn't want to stop, not at the support vehicle, not for anything. I ran into the support stops, handed off my water bladder to be filled up, grabbed something salty, and continued walking while my water bladder was being filled. The support vehicle would drive up, pass back the hydration pack topped off at 2 liters, and I would tell them to drive another 5 km – I was on a roll!
It was nearing lunch. The sun was climbing higher in the sky. The air coming off the earth was hotter than the surrounding air, the wind blowing it in mine and Ferg's face. I ignored it. Just as I began to ignore the pain in my legs. It was soon, though, that the pain became difficult to ignore. I slowed, reminding myself it was okay to also incorporate walking breaks. The pain was a familiar one: lactic acid. Each stride felt like the beginning of a cramp, and each step the strain of muscle fibers…
Started to pass a lot of these ranches.
We stopped early for lunch in the shade of a huge baobab tree, in the back yard of a farmer's ranch. It was the largest baobab we had seen yet. While it was not yet 1 PM, our usual lunch time, we had decided to take lunch early. I hadn't reached the 42.2 km mark, but I was close at 35 km (if I remember correctly). I was so thankful to sit. My legs were really aching, although I didn't want to admit it. After eating, I lied down for a nap, but Christina approached me. Inquiring how I was doing, she asked about my legs and if I had used the bathroom yet.
I hadn't used the bathroom since that morning.
My legs felt like they had a lot of lactic acid build up.
Doc Christina nodded solemnly. "Well, I need you to use the bathroom before you can go run again this afternoon."
WHAT? I understood perfectly, and I had been drinking a LOT of water, but I didn't want to get pulled from running like Hannah and Gill. I HAD to run– one of our team HAD to. Ray came up, joining Christina and I. He explained that the lactic acid feeling I was getting in my legs was an indication of poor kidney function, as well as the dehydration. Something that could land you in a hospital. Something they weren't going to risk. And neither was I, spoke my rationality. Let's chug some water, exclaimed my pride.
We kept running by upside-down trees. Elephants dig them up to get at the roots.
Ray gave me coffee. Christina gave me Gatorade. I drank both. It was gross. Laying in the shade for an hour, sipping water, electrolytes, and caffeine, I finally went and used the bathroom. Taking this as a good sign, Christina allowed me to ready myself to continue running, giving warning that she reserved the right to pull me should alarms be set off. I nodded, grabbed my hydration pack, and set back out with Ferg. My legs felt renewed. I was running the pace I had set for the morning. It was a merical!
And it lasted all of about 3 km.
It was ungodly hot. My pace slowed. The lactic acid had returned. Why was this so hard? It shouldn't be this hard! I wasn't even at marathon distance yet! I've run plenty of marathons, without problems like this… I've run a multiple day ultra, much farther in distance, and didn't have problems like this before… what was going on?
Make it to the marathon.
Make it to the marathon.
Make it to 42.2 km.
I wanted at least the marathon distance.
I vented to Ferg. I was embarrassed. I was frustrated. I can do this, I know I can!
The tears came. Silent. I choked them back. I was reaching a wall, I was in the wall, the wall was a well, and I was drowning in its depths in the middle of this desolate, dry, desert. I wasn't sure if I was crying from pain, the lactic acid, or the feeling that I was drowning in emotion.
Yeah, I'm crying. What of it?
I cannot explain this emotional breakdown.
You just have to run. Until you hit that ocean.
Then you'll understand.
I've encountered this ocean once before, in my Run2Tech. It was what had pretty much ended the run, short of its goal. Despite all of my logical reasoning, that I was injured, that I didn't want to get injured more, that I had to be strong for the rowing season, the true reason I broke down in the Run2Tech was because I hit this ocean that I did not know how to cross. I had stopped that last time, and it felt more like a failure than a learning experience, and I regretted stopping after making the decision. I wasn't going to stop this time. I was going to learn from that experience, and apply it. So how do you push through this emotional barrier?
You keep running.
Until the ocean runs dry.
You run. You don't think about it.
You just go.
And that's very nice to say, but it isn't easy. Not one damn bit. But I kept running, trying to hold it together, but when Ferg announced the 42.2 km mark, I lost it. I let out a cry, and just let myself sit. I sobbed and wailed. It was really attractive. Bob had been just over the hill with Gill and Hannah– we had just passed them walking– and he heard, and bolted up to Ferg and I, under the impression that something was wrong. Oh Bob, he is such a dad. Seeing I was alright and just emotionally distraught, he somehow managed to calm and comfort me.
This is Bob. Bob is awesome. Thank you for your awesomeness, Bob.
I got back up. For some reason, reaching the marathon mark in my mind broke the web I had woven to hold myself together. The pain flooded in. Physical and emotional. I tried to run, but it was so slow. Walking was faster. I joined up with Gill and Hannah, not really walking with them, not really walking alone, stuck in my mind, sorting the discomfort. I stopped at 44 km. Gill and Hannah had been able to walk about 20 km that day.
Check out those salt pans...
It was a tough day for all of us, made tougher by the fact that we couldn't find camp. By this point in our running, we have moved adjacent to the salt flats, onto sandy roads that wandered between ranches and villages, through forests of twig-like trees. The sand would be deep then shallow, rutted then packed. The roads would split and come back together. Our vehicles– the support jeep, education jeep, and safari jeep that transported camp– all became separated in the second part of the day. The safari jeep had wandered off to make camp. We drove around, in search of our tents, of dinner, of rest, only to end up back by the baobab tree where we had lunched. The road had split at this point, and we had, apparently, been running the wrong way. Camp was down this road, a nice drive.
I have never been so happy to spend an evening sitting in my life.
Last day running.
It was agreed that we would stick together as a team for our last day. Gill, Hannah, and I set out. Gill and Hannah were both feeling much better, although they still didn't feel 100%. I felt like total crap, but I tried not to mention it to anyone. My feet really hurt. I didn't really have any visible blisters or toe nails hanging off, but the bottoms of my feet just felt bruised. I had switched from my New Balance 110s to my Saucony Kinvara 2s for today, as they were softer, despite the holes they have in the webbing going across the toes. It just made it easier to shake the sand out.
Gill, Hannah, and I.
I ended up power walking much of the first part of the day. Gill and Hannah were setting a pace that was comfortable for them, that they could hold so that we could cover the full 50 km. That was perfect! I just couldn't run that pace– it was more painful for me to go at that pace than it was to walk. If I wanted to last the day, I had to walk. We were traveling at about 6-7 km/hour. I was wearing the Garmin watch, and it was my job to keep the pace below 7 km/hour. Going over or pushing the pace too much would spell nausea for Gill, discomfort for Hannah, and the risk that I migh push too much too early in the day.
We actually came across our first watering hole. It was the first we had seen in all of our travels across the desert. It was shallow, brown and mercy, and surrounded by cows. More like a mud hole. It was hidden in the trees. The trees here had leaves that were actually green. We were leaving the desert. The twisting branches of the trees provided some shade, and a lot of noise. The trees housed insects that were deafening. There were sections of the "woods" where you couldn't hear the person next to you talking. It was crazy how loud these bugs were. There was little to no undergrowth in this area, just sand. At one point, as we ran away from a pit stop, the wind whipped up a cloud of sand around the support vehicle, creating an isolated tornado. Everyone on board let out a yell of surprise. It was something we should have caught on camera, but didn't
The day felt like it was never going to end. It got hot, but wasn't as bad as previous days. We had the trees, and clouds rolled across the sky. I was thankful for this, and for Ferg, as he squirted water across the backs of our necks.
Despite the good fortune, I spent most of the day staring holes into the ground. I hated it. I wanted to stop. It was all a mental game at this point. My body kept moving, and my mind kept yelling "NO!" I set my body on auto pilot and let my mind curse everything out– because being angry made me feel better. Yeah.
So I spent the day being angry.
Until we hit about 10 km to go.
10 km? Is that all we have left? For some reason, I hadn't expected us to cover the full 50 km that day. I had been worried something would go wrong, but now that we were only 10 km from the finish, it seemed totally attainable and unreal simultaneously. We were nearing the end. The end of a long run. The end of the expedition. What did that mean? Excitement and sorrow pounded through my veins in unison.
Ray and the expedition team caught up to us at the next aid stop and told us that there was a village ahead. "We're going to run through the village, and film you running with the kids!" Ray exclaimed. Hope and Saskia jumped down from the support vehicle to join us.
The village emerged out of the trees, a clearing containing homes and a school adjacent to a soccer field. Children were walking in packs around the yard, while others playing soccer stopped their game to take notice of the visitors. I was excited, but felt kind of silly, as we approached the village– here we are, some random white kids running in the woods, with no words spoken, just run up and do a lap around the soccer field.
But the kids ran with us. Smiling and barefoot, skinny and small, they ran– and they ran fast! It was an adrenaline rush.
A small girl approached me, carrying a note book. "Pen?" She asked. Seeing her journal, I though maybe she'd like to write in it. Oh hey, I do have a pen, in the support vehicle. I stopped to reach in my bag, and give her my pen. Surrounded by children, I looked at her sternly, and noted "But you have to share!" She took the pen, without thanks, and seeing my watch ask: "Watch?" I smiled and shook my head no. "No, I'm sorry, I need this." Disgruntled, she stalked away.
As we finished our lap around the village, waving good-bye, I relayed this story to Hope. "No way!" she yelled. "She asked me for a pen too!"
"Did you give her one?"
"Wait, what?!?" Ferg joined in. "You guys gave her a pen? But I gave her one too!"
The little trickster had conned us out of three pens. We all laughed.
Hannah (different kid with a different pen). Thumbs up, dudes.
With 5 km to go, Nansen and Marie joined, as well as Ray and Bob, and more from the expedition team. All pain was gone. I was walking on sunshine. I could have PR'd that last 5 km. But we ran as a pack. At 1.5 km to go, the expedition team left the youth ambassadors and our support runners to go set up the finish line. Only a mile left.
We rounded each bend, expecting to see the i2P banner set up, only to find another stretch of empty sand. It was definitely more than a mile, and we all thought Gill was going to lose it at one point ("I'm going to lose my ***** if they aren't around this next bend!" [ love you Gill! ]), but we finally came across it.
We had made it!
Upon stopping, I felt like I was going to faint. I was dizzy. Gill lied down. Hannah cheered. Everyone celebrated.
50 kilometers. As a team. It was what we had come here to do. And we did it.
After photos, we clambered into the jeeps, ready to hit camp and eat some grub. We turned off the sandy road and onto a paved one, a luminesce in the distance. The orange glow wasn't from the setting sun– it had disappeared a while ago– but a wild fire. Arriving at camp, Ray and Bob were in a tizzy. We had to move camp, we couldn't camp here, not next to a fire! Given, it was a distance away, but there was the danger of it traveling in our direction. Dismayed and hungry, we left camp to let the safari crew pack up. We felt bad– Cookie had had dinner all prepared, and our stomachs had been all ready to eat it.
We drove to an official campground and pitched our tents there. Despite the inconvenience of having to move, it was nice to be at a campground where we could take a shower. First shower in weeks and it was amazing. There has never been a better invention, I swear to god.
It was strange to not have to prepare for running or education the next morning. All we had to do that evening was relax. The next day we would be going on Safari. I slept soundly that night, but apparently there was a wind storm– It did, however, freak some members of our group out enough to make them huddle with their tent mate throughout the night.
Reflecting as I fell asleep that night, I was thankful to have been granted this experience,
satisfied with our successes and failures in education and running,
overjoyed to have met everyone on the expedition,
happy that I wasn't running the next day,
sad that I wasn't running the next day,
homesick but not ready to leave,
and most of all: content.
To be continued in next blog posts:
|Posted by Breanna Cornell on December 10, 2012 at 9:20 PM||comments (2)|
BOTSWANA: Part 4
If you missed it, read these first:
First day running.
I woke, excited and nervous, but ready to go! Today was to be my first day running. Gill, Hannah, and I were to run our first day with the last day of Marie, Nansen, Saskia, and Hope. Due to our 1-day delay from lost luggage, the running schedule had been thrown off. I liked the idea, though, that we would get to run together as a complete team for a day. It seemed fitting.
Wanting to make good time, we quickly dissolved camp, and readied ourselves to run. We lined up on the paved road and took off as if we were in a track race. The pavement ended after about a quarter mile, as did the sprinting. We fell into pace. Despite my apprehensions of not having really run since I had gotten to Botswana, my legs felt amazing. The pace was slow, the first group having already run three days with two days of recovery, and our group wanting to remain conservative.
To quote Ferg: "Start slow then slow down!"
When the pavement dropped away, the ground became sand. It was firm in places, deep in others, and there was a sand that we ran through that we deemed "moon dust." Darker in color, this sand puffed up in tiny clouds when you stepped in it, getting in our socks and shoes, covering our legs in a fine gray powder. Confiding in the others, I told them it was cremated cows. That's what it seemed like– ashes.
In the first five miles of our first day of running, we experienced more diversity in the landscape than we had throughout the whole time along the reserve fence; the sandy "roads" twisted and turned, and split off from each other. They wound through trees, some with green buds, but most looked naked and dead. We were on a very slight downhill. The road seemed to split every quarter mile, and we became confused. Which way? Turns out, the road joined back up with itself, so it didn't really matter.
We trotted along as a group, a pack, until the land seemed to fall away and open up. There was a definitive line in the landscape, a slight drop in elevation, where the trees disappeared, and the sand became a dirt crust on the earth. The horizon opened up before us, a vast nothingness under long expanses of blue. We had made it to the salt flats.
Sam and Jay ready to film the runners & check out the salt flats.
Unlike the salt flats of Bolivia, the flats here did not reflect the sky. They were a dull brown color, with patches of white granular salt scattered throughout. The moon dust came in spells, as did small, black, creviced rocks covered in a green corrosion that looked like moss. The ground was cracked, resembling dried up algae. There were cow trails that criss-crossed and paralleled our path, rutted out from farmers ushering their cattle across the desert. The wind would pick up a swirl of dust here and there, stretching it into the sky like a tornado.
It was beautiful.
As the morning wore on, Hannah began to struggle. She was slowing down, her face was red and her breathing heavy. Not once did she utter a word of discomfort or pain. Marie assured everyone that it was alright to ask to slow the pace. The first group was determined to cover the full 50 km, this being their last day. It was easy to see their frustration, though, at having to stick with our group, this being our first day. They wanted to get 'er done, while we were being conservative. Our groups seemed to become segregated.
Entering the salt flats, hanging back with Hannah.
There became a point where we were separated by a great distance. Meeting up with the support crew, they insisted upon our groups staying together– the logistics would be difficult to work out with two running groups. Understanding this, we stuck together, hitting the 30 km mark before lunch at 1 PM.
Lunch was a difficult affair, as there was no shade. We had the education vehicle and the support vehicle line up parallel to each other, where we strung a tarp across the gap to create a shadow. There we rested, and Ray called attention to the issue with the two groups. We had to figure out wether we were going to stick together as 7 youth ambassadors, or go in our separate teams. We came to the conclusion that we would split up– the first group going at their own pace, while Gill, Hannah, and I would stick together.
Time for a completely honest moment: I was really pissed.
I know I'm going to sound like a complete jerk, but I'm going to be honest with you. I was ticked that my runstreak was broken, I was frustrated that I hadn't gone for a real run since coming to Botswana, I was jealous that the first group got to run on the seemingly harder terrain, and I was irked that they would also be going ahead of us today– running at a faster pace, completing the full 50 km. I wanted to RUN.
Honestly, I was walking the pace we were going at times. This wasn't what I had envisioned at all.
Please don't misinterpret this; I wasn't mad at my teammates, it was a general frustration– expectations I had set were not met. While these markers in my mind had not been reached, there were many things in the expedition that more than made up for it. I learned a lot about teamwork; about doing things that you really, really, REALLY don't want to do but do them anyway. Why? Because you aren't there for yourself, dummy.
You're there to EDUCATE. INSPIRE. And EMPOWER.
I think I was a bit selfish throughout the whole of the expedition, wether or not my teammates realized it. It was the root of a lot of frustration for myself. I'm a bit embarrassed to look back on it, but I definitely learned from it. I was put in my place more than once. A thank you to my teammates who taught me to let go of the ego.
Gill & Hannah – girls, you keep me grounded, were and are my inspiration!
We set off from lunch in our two groups. It was definitely a lot hotter out at 2:30 PM than it was when we had stopped at 1 PM. The heat radiated off in waves from the ground. The grayness of the landscape almost looked like the Arctic… so I told myself it was. This wasn't dirt I was running on, it was ice!
We were just over the 30 km mark when Hannah spoke up: "Hey, can we take a walking break?"
We slowed to a walk. Hannah was super red in the face, but hadn't commented on really hurting. We started a walk-run cycle, until, out of nowhere, Hannah collapsed. Gill propped Hannah up, having her lean on her legs.
She was over heating.
She had blacked out.
Holy crud buckets.
Ferg raced up, not a minute later. He poured his water on her, and radioed for the support vehicle to haul jeep over there quick. We had Hannah put a white shirt on, and doused her with water. Doctor Christina was there in no time. By the time Hannah was taken care of, the first running group had caught wind of the news, and decided to turn around and come back for their teammate. Marie, Saskia, Nansen, and Hope arrived with worried looks. Thank goodness Hannah was alright, but, Christina confided, it was probably a heat stroke– the only thing making it unofficial was that she didn't have Hannah's temperature reading.
Hannah wasn't going to run for the rest of the day.
This created a dilemma. To stay with Hannah or to continue running?
I felt fine, I had come here to run! Gill felt that it was important that we stay as a team, that we stick with Hannah. Hannah was in good hands, I reasoned; there wasn't anything I could do to help her more than Christina and Judith and the support crew could. We came here to run, to cover the distance, to make the seemingly impossible, possible. Despite this reasoning, I understood where Gill was coming from. We were also here to function as a team.
I turned to Hannah, "Would it be alright if I continued running with the first group?"
Hannah understood how much I wanted to run. She agreed that it was alright. Gill, I sensed, was mad at me. I had come into the first day, with a mindset for 50 km, while Gill and Hannah had come in with the mindset of easing into running. As much as I logically understood this, my emotions did not match up. I decided to stick with the first running group, to leave Gill and Hannah in the support vehicle. I felt like I was doing something wrong at the time, that I should have stayed in the support vehicle, but then again… if I had stayed with them, would I feel just as guilty for not running? I don't think there was a right answer, but in retrospect, I'm glad that I ran. It really gave me the opportunity to bond with the other half of our team.
We continued on.
We ran across the salt flats, in search of our destination: Kubu Island.
It was supposed to be a literal island– the salt flats we were running on used to be a sea.
Then, on the horizon, there was a bump. It began to take shape as the kilometers passed, a turtle rising from the sea. It was an island! Huge baobab trees rose from rounded rocks. We hit the 50 km mark right as our path turned onto the island. Our path wound around rocks, following the shoreline, back to where camp had already been prepared, ending at 51 km for the day. 51 km, that is, for the first running group– they had run a km back to make sure Hannah was alright. I had run a total of 48.05 km (29.86 miles). It was slow, but I felt good.
We drove around the island that night, to watch the sun fall, moon rise, and the stars materialize.
Baobob Trees at Kubu Island
Second day running.
I woke up, not feeling like I had run across the salt pans the previous day. I was ready to go at it again! I couldn't say the same for Hannah. She was pale, that morning, and looked sick. When asked, though, she would nod and say she felt alright. She was ready to run, even if it meant being in pain the whole time. Ray told her that she didn't have to worry about running today. Which is good. I think she would have pushed herself to run if someone hadn't told her it was okay not to, that, in fact, she shouldn't run. Not today.
Gill and I started off, apparently the earliest any i2P group has left camp, determined to beat the heat. Gill would remind me when I started to pick up the pace too much. We ran across the salt flats, Ferg and Kathy chasing our shadows. We were able to get in 30 km before lunch. I don't remember where, but Gill became really nauseous at one point, and decided to stop for the day. I continued on with Ferg. I had refined my goal of 50 km a day to at least more than a marathon. We were almost to the 42.2 mark when we reached camp. We had about another kilometer to go, so Ferg and I ran past camp, then turned around and ran back into camp. All in all, it was an uneventful day. I was just happy to be moving.
Coming into lunch, the previous day.
The salt flats did pose their own challenges that I didn't foresee. The salt and dry air really do drain the water out of you. I was drinking 8 liters of water a day by this point, and hardly using the bathroom while I was running. The mornings were warm, but tolerable. As the afternoon approached, the ground would start to reflect the heat, penetrating even the soles of your shoes. It got fairly windy at points, which felt good in the morning. The afternoon wind, though, would come in strong and hot, almost worse than the still air. The dimensionless landscape made you feel like you weren't moving at points. There were times when we could see the support vehicle in the distance waiting for us. We would think we were almost there, only to find that it was about a kilometer or more away.
The desert plays mental games.
I didn't listen to music at all on the first day, and for a couple hours on the second. Unlike the other runners, I wasn't drinking Gatorade– the stuff makes me feel sick, and throw up. During our refueling stops, I ate super salty chips and peanuts to keep up the electrolyte intake, and sugar cookies for energy. Super healthy, I know, but it got the job done. All in all, I felt great the first two days. I struggled a bit towards the end of the second day, but made it. Had one small blister that I drained that evening.
I was looking forward to our team reuniting and running together the next day.
To be continued in next blog post:
|Posted by Breanna Cornell on December 7, 2012 at 6:50 PM||comments (0)|
BOTSWANA: Part 3
If you missed it, read these first:
The morning of day four, George approached me and said: "You know, we've got to reshoot the filtration video."
"Well, I messed up on the filming. I cut your head off in the shot, and you were squinting into the sun. We've just got to reshoot it," George said apologetically.
I began to fume. I really hadn't wanted to be filmed this much. I admit, I was being a prat. I refused. I was convinced that I couldn't have restated what I had already said. Bob pulled me aside. I cried a bit. It wasn't just the video. It was the fact that I still didn't feel like part of the team, that I wanted to run, that my run streak was broken… Being able to cry it out a bit helped tremendously.
George and I finally got the filter piece done, which you can watch here:
With the larger educational part of the trip out of the way for myself, I helped to pack up camp. We were headed into the Central Kalahari Reserve today, to speak with the Bushmen tribe that lived there. I was really excited, as was everyone else in camp. I'm sure the first running group was excited to have a break as well. With camp packed into the jeeps, we drove along the fence until we came to a gate. At the gate, we unloaded while our guides and expedition team spoke with the police there to gain entry. It took a while, but we were allowed to pass.
Upon entering the reserve, we drove towards the center of the park, away from the fence that we had been following for the past three days. The sandy road widened considerably, as these roads were traversed by large vehicles used in the diamond mines. Yes, there were diamond mines in this reserve. We were passed by several vehicles from the mining company– one of which was carrying explosives, decked out with red flags and warning labels on the sides, escorted by two other ominous vehicles.
Saskia & Comrade lift weights while we wait for entry into the reserve.
Yeah, there were random weights on the ground. You pick them up, you put them down.
As we drove, we kept our eyes peeled for animals. We saw spring buck, which we had also seen outside the fence, and another hoofed animal, but no lions, giraffes, or elephants. It wasn't what I had expected of the reserve. For some reason I thought that it would change and become the Lion King Africa that I had envisioned. Nope. More dirt, more shrubs, more heat. While we busied ourselves looking for animals, our guides worried themselves about finding the Bushmen. The Bushmen are a nomadic group, so they don't have permanent settlements, making finding them difficult. You can't have reliable directions to someone's home when their home keeps moving.
I was really super excited to meet the Bushmen. If you've read Born to Run, then you'll be familiar with the concept of Persistence Hunting. If not, here it is in a nut shell: Persistence Hunting is the method of hunting animals by running them to heat exhaustion, based on the principle that humans have more efficient cooling systems and are better distance runners (notice: not sprinters). The Bushmen are the group of people that employ this method of hunting. I wasn't expecting us to go for a group run or anything, but it was very exciting to meet people whose culture and survival depended on what western society deems something done as exercise, recreation, or torture.
The BBC Earth did a wonderful short video on Persistence Hunting with the Bushmen.
You can watch it here:
Believe me, it's a LOT hotter than it looks...
Our guides were able to collect information about where the Bushmen's camp was located. They were situated very closely to one of the diamond mines. Our guides went ahead without us to speak with the Bushmen to make sure it was okay with them if we came and spoke with them. They returned, informing us that the Bushmen would be pleased to talk with us. Turning off the wider sand road onto a dirt two-track, we began to scan the horizon for the Bushmen's encampment. It took a while before we noticed that, hey, that wasn't a bush, but the top of a thatched roof.
We were close. Then, a voice crackled over the radio: "We can't interact with the Bushmen– the police are stopping us."
But their camp was right there!
Hannah shaking hands with one of the gaurds when we were entering the reserve.
Hannah's in training to be an awesome police-woman!
We drove up to the camp, and stopped. There they were, a family, waiting to greet us in the circle of shade provided by the lone, slim tree in their camp. And here were we, in our jeeps, decked out in expensive expedition gear, looking like complete tourists. We weren't allowed to approach them or take any photos, we were told, until the guides could explain to the police why we were here, and negotiate with them. The police arrived. Our guides spoke with them, then spoke with us.
We were not to take pictures.
We were not to take anything.
We were not to ask questions.
We were not to give them anything.
Only the Youth Ambassadors were to approach.
It wasn't what any of us had hoped for. Nonetheless, we approached, and made awkward introductions. Our guides couldn't translate for us, they weren't allowed. I knew "dumela," hello, and we shook hands, exchanged names, and then just sat there. And stared at each other.
They were beautiful people. Thin, but healthy. They seemed to be a family of several generations. A older woman, a mother, a sister; A grandfather, a brother, a son. They wore tee shirts and shorts, workers clothes, skirts, clothes that may or may not have been donated at one point. Only the baby seemed to be wearing traditional garb: a thong made of beads. The most interesting article that the women wore were huge diamond earrings. It made me give thought as to the Bushmen's relationship with the neighboring diamond mine. Did they work there? Did the diamond mine give them as gifts? If so, what was the motive? Questions that were to remain unanswered throughout the mute conversation.
We sat with them, in the little shade they had to offer, and passed around a little instrument– metal strips nailed to a piece of wood, straining over a perpendicular piece of metal, that, when plucked, created a "ting" noise. They smiled at us, and I felt so… I dunno… pathetic in their presence. Like we had come to gawk at them, not learn from their culture and experiences in the desert. With the police breathing down our necks, though, what were we to do? We left soon after, with an hollow feeling in my stomach.
There's a spring buck in this picture.
It was on our jeep ride back that it was revealed that the police had been following us for much longer than just our time in the reserve that day. Apparently, they had followed us for quite a distance along the fence; they were probably making sure that we weren't damaging the fence or something along those lines, but it was weird to learn that we had been followed, and I felt stupid for being so oblivious to it. Then the question of why we weren't able to interact with the Bushmen arose. It turns out, there are a whole slew of political issues surrounding, not just the Bushmen, but the diamond mining, the fence of the reserve, and water– some of the issues still remain unclear, but here is a summary:
Our interaction with the Bushmen was limited because the government didn't want videos, photos, or interviews put out that would present them in a negative light. Why would an interview with the Bushmen give the government worry? Well, the government has been trying to move them out of the game reserves, the Bushmen's original and only home, and into villages. The Bushmen don't want to abandon their nomadic lifestyle along with the many traditions that accompany it (ahem, persistence running to name one).
But why does the government want the Bushmen out? Are they really doing any harm living there? And that's where the facts become unclear…
Dr Outerbridge & Ray say logistics are a pain.
One reasoning could be that the government doesn't want to worry about a community interfering with the diamond mining. Another factor could be that the government feels that it has the obligation to provide all of its citizens with clean drinking water, accessible health care, and education– and how can it do that if the community it is trying to provide it to is constantly changing locations within a reserve? To which my response was: "Well, the Bushmen were doing fine without your help, and its obvious that they don't want it, so why worry?" which then sparked a debate about wether the governmental benefits were a lure to get the Bushmen out of the reserve, or if it truly is the obligation of one's country to provide such benefits. But if the government wants to help them, then why couldn't we buy anything from them? Why couldn't we give anything? Well, that's the incentive: come out of the reserve and get all of this wonderful stuff, or stay in the reserve and get no support. What prevents someone from getting support to the Bushmen from outside the reserve? Why… the fence!
Was the fence there to keep the Bushmen in? No, it couldn't be…
What was the purpose of the fence, then? It obviously didn't keep the lions in, as we had found tracks surrounding our camp. Some of the possible reasonings for the fence, we learned, included:
It is this last reason that I believe the fence is there.
Foot and mouth disease is a huge issue among livestock owners in Botswana. Other wild hoofed animals carry the disease. When the cattle interact with these animals, they can become diseased as well, and bring it back to their whole herd. I believe that the fence was in place to protect the livestock and prevent the spread of the disease over species. Cattle make up a huge part of Botswana's economy, which would be a great incentive for the government to construct a fence to protect the cattle. Outside of this reasoning for the fence, though, is a mystery to me yet.
We returned that evening to the campsite we had stayed at the previous night. Part of me wondered why we hadn't just left camp set up. We had been planning on camping within the reserve, but after our interaction with the police, it was decided that it would be best not to overstay our welcome. We had been planning on driving the rest of the way across the reserve the following day, but our plans were altered so that we now planned on driving along the perimeter, around the reserve, to the location where the next part of our adventure would start.
Our day had raised a lot of questions and mixed emotions in everyone. Peter captured these in interviews with us. You can see how we each interpreted our day with the Bushmen here:
We spent the whole of the fifth day driving. I really disliked sitting in the jeep all day. My legs were stiff and my butt sore, but my hopes were high: I would get my first day of running in tomorrow! We had spent that morning tuning in on a small radio to the BBC following the United States election. Romney vs Obama. Following the debates of the previous day, these americanized political ones seemed almost trivial. I enjoyed listening to our camp muse over their differing views.
During our drive, I was informed about the type of landscape our group would be running through: Salt Flats.
I was kind of disappointed. Aren't salt flats hard, dry salt? And flat? Not that we had seen any hills so far, but I was jealous that the first group got what appeared to be the tougher stuff: the deep sand, the monotonous fence, the piercing brambles… I felt like I wasn't going to get the same type of challenge. Pushing these thoughts out of my mind, I tried to envision what the salt flats would resemble… Would they look like the flats i2P had traversed in Bolivia? We were but a day away from finding out.
I felt like my legs needed to look like this or I wasn't getting the full-run-through-brambles experience!
We made camp at the intersection of two (paved!) roads, where we were to start in the morning. It was outside of a community, in a fenced in area. There were a group of boys, around the age of 9, who ran around the outside fence with wire toys they had constructed themselves. The wires were manipulated and looped so that they looked like the structural frames of cars, running on wheels made of pop cans, controlled by an extended steering column tall enough for the boy to drive while running. The attention to detail– seats, headlights, a license plate– was stunning. These children possessed amazing skill and creativity born of poverty and self discipline.
To grow up penniless and innovative, or prosperous but vapid?
It was a question I tossed around my skull while I slept that night,
awaiting the dawn,
awaiting the run.
To be continued in next blog post:
|Posted by Breanna Cornell on November 29, 2012 at 7:45 PM||comments (0)|
BOTSWANA: Part 2
If you missed it, read these first:
Day two, I was in the support vehicle. I got to hang with the part of the crew that I had yet to really get to know– Christina, Judith, and Comic. The runners took off at their usual pace, Ferg and Kathy bringing up the rear, and we drove off ahead. The support vehicle was stocked with cookies, salty peanuts, and potato chips– not exactly a health-nut's choice, but they got the job done. Each runner had their own jug of gatorade that they had mixed the previous night to their own preferences.
Meet Comic. He's an awesome guide. And funny.
Each 5 km, the runners would roll in. I'd ask them if they needed anything; hand them snacks, refill their hydration packs, apply sunscreen, etc… and we'd send them back out in a timely fashion. It was uneventful, but nice. I really enjoyed talking with the support crew– Judith is such a mom (in an awesome way), Christina is a hoot, and Comic's name describes himself. The feeling of separation between the education and running teams began to lessen as I got to chat with Saskia, Nansen, Hope, and Marie each time they breaked.
We greeted the runners with camp set up at the 45 km mark. They came in strong, ready to call it a day and save themselves for the next couple of days. Marie was struggling, though. What I perceived was that the pace was a bit fast at times, and Marie felt bad about asking people to slow down. She did, but I also think that she pushed through a lot of pain. She wanted to keep going. She wanted a full 50 km for the day. She wanted to prove that she could do the 50 km, and no one doubted her, but herself. She was frustrated– I would be too.
And it was filmed.
And let's be honest, do you want to be filmed when you're having a tough time?
But hey, you can watch it here:
Yo, Marie– you had a tough day, but you rock my socks off, girl.
But Marie was filmed, and she allowed i2P to include it in their videos– because that's what i2P strives to do: to show people can overcome their limits, that they can struggle, and still get up the next day and do incredible things! And Marie, we love you so much for that.
I do have to agree with Marie, though, as we sat, chatting in a tent before dinner: it almost felt like a reality TV show. Not quite what either of us had signed up for.
While it was 8 PM in Botswana, it was 1 PM EST, and homeroom for most classrooms. It was time for our first chat! All seven of us huddled around Ray's laptop. We weren't able to see the classrooms, but the classrooms could see us as we struggled to all fit in the frame. The students posted their questionsfor us to answer. A lot of them were things like "Where do you go to the bathroom," and "What have you been eating?" (which I'll post an FAQ blog at the end for those types of questions).
Why, hello, thousands of students! Thank you for joining us!
We focused on the questions that pertained to the curriculum and running– or so we tried. We had been logging our water intake before we came on the trip and during, to compare and contrast. We were all drinking about 2-3 liters of water a day before coming to Botswana. While the runner's intake went up to 7-9 liters per day, Gill, Hannah's and my intake remained about the same. We discussed topics along these lines with the students.
Post video call, I approached Bob. I hadn't gotten my run streak mile in for the day. My goal had been to make it at least a year. I had jogged around the London airport and wasn't about to stop now. Bob frowned and said no.
The guides found lion prints around camp…
But if I go with someone…
Two and a half minutes north, two and a half south to get…
Ironic that my run streak was broken on a running expedition.
Start date: January 1st, 2012
End date: October 31st, 2012
Total days: 305
Total miles: 1,762.4
May it rest in peace.
I'll admit, I cried myself to sleep that night. But as Sam will remind me, better than being dinner for some lion. And she's right. What's a mile over a once-in-a-life-time chance to run and educate in the Kalahari?
Not that that stopped the tears that night.
The following day found Hannah on the support vehicle, with Gill and I responsible for education. After the runners took off from camp, we busied ourselves. Not with education, but with sponsorship videos. While I disliked having to pose so that certain logos were visible, and using key words outlined by our sponsors, it was necessary. I mean, we wouldn't have half of the great gear that we do, and we probably would have been able to do this expedition without the support of our sponsors. For which they do deserve recognition.
Look, sponsors– Hope's giving you the fist bump!
Thank you, sponsors!
Following the sponsorship videos, I worked with George on creating a video that covered water filtration methods. I thought that it went well enough, having to write the script in my head as we filmed. To be honest, I was getting really frustrated. I had an idea about how the video should go, and George agreed with it– but I would start, forget what I was about to say, or the words would come out all wrong. This wasn't just with the filtration video, but with each time we filmed something. George or whomever was filming would then give an alternative way to phrase something that I had said, and I would like it– but then they would elaborate on their meaning while what they had just described to me was already slipping out of my mind… it was difficult.
It was hot.
The sun was in my eyes.
That take was perfect– why did we have to reshoot is?
Oh, because the filter wasn't in frame…
BUT, we finally got the filtration video down. With the final take, we packed up camp, and moved out to meet up with the runners for lunch.
Driving along, we didn't come across much in the way of things to use in educational videos. We were, however, to have a another video-conference with classrooms that evening. Until then, Gill and I endured being jostled around in the jeep. We met the runners who finished the day at 43.3 km, ready to take a couple of days off before their last day with Hannah, Gill and I on our first.
We enjoyed dinner that night with the knowledge that we would get to go into the reserve the next day. Dinner was always enjoyable. Our cook would announce dinner in the most formal way:
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen! Tonight, our starter is butternut squash soup!"
waving his arms with enthusiasm, his voice almost a song.
Cookie working his magic!
Every night, we had soup as a starter, followed by the main course. Usually a meet (beef) and starch (potato) and a vegetarian dish (diced veggies). It was a lot of potatoes, yams, squash, and carrots, but they were all delicious. Having been allowed to digest, desert would be served. Some nights, it was pudding or cake; other nights, fruit. We got pineapple slices served as a single ring, in a bowl, and what I'm sure was canned fruit one night– but they were brought out in single serving camping bowls on cafeteria trays right to your seat. Even though we were eating diner at folding tables, with hardly enough room for everyone, on aluminum plates; and even though the meals were simplistic and cooked over a fire, dowsed in oil and butter; and even though there was sand in the bread, I felt like I was eating at the classiest restaurant with the most decadent desserts.
Our chef was amazing, in his spirit and his cooking!
I went to bed stuffed.
To be continued in next blog post:
|Posted by Breanna Cornell on November 25, 2012 at 11:00 PM||comments (0)|
If you missed the intro, you can find it here: Introduction
Our First Night Camping,
Eve of the Expedition
We camped right outside the Central Kalahari reserve that evening, making preparations for the next day. Camp consisted of the dining tables (folding tables under a large pop-up), "the dome" (Ray's tent where many electronics were stored), and the circle of tents surrounding the dome. We shared tents, two people to a tent.
Above: sleeping quarters; Below: food tent/meeting tent/get work done tent.
That evening, we were informed of which running and education group we would be in. They were as follows:
Group 1: Nansen, Saskia, Hope, Marie
Group 2: Gill, Hannah, Brea
Due to the day lost to missing baggage, the original plan had to be reformmated. Our new schedule now resembled something like this:
Days 1 - 3: Group 1 run, Group 2 educate and support.
Days 4 & 5: Travel through the reserve.
Day 6: Groups 1 & 2 run.
Days 7 - 10: Group 2 run, Group 1 educate and support.
In this way all runners would have an equal opportunity to cover the same distance.
I would be lying if I said I was completely cool with being in the second group. In all honesty, I really wanted to be in the first group. We had had our taper week prior to travel, and then spent three days pretty much sitting. I was ready to get moving! I had a little too much energy, some of which got channeled into anxiety. Ferg (Fergus Hawke!), a seriously cool ultrarunner, who was to be the second support runner with Kathy, had taken note that I had mentioned that I was on a runstreak. Understanding this, he invited me for a 10 minute jog away from camp. It helped to relieve gargantuan amounts of anxiety for me. Thank you, Ferg.
I'm sure other runners were just as anxious. Anxious about covering the distance the following day. Anxious about the extended taper if you weren't running. Anxious and excited, the energy mingled together– a lot of positive anxiety and just straight up "what have I gotten myself into" anxiety. We fell into restless sleep with warnings of scorpions and camel spiders climbing into the tents if we left them unzipped ringing in our ears.
Hannah and I woke with the sun, before 6 AM. The sun was bright and penetrating, the birds loud and squwacking. I don't know how anyone could sleep through it. I had rested fitfully in my -15ºƒ bag– the luck of the draw from the sleeping bag pile– sweating up a swamp. The night hadn't cooled off as much as I expected, and the morning already felt warm. It wasn't going to be easy coming from a local that already had snow.
Welcome to a whole lot of fence...
After scarfing down a breakfast of oatmeal and toast, we packed up camp, and waved the runners of. Gill was on the support vehicle with Christina, our doctor; Judith, our logistics; Bob, cofounder; and Comic, our guide and Botswana native. The support drove ahead with Kathy and Ferg bringing up the rear as support runners, equipped with walkie talkies and satellite phones. The runners themselves– Nansen, Saskia, Hope, and Marie– carried a tracker, iPhone (for tweets, photos, and video), and a walkie talkie.
Hannah and I were on the education team, and neither of us was quite sure what that entailed yet. We had reviewed the curriculum (view curriculum here), but how we were going to approach each topic was yet a mystery. The topics ranged from survival in the Kalahari, to biodiversity, to adaptations in plant life, to developing your own water filter. The topics appeared to cover a broad spectrum, and it wasn't clear as to how we were going to connect the topics. We were to work with the i2P education team to weave a web of connection between these topics: Adriana, a teacher; George, a doctor from Simon Fraser University; and Peter, a professional reporter.
Speaking with the team, Hannah and I learned that we would drive along until something (be it the landscape, the plants, or any animals or people we may run into) that would relate to the curriculum. We actually found a lot that. Comrade, the guide that was with us, was very knowledgeable about all of the animals and plant life. When we didn't know something, we had books that the education team had brought along and we would look it up. Then, they would film us. None of it was scripted, per say, which made it difficult. We weren't memorizing anything, just spewing out all that we had learned in as concise of a format as possible. You would not believe how much footage they took of Hannah and I. I never expected to be filmed that much.
Below is a link to the video that was comprised of all the footage that was taken for that day.
Yes, the intro is cheesy, I'm aware of that.
But it was fun, so don't mock me.
Also, it was Halloween.
Appreciate the zebra spandex...
But that was just a fraction of what we did that day. We were able to enter a village, just outside of the Central Reserve. On our drive to the village, we followed blue, concrete cylindrical markers spaced evenly through the bush. Turns out that these were markers for the water main that brought the village water. One pipe, extending in a long lonesome journey into the desert from an unknown source provided by the government. The village was composed of the Kalahari Bushmen that had once lived in the reserve. Why were they now out of the reserve? Many reasons, of which water was one. The Bushmen are a nomadic group, and the government has an obligation to provide clean drinking water to it's people; it can't do that if they are constantly on the move in the reserve. The government was also maintaining a mining operation within the reserve, which may or may not have been a factor in their relocation. I am fairly certain that there were more politics taking place than we were informed about.
Needless to say, with all of the political issues surrounding the village, we were not allowed to take videos or photos.
We were, however, allowed to interact with the villagers. Hannah, an aspiring police-woman, was able to give a Canadian badge to the police officer we spoke with and ask her about policing in Botswana. We were able to play soccer with the local kids. After a rather lengthy game with undefined teams, Hannah and I bade farewell, giving away bandanas.
I had been told to bring some small gifts for the village children, so I had gotten a lot of bandanas with different designs and colors, thinking it versatile, useful, and fun. We happily gave them away, but then they started asking for more. I did want to share, and it is painful to see the stark difference in lifestyles between theirs and my own, but it didn't feel… right. Like, it isn't my job to give away stuff. I'd rather give health care, or drinking water… and the way it brought the children to the street! They saw we were white, we had stuff, and they flocked to us. It felt weird. I didn't like it. They shouldn't be begging, not for a bracelet, not a bandana… but would I act any different had I grown up impoverished? Would I jump up and down for a bandana, had I not been able to afford to bring 15 of them?
I don't know.
And it was the first of many experiences that made me look both outside and inside of myself– my lifestyle and the culture I've come from.
We met up with the runners for lunch, and then greeted them at camp that evening. They were able to complete 43.3 km (26.9 miles) on the sandy "road" that followed the double-fence boundary of the Central Kalahari Reserve. It was a lot of sand, a lot of brambles, a lot of shrubbery, and a lot of fence. It seemed, in a word, boring. Gill, Hannah, and I were able to get a 10 min jog in that evening, which felt amazing after another day in the jeeps.
Below is the link to the video of how the first day went for the runners:
After a camp-encounter with a camel spider (of which we found many throughout this trip), and an amazing dinner, Hannah and I crawled happily into our tent, surprisingly tired, and fell asleep.
To be continued in next blog post:
– – –
At this point, I would like to thank Mosu Safaris, the safari guide company that chaperoned us during this trip. They prepared our meals and set up the dining tent and tables. They were responsible for finding a good campsite and ensured that our bags made it from one campsite to the next. It was their safari jeeps that acted as our support and education vehicles.
Thank you Oliver and Mosu Safaris!
Also a HUGE thanks to our guides,
Comic & Comrade
whom were very knowledgable.
|Posted by Breanna Cornell on November 22, 2012 at 2:50 PM||comments (0)|
Man, do I have a lot to cover...
Sorry that it has taken so much time in preparing this post. I've been busy upon returning– unpacking, working on catching up on school work, family visiting for Thanksgiving and the likes. I was really busy prior to leaving with trying to get ahead in school, work, and training– which accounts for the lack of blog posts these past couple of months. So thank you for sticking with me!
As you may know,
I went to Botswana with impossible2Possible
as a Youth Ambassador!
all of the photos, and videos, and content that are posted on the expedition website don't even begin to cover everything that we did, experienced, and lived. That is what I will cover here. There's a lot to share, and I'll try to keep it all relevant, condensed and informative. After much contemplation on the layout, I thought I would take each blog post day by day of the expedition. So, here goes nothing:
It was in July that I received an email that read "CONGRATULATIONS!" announcing that I had been selected as one of 8 Youth Ambassadors for impossible2Possible (i2P). Botswana was our destination, to run and educate our objectives. I seriously almost peed my pants every time I thought about it– I was so excited. I learned that I would be galloping through the desert with Marie, Saskia, Hannah, Hope, Holly, Nansen, and Gillian. I was ecstatic to meet my fellow Youth Ambassadors. We had weekly Skype and phone conferences that covered everything from training, to cultural sensitivity, to education. Although informative, seemed disconnected. I was going to be spending several weeks with these people in a foreign country and I had hardly learned anything about them. I would be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive.
Read the Youth Ambassador's biography's & learn about the team here!
Gill: the Adventurer; Nansen: the Photonic-Outdoorsman; Saskia: the Trailblazer; Hannah: the BA Cop; Holly: the Future Youth Ambassador; Hope: Get-Er-Done–Hope-alope; Marie: the Push-yo-Limits-Gal.
In leading up to the expedition, we Youth Ambassadors followed a training plan that incorporated back to back long runs, hill repeats, tempos, and strength workouts. It honestly didn't differ that much from the plan I had been following for my marathon prep and 50-miler plan. The workouts went really well for me– I was just continuing what I had been doing all along– but other Youth Ambassadors had struggles. One person rolled their ankle and had to modify the workouts, another felt pains from a previous injury, but everyone overcame whatever challenges they faced to get the training in. Unfortunately, Holly broke a bone in her foot and, being in a cast, was unable to heal in time. Health being of the upmost importance, i2P wished not to stress the injury more. Holly was guaranteed a spot on the next expedition, giving her the time needed for a full recovery but not losing all of her hard work.
Eight Youth Ambassadors became seven.
I'm sad that I did not get to know Holly, but I'll be excited to follow her on i2P's next adventure in Utah!
The day came when it was time to leave for Botswana. Somehow, I managed to fit everything into two carry-ons. My flights were to go from school to Chicago, Chicago to London, London to Johannesburg where I would meet up with the rest of the i2P team. We would then all fly into Botswana together. About 19 hours in-flight, with 17 hours of layover. However, I had a pleasant surprise at the London airport. Having just arrived, I spotted two women wearing shirts with the i2P logo. They were Adriana (i2P education team) and Kathy (support runner and Ray Zahab's wife). They had flown in with Nansen, their flight having been redirected due to Hurricane Sandy. I was glad to get to meet some of the i2P team and gain some travel companions.
I used the time in the layovers and flights to review what lay ahead:
The Youth Ambassadors were to be split into 2 running teams. The first team would run the first 4 days, while the second team would man the support vehicle and carry out the educational objectives for those days. Then the two teams would flip-flop, the second group running and the first on support and education. The goal was to cover 50 km a day for all eight running days. There would be two rest days between the flip-flop as we traversed a reserve where we weren't allowed to run– partly due to the wildlife (ahem, lions) and partly due to (later we learned) the diamond mining. Because we were short a Youth Ambassador, we would be in uneven groups of 4 and 3.
The goals of the educational team were broad (the full curriculum can be found here), but I was going to focus in on the water filtration, water supply, and water quality aspects of the instructing. I had packed two water filters for this purpose. Sure, the outline was good– but we still hadn't learned who was running which leg, who was educating on what, and if the group dynamics would work out.
I was anxious.
Anxious to learn about the Youth Ambassadors.
Anxious to start running and educating.
Anxious about travel.
Travel makes me really anxious. The food, the sitting, the unfamiliar territory– needless to say, I probably freaked Adriana, Kathy, and Nansen out when I went for a jog around the terminal to keep up my run streak, then complained that the nutrition labels were in kJ and I couldn't remember the conversion factor to kCal (that's 4.184 kJ/kCal). It's no secret that I've struggled with an eating disorder, and still fall into those tendencies on occasion. It was probably the biggest struggle of the whole expedition– to keep my anxiety under control. It probably wasn't the best first impression… but they took it in stride. Adriana and Kathy seemed just as excited as I was to get to know me as I them.
Having departed October 27th, we finally arrived in Botswana as a team on the 29th. We were finally all together as Youth Ambassadors. Introductions being a bit awkward aside, we seemed to click as a team.
We came upon our first real challenge before even leaving the airport. Nine of i2P's bags, and Gill's bag, were lost. Bags containing tents, sleeping bags, and other essential camping gear. We couldn't depart without them. Bob and Ray pulled some strings and worked some magic and we ended up at a gorgeous hotel-resort type place for the night. It was nice to have a night to get cleaned up from two days of travel, nice to be able to sleep in a real bed after sleeping on planes and before sleeping on the ground for two weeks. It was also nice to have a night where we didn't have to focus on the expedition but could get to know our teammates. Despite the fact that the lost luggage set us back a day, it was a blessing in disguise.
The next day, our baggage had arrived. At least, i2P's did. Gill's bag was still lost. She wasn't able to recover her bag until the end of the expedition, before flying home. She had to go out and buy clothes from the local stores and borrow from the team (not that anyone minded– Gill is killer awesome). Having gone out shopping with Judith (our awesome logistics-mom), Gill returned exclaiming that all the clothes were fancy. Showing us the nice shirt she had bought, she said that it was the least-dressy thing she could find. Indeed, as we drove out of town in our open-support-jeep-type vehicles, many of the people we passed were dressed fairly well. They smiled, waved, and yelled "DUMELA! HELLO!" Despite the fact that it was a more touristy area we were leaving, Botswana proved to have a friendly demeanor throughout.
And well dressed people.
To be continued in next blog post:
Other Stuffs... you thought I was done? What?
|Posted by Breanna Cornell on June 23, 2012 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
I am going to be a
Youth Ambassador for i2P!!!
I'm am super thrilled to share that impossible2Possible has announced it's youth ambassador selection! I am especially flattered to have been chosen to partake in the forthcoming adventure!
I can not wait to meet and work with the i2P team, Gillian Hinton, Hannah Elkington, Holly Bull, Hope McCarty, Marie Donovan, Nansen Weber, and Saskia Vaisey!
Introducing the Youth Ambassadors for Expedition Africa2012!!! Welcome to the i2P team Breanna, Gillian, Hannah, Holly, Hope, Marie, Nansen and Saskia! Join them as they will run across some of the most beautiful regions in the Republic of Botswana. These i2P Youth Ambassadors will then relay information back to thousands of students in classrooms around the world as they study water, share the experience of running ultra marathons day after day, and learn what it takes to execute an international expedition!"
Information on the expedition to Botswana can be found here.
Below is a summary of what the 2012 Botswana expedition is about:
In the fall of 2012, impossible2Possible (i2P) is going back to the incredible continent of Africa! On this next adventure i2P will lead 8 Youth Ambassadors (aged 17-21) on the journey of their lives as they run across some of the most beautiful regions in the Republic of Botswana – a country of 2 million people that is located just north of South Africa. The i2P Youth Ambassadors will relay information back to thousands of students in classrooms around the world as they study water, share the experience of running ultra marathons day after day, and learn what it takes to execute an international expedition.
Simon Fraser University (SFU) and i2P have partnered to create a captivating curriculum centered on the topic of Water. The program will include an introduction to the awareness of the essential need for water and food by all living organisms, the costs associated with delivering drinking water to communities around the world, and how quality of life is affected directly and indirectly by access or lack there of, to clean drinking water. The Experiential Learning Program and accompanying Challenge Based learning projects have proven extremely successful for teachers and students alike.
The eight i2P Youth Ambassadors will be the direct conduits of information back to thousands of students following intently from around the world. These Youth Ambassadors will be the lead researchers for an Experiential Learning Program like no other on the planet. The Exploratory Program will see students from around the globe ask questions for which the Youth Ambassadors will be tasked to find the answers.
A live and interactive website is the portal to every impossible2Possible Expedition! With each new project our dedicated team of volunteers works very hard to provide new and improved features. All content is free, and schools have access to all content at no charge. This content is updated at least once a day (and sometimes) more on the i2P homepage, and partner sites like Outside Online and CNN will provide an update on the Expedition a handful of times during its duration."
These cool kids were the Youth Ambassadors for the previous expedition to Africa.
Check it out here.
The topic of this expedition is absolutely perfect, considering that I am majoring in Environmental Engineering. Environmental Engineers work a great deal with water quality– environmental protection, remediation and conservation. Clean drinking water is important in so many ways, preventing the spread of illnesses and maintaining good hygene. The problem is that most of the world lacks access to water, let alone water that is clean. This expedition will help to educate about the world water crisis, as well as take action in confronting the issue.
Please consider making a donation towards the expedition (see previous post on fund-raiser here).
I will be posting updates on i2P here, but please be sure to check out and follow i2P on:
Words simply cannot express how thankful, excited, how thrilled I am to have this opportunity; to run long, educate, and hopefully help to better the world in doing what I love to do! If you have any questions about the expedition, fund-raising efforts, or anything at all, comment below or message me on twitter (@love2Bre).
Do what you love
Love what you do!
Best of Wishes,