Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What I'm Watching Wednesday - Running motivators

Three professional runners (Charlie Engle (USA), Ray Zahab (Canada), and Kevin Lin (Taiwan)) take on an ultimate challenge to cross Africa's Sahara desert on foot. Running. About a two marathon distance per day. (52.4 miles)

That's not something done without a support crew! It's an expedition requiring doctors and planners besides the runners. Yep - it's a travel/road trip movie in essence. Not only about the logistics of the effort but the mental and emotional ups and downs each of the runners endured.

And an interesting cross-country view of Africa and the folks there. One image sticks in my mind - a little boy, perhaps 7 years old, parked alone by his nomadic family in a desolate stretch  - and left for days as they go hunting for water.

From the runner's blog, Day 46:

Yesterday, while breaking trail a few miles ahead of the runners, Mohamed and I met a 7-year-old boy who'd been left in the desert by himself to tend his family's herd of sheep, goats, and camels. His parents had been gone for two days, traveling south to collect water from the nearest well.

The boy was scared and hungry. It was heartbreaking. Mohamed and I sat with him in the afternoon's hot sun for awhile. He had camel milk to drink and a few bits of dried meat to eat, but those appeared to be his only forms of sustenance. We gave him a box of cookies, a few 1.5 liter bottles of water, and a plastic bag filled with fresh dates. We asked if his parents would be back soon. He said yes, in a few days. We asked if this happened often; he said yes, whenever they needed water.

I kept thinking the boy was the same age as a my own kids when they were second or third-graders, and yet—due to the demands of human survival in this, place, the world's largest desert—he'd been left alone with the responsibility of looking after his family's entire material wealth while his parents chased down enough water to ensure their next stretch of short-term future.

What struck me most was how hard it must be for people in this part of the world to get ahead in their personal affairs, when so much of their daily life is concentrated on merely surviving. It certainly re-prioritizes things.
Donovan Webster

In this suburban fear-driven area - where we've been saturated with media events covering all the child abandonment cases, neglect cases, what-if-the-bad-guys-are-coming-to-get-you mentality - this was an harrowing sight.

A charity effort is linked to the expedition - H2O Africa.

A lighter movie by far! Covering tales of runners from the elite level to mid-pack and back of pack-ers. And a great motivator for me - my 1/2 marathon official training started yesterday.  Just what I needed to get my mind back on track for the January effort.
This film is focused on individuals - their training efforts throughout the year and results and experience during the race.The website includes updates on the runners in subsequent years and their running careers. Interesting to watch the drive of the elite runners during training and setbacks, likewise with the casual runners and the juggling of home life and training.

So, what have you been watching?

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