Its happened again and unfortunately I don’t think it is going to be the last time. The other day I finished my run (45km) at a town called San Lorenzo in Panama. There were no hostel, hotels or similar so I camped in my Force Ten tent behind the petrol station. There was also a trucker’s café and I decided that it was easier to just eat my lunch and dinner there. rather than cook. When I woke up the next day that proved to be a mistake.
As soon I woke I was running but not down the road but in search of a bathroom. Luckily the guard had the keys to a remarkably clean facility though he did take his time to find the right key!
Feeling somewhat better I had to make a decision. Stay at the petrol station for the day and hope to get better while avoiding the café and cooking my own meals or run the 35 km to the next town with a B6B. I opted for the second option as the first really didn’t appeal.
There were some obvious downsides to my choice. Firstly I was not fuelled for the journey and refuelling could result in further troubles. I decided to go for the least offensive food choice and had two jam sandwiches. Secondly I would be lacking in minerals as not only would I be sweating a lot but I was already deficient. All that was going to get me through the day was will power and determination.
To add to the discomfort of an unsettled stomach I also had to deal with the surroundings. The government has decided to build a new dual carriageway from David to Panama and this has resulted in the road being rather more dangerous than normal. In some places there is a hard shoulder on my side of the road and in others it’s on the other side. Quite often there isn’t a hard shoulder on either side and the tarmac is only wide enough for two vehicles – this resulted in me having to jump off the road at times. Then there are the single lane sections and the bridges under construction. Also, due to it being a construction site there are a lot of lorries! All in all it makes for a run that you need to keep you wits about you and not be worrying about other things like a bad stomach.
I started at a walk and did not get more that 2 km before I was diving into the undergrowth looking for a tree to squat behind. To add to the discomfort there were an extraordinary amount of insects and biting insects at that. I am sure my “tush” was peppered with bite marks!
Convincing myself that my stomach would now be empty I pushed on. I managed to make it about 10km before it the inevitable tightening in my stomach occurred again. This time I was in the middle of a built up area that had no restaurants or shops with loos. Clenching every muscle (and one in particular) I made my way gingerly onwards determined I would find a suitable spot. About 2 km it appeared in the form of a road-side restaurant. I quickly parked my stroller, removed my vital valuables and my waterproof bag which keeps my emergency loo paper and made my way to the bathroom. It was not a nice room. The floor was covered in mud and in the actual cubicle the bin was overflowing and for some inexplicable reason there was an empty bottle of rum. There was also no lock on the door and no loo paper! On the plus side there was a loo seat which is a luxury you are not always provided. I don’t think we need to go any further.
I emerged a new man and purchased a can of coconut water slightly resenting that the dollar I was spending is probably not going to last that long. I hit the road again and managed to pick up the pace. The green scenery passes by and everything seems to be on the up, including the road. Then at the 25km mark it happens again. Lucky I am at a section of road that has a good verge that delves down from the main carriageway. I nestle into the long grass and, well I’ll stop there.
10km later I arrive at my final destination and after a little hunting around find the only cheap accommodation. I have made it. I am somewhere clean and can relax a little.
Sorry if I go into too much detail but I think it is important that people don’t think I am just here on a jolly and spend each day running a marathon in the beautiful sunshine. It’s hard work and some days harder than others and that is, in part, what makes this such a big challenge on a daily basis.