One of my goals for 2022 was to run in 15 new places – it was certainly a big ask but there was a point I really thought I’d make it! Unfortunately, I fell slightly short of this goal – *only* managing 11 new places. But I still think this is a pretty awesome achievement, especially as these new places are located in four different countries – Botswana, South Africa, Ghana and Tanzania. Not bad, huh? Okay, enough of the self-praise, LOL, let’s take a look at these places…
1/ Accra, Ghana. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d one day run here but in September 2021 we got some work in Ghana which has meant I have visited this beautiful coastal country in West Africa a few times now. The first time I visited, I wasn’t able to run in the capital, but in January this year, I managed my first run here. Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn and as such didn’t manage to explore the places I wanted to! However, at the end of my trip, I squeezed in a 9km walk before my flight back home which allowed me to see so much of the city centre.
2/ Senchi, Ghana. On this same trip, we were based in the tiny village of Senchi which borders Atimpoku, the capital of the Asuogyaman District. Whilst here, I ran most days and it being the dry winter season, the days were cooler than on my previous visit. Each route I chose was unique, but all ended on the shores of Lake Volta with a beautiful view of an island on the lake.
3/ Atimpoku, Ghana. On the third day of this trip, I ran to the nearby town of Atimpoku so I could run over the Adomi Bridge. Opened in 1957 by Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, the Adomi Bridge is a latticed steel arch suspension bridge crossing the Volta River. It is the first permanent bridge to span the Volta River which drains south into the Gulf of Guinea and is Ghana’s longest suspension bridge. As I approached the Bridge, it looked majestic even in the mist. I felt a lump in my throat as I crossed the road and made my way towards it.
4/ Bloemfontein, South Africa. In March, on the way to my ultra-trail marathon in Addo, we stopped over in Bloemfontein, popularly known as the “City of Roses”. When I googled the best places to run in Bloemfontein, the internet was unanimous in its recommendation – Naval Hill in the Franklin Nature Reserve. We started our 5km run at the large bronze statue of Nelson Mandela. The route was well-marked with each kilometre highlighted on a neat sign board with the hashtag, #LiveYourPassion! The route alternated between road and trail, and varied a bit in elevation, but nothing too strenuous. The route was lined with lots of indigenous trees and shrubs, and we even spotted a giraffe towards the end of our run!
5/ Addo, South Africa. From here, we headed to the Addo National Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape of South Africa where I ran my first Ultra-Trail Marathon. The terrain, landscape and flora transitioned beautifully over the 44km run and I felt extremely privileged to be immersed in such splendour that I often forgot how tough the race was or how far I had to go. There were many moments where I simply looked around in awe and thought, “I get to do this”.
6/ Gqeberha, South Africa. Once we were done with the race, we spent a couple of days in Gqeberha. I had read there were many running routes here but being from a landlocked country, I stuck to the beach. I walked on Bluewater Bay Beach and on another day, we headed to the waterfront promenade for my walk. It was a public holiday in South Africa, so there were many walkers and runners on the promenade and several swimmers and surfers in the ocean.
7/ Khudumalapye, Botswana. We celebrated my daughter’s tenth birthday in April with a camping adventure in the Kgalagadi Desert. On our return drive, I ran in a village I’d never heard of – Khudumelapye. It was a short run but brought much excitement to confused spectators who probably wondered why I was running in the middle of the day or running at all!
8/ Molepolole, Botswana. In early July, I ran in Molepolole which is an urban village about 50km from the city. Five things stood out on my run here: the old Molepolole Congressional Church UCSSA built in 1907, the Kgari Sechele II Secondary School established in 1958 as one of the first secondary schools in the country, the street markets selling everything from vegetables to cattle bells, the historic Mopenwaeng Postal Tree and the colourful silos behind the kgotla.
9/ Phikwe, Botswana. Later in July, I participated in a Half Marathon in Selebi-Phikwe, an old mining town in the Central District of Botswana. Originally named the Bosele Marathon, the Orange Phikwe Marathon is the oldest in Botswana, started in 1985 by the late Boet Kahts and Phill Roberts who was a teacher at Selebi Phikwe Senior Secondary School. When I started running in 2017, this was one of the races I bucket-listed and although it took me 5.5 years to #RunPhikwe, I finally did it! It was a great run and definitely one of my highlights of the year.
10/ Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In November, I travelled to Dar es Salaam for work. Nestled along a natural and quiet harbour on the Indian Ocean, Dar is a multicultural city, and the diversity of its people is reflected in its culture, food and music, and even buildings which display a remarkable mix of architectural styles, influenced by Swahili, British, German, and Asian traditions. I spent the week running along the pristine White Sands Beach.
11/ Pugu Forest Reserve. When the workshop concluded, I did a hike in the Pugu Forest Nature Reserve which lies on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. The hike was a lovely experience, and the reserve has several different trees as well as gorgeous lakes and bridges. It was strenuous in parts especially where they had built concrete steps but there were some forgiving flat or gently sloping sections and many opportunities to rest on benches and admire the views.
I absolutely loved looking back at all the new places I ran this year. Which new places did you run/walk/hike in this year?