Started the day leaving the cozy river camp after another filling breakfast. It was nice to visit with Simon's family this morning. They came up to camp with us for the night, but we were too tired to catch up last night. Before we started back running, we had to drive back to where we had left off so an hour of bouncing around in the car was our warm up. We enjoyed great views of Kili for most of the morning after a photo in from of Meru (the opposing peak). From this point we were running closer to the high villages and a majority of the ribbons had been taken down by the children (was the guess). Because of this, we took a while to cover the first 12k (like 3 hours). We were mostly hiking today as the terrain was not forgiving. We are back in the canyons of the south side with dramatic ups & downs.
We had some cool descents & hot climbs, and moved slow. At one point we even had to use a rope to climb a steep embankment and rejoin the trail. As the sun made it's way through the sky we got the feeling it was going to be another long day. We had to keep moving on the last section as the sun was going down. Iddy, Jerry, Steve, Jake and I stuck together. I found myself running just enough ahead so that I could keep my eyes out for markers. That worked well until the markers ran out. Made for an interesting evening & wrap up to the day. Turns out the marker guy took us lower (away from the mountain, more into the towns) when we were supposed to stay high (closer to Kili and skirt the top of town). Iddy didn't have a phone because he had put it in the car to charge. There was a loud sermon being broadcast over the village as we were descending into town and into the sunset, now making our way on Iddy's guess. It was an eery feeling to be moving into the night amidst the bellows of the microphone and the looks from the village people as we passed through. We obviously stuck out and their question of us running through town was as obvious as our loss for where we were. We caught up to Menase who had been marking the course. He had Simon on the phone working out a plan. Simon had waited for Tim and then taken the planned high route trying to catch up to us. Tim was back a ways so after coordinating a meeting spot the Menase hung up the phone and started talking to the locals.
From the helpful bit of Swahili that Steve understood we were basically trying to make our way to the church. Funny thing was there are multiple churches and unlike home, the streets are not named, directions are given by landmarks. Was it the one back up on the hill with the bellowing speaker? What about the one down near the school house. We had guys in jeans and bling running along with us trying to help find our way. It was uncomfortable in the moment not knowing where we were, but looking back on the experience I am in awe and have to giggle a bit at the thought of all these foreigners running through town. Guys running alongside convinced they knew where to lead us. Us following blindly. Then making it to another corner of town and being handed off to the next local expert. We eventually popped out from a side street and saw the team Land Cruiser that would take us to pick up Tim and then up to camp. It was a welcome site! 2+hours driving in the car to finally land at camp, another mini-adventure to wrap up the day. A super sweet spot, at the Kilmanjaro Mountain Huts and a burly drive to get there. Next year, the route will stay high :) We got to enjoy a hot shower, which was a welcome treat and a yummy dinner of beef stew, rice & veggies, hot chocolate & fried bananas for dessert. The camp hosts performed their Kilimanjaro songs for our tired group. It was hard not to smile, but mustering the energy to join their dance didn't happen amongst the sleepy runners. It's after 11pm as I write. Long day.
Start 9:19am Run: 9:13:25 Climb: 7031
Descent: 7149 High Point: 6125 Low Point: 4764