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TUNNEL VISION

Next day I had a lovely day I made so many stops I did well to run 41km finishing in a small bustling town called Dabeiba.

My first stop was at a road side shop. The owner called Carlos asked me what I like about Colombia.

Jokingly I said… ” The coffee and the beautiful girls, the prettiest of the whole trip, so far..”

” Well Tony, I can’t do anything about the girls but here is some coffee! ”

Carlos also gave me some pan dulce or sweet bread.

THANKS FOR THE COFFEE CARLOS

On I run, it’s getting hot so I am looking for another place to rest. I came to a military checkpoint. The soldiers point me down a laneway saying there is a store there. It’s about 100 meters off the road, a few locals are painting a community hall of sorts. They look up and wave.

DOWN A LANE I RAN TO THE STORE

 Down further I arrive at the store. A woman is serving some soldiers and is clearly surprised to see me turn up!

I order a soda and also get my second complimentary coffee of the morning.

After the soldiers have gone I ask the lady  how many hours a day the soldiers are out on the road, she says 12 and at night time they are in the mountains, it’s too dangerous on the road, what with sniper fire. I love asking questions, probably too many, one of these days I will probably be accused of being a spy!

So I ask where they sleep and she points out a dorm building. They do their own cooking and washing there. They are mostly young lads, kids really.

Back out on the road I am told that the FARC enemy DETAILS HERE  though I am told are not as effective as before, still burn out buses and cause disruption.

I am told they are also not as popular as before. I am also told that many people in civilian clothing are amongst their ranks, so one never knows for sure who the enemy is.

The last election here was in 2010. They want to disrupt the government. Their beliefs are of Lennon and Trotsky.

I talk to another soldier. His name is Raul. He tells me he has not seen his wife for two months as he has been stationed at this checkpoint.

” Tony Please put this picture up on your website and tell Maria I love her so much!  I will text her your blog and she will watch out for the picture. ” Makes you want to cry!

RAUL ON THE RIGHT SENDS ALL HIS LOVE TO HIS WIFE MARIA.

Later it’s hot, really hot so I put up an umbrella as I run. There is not much traffic and the air is windless. I am not running fast so I can manage it, even if it is a bit awkward. It keeps some heat off me, whatever about the humidity. I can have a break from wearing a hat. They say wear a hat, but sometimes you get really hot with a hat.

So there I am skipping thru the mountains with my umbrella, just like Mary Poppins! What’s that song…

Super CALI…. Well I will be in Cali in a couple of weeks!

I know at km 105 there is a tunnel. I always worry about tunnels, especially this one as I know there is another checkpoint immediately before it. I worry I will be told no pedestrians.

At km 102 I come to another checkpoint.

He stops me. He is not a nice person. I feel this guy is on a power surge.

He asks me for my passport. I hand it to him.

” English I see! ”

“No Irish, but I also speak English.”

” So you are English he repeats. I hold myself back from saying..

So you are Spanish! Should you not be speaking an indian language! The same thing happened to my country.

Twice he asks me for my cell phone and can’t believe I don’t have one.

” Is this the number of your passport ” He barks point out my passport number. They always do this, especially hotel receptionists, it’s a mystery to me.

” Yes”

” How many days is your visa for?”

” 90 ”

I am waiting for him to say something like Colombia normally issues a 30 day visa. I was asked by a nice officer back in Medellin airport how many days I wanted. I said 60 and he gave me 90.

” What do you work at? ”

” I am running around the world. ”

He goes through my possessions. The plastic Zip-lock bag I keep my passport. I wonder what he is looking for.

” Where is your money. ”

” I don’t have much. ”

” Then how do you buy sodas? ”

” I drink water mostly. ”

” So you got no money? ”

” I got an atm card. ”

I think he realizes he has asked too many money questions and tells me to be ‘ tranquilo ‘ or relax!

” Are you married? ” Is the next question. I am thinking about not being let through the tunnel and try to humour him.

” No I say, I am as free as a bird! ” And I make wings with my arms and float around the area!

Next he pulls out a motivation poem I have and asks me what religion I am and am I Catholic.

I tell him it’s not important, that it’s not a prayer it’s a poem and I need to get running.

So then he says.. ” Listo” You are ready.

I nod and run on, a bit faster than I ran in.

I get to the tunnel and stop for a snack at a restaurant. There are a couple of soldiers there but they ignore me.

JUST TO THE RIGHT OF THE TUNNEL IS WHERE I TRIP ON THE RUBBLE

About 20 meters before the entrance another soldier stops me. This time it’s only to ask friendly questions. I run towards the entrance, turn to wave and trip on loose rubble and fly forwards cutting my shoulder and hand, only minor. 

I assure the soldier I am ok. Once inside I see there is a pedestrian path on the left side. But it’s too dark to run on it, there is more light in the center and besides there is no traffic.

Water is gushing from the roof and the walls, it’s a sprinkler system of sorts, I guess for some kind of maintenance.

It’s about 350 meters long. About halfway through I hear strange mutterings and what look like white figures coming towards me! Zombies I think… I am going to be ambushed by Zombies! It turns out it was two soldiers patrolling the tunnel! Imagine patrolling the tunnel and in the dark for there were no lights. Thankfully they didn’t question me, I just ran on, Just as I jumped clear a truck came barrelling towards me.

I run into Dabeiba just before dark, I am shattered. There must be about 5 or 6 hundred people milling around the small street. I feel everyones eyes. There are bicycles and motorcycles everywhere.

Tonight I had a lovely steak dinner from Stuart Guerin, from Figtree, New South Wales, Australia. Thanks to Stuart for his donation to my fund, anyone else that feels like sponsoring a meal and or a hotel night please feel free to use my Paypal account! I will acknowledge all kind donations in this blog :)

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4 Responses to “TUNNEL VISION”

  1. kevin scanlon Says:

    tony, those are 2 great blogs. what a brilliant journey!!! keep safe. kevin

  2. Larry Doherty Says:

    Agree with Kevin. Fantastic stuff. Keep up the spirits, I suspect that you are enjoying Columbia!

  3. Ann Says:

    Great stuff Tony, glad you didn’t hurt yourself too much when you tripped on the rubble. Enjoyed the blog once again Ann :)

  4. Liam Mycroft Says:

    Great to read that youa re now in South America at last – and, with the exception of Argentina, have to agree that Colombian women are very pretty indeed. Hope you enjoyed that steak dinner from Stuart, he’s an old friend of mine from his days down here in Buenos Aires.

    Just to let you know that I have contacted the Hash House Harriers in Lima, to see if anyone there can help you with your baggage when in Peru. I don’t personally know anyone there, but they have circulated the post around their group, and hopefully somebody may be in touch to assist.

    Keep up the running and the wonderful blog – An inspiration to us all.

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...

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