A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Kabul Marathon

"On your mark...get run for it -- this is Afghanistan, for Pete's sake!"

Alright, first the full disclosure: I only did the Half.  Given the option of running a bizarre 1.7 mile "loop" -- which included a tunnel and its steep ramps twice in each one -- eight times or 16, I chose 8.  Setting aside all of the other excuses, I simply need to see some different scenery over the course of 26.2 miles than the embassy compound over and over.  It happened on a whim, the way these things always do for me.  I saw a camp-wide alert about something called the Kabul Marathon, learned that it was only the 2nd annual and that it was accredited by some running organization somewhere, learned that there was the option of the half marathon (or even the relay of 4 runners doing a quarter each), and signed up four days prior to it.  No running had been done by me here yet other than a half-hour on a treadmill one day -- I hate treadmills and avoid them like the plague, but my base is too damn small for running.  So on the very bright and sunny morning of what would be Memorial Day Weekend in the States, we assembled, checked in our weapons, and got ready to run.

(These photos are all by volunteers from the staff at the embassy.)
Freakin' Navy...

Not only did volunteers take these shots -- we were actually instructed to leave our cameras at home, or I would have snapped away all day too -- but they staffed everything, from keeping times to cutting up oranges to manning water/gatorade stations.  Cool of them to do so, on what was a pretty hot morning for Kabul.  My sunburn is actually still flaking off (that spreading scalp area doesn't see a lot of sunlight normally).  Just look at that green-on-green stud go!  Wait, is he actually dying, or does it just look that way?

Enough of that guy.  The following are shots of some other runners, framed by the most ridiculously steep ramps you could ever include in a road's not the grind up the incline that gets you, though that did suck, but the "Holy crap, I'm not going to be able to turn on a dime when I get to the bottom!" speed you build up on the descent.  Avoiding the opposing direction runners in a single-lane-each-way narrow track while banking a turn and feeling your patella bounce around within your knee is an experience you don't wish to replicate, much less knock out 16 times over 13.1 miles.

Do you think the photographers posted near the tunnels must have been male, by any chance?  I'm just guessing.  Anyway, the morning was a wonderful break from routine even if it did leave some with bad blisters, wobbly knees and tight hamstrings that won't let up.  Old age is a killer.  But damn that medal is sweet...they even put the Afghan year on it, 1389.  The dude holding it looks pretty happy he survived it.  After that shot is one of my friend Mariah passing in front of the U.S. Embassy itself.

Considering the way I struggled just two months earlier in Boulder's Spring Half (my first race of that length in four years), I'm pretty happy to have knocked 3 minutes off that time.  I was happier still to stick my feet in some actual grass and hang out in a t-shirt and shorts for a couple of hours afterward before deployed 'normalcy' resumed.  By the way, that is the only grass that looks that way in this entire country...and those blue skies happen about one day a week; the others are far more don't start thinking we've got it even better than we do in Kabul!  Now if only I could make a regular practice of this "running" activity without falling to that even possible?  (Struggling in Boulder below...)


Blogger Francois said...

Run Forest! Run!

June 4, 2010 at 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Slappy said...

Well done, Major. I'll even let the "freakin Navy" comment go, for now ... altho suffice to say, your pic from Boulder is still the coolest of the lot, thanks to that sweet B lid on yer noggin ;)

June 4, 2010 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Awww, c'mon now...I say "freakin' Navy" with a smile. I stick up for my sister service all the time, and would be nowhere without them. Well, I'd literally have no problem being here in landlocked Afghanistan, but you get the point. Anchors aweigh, laddy!

June 5, 2010 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Frank, I put this on the tri-photo I ordered from the Boulder Half: DAN "FORREST GUMP" HUVANE. So I'm way ahead of ya!

June 5, 2010 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger John Cocktoasten said...

"so don't start thinking we've got it even better than we do in Kabul!"

They said on the news that you get up around 11:00, play 18, then sip Mai-Tais by the pool before the playmates show up and give everyone massages...

Seriously though, keep up the good work. Flyers brought the series to 2-2. Some good hockey to watch if you are able to.

June 5, 2010 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger abby suzanne said...

I like the snarky homeless-style signage. No neon posterboard in Afghanistan?

June 6, 2010 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Puertorican girl in Brussels said...

Next time wear silkies!

June 7, 2010 at 3:27 AM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

No neon in this land, far as I can tell. And no running in silkies! Do you know how violated by leering locals I am in those?? Troublemakers.

June 7, 2010 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Vernon Maher said...

Those ramps look tough on the knees.

Thanks for Serving

Semper Fi!
Vernon Maher

June 9, 2010 at 2:31 PM  

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