Discover more from Stories from the Horn
The Gift of Running
oh the places you will go
Before I jump into this letter, check out this video created by high school students, including our friend’s daughter, in Djibouti. Their sports team is traveling to France and every team made a video representing their country. The video with the most views over the next 5 days wins, so help Team Lycée Djibouti win by checking it out!
I started running in Djibouti, in 2008. I thought it was horrible. But I kept on because I loved spending time with the women who ran with me and now I look back and can hardly believe what running has brought to my life.
When we travel I love to wake up early the first morning in Athen or Paris or Istanbul or Penang, Bangkok or Doha or Zurich, and go for a run. The early morning sounds and smells of foreign cities are delightful and fascinating.
But my home running turf has been Djibouti and even though running in Djibouti is hard because of the heat, I am thankful to have become a runner here. I feel like if I can run for fifteen years here, I can do anything.
I got my first paid writing work thanks to running, have run 4 marathons in three countries, raced more than a dozen other events from New York City to Arta Town. I’ve been on the cover a magazine(!), been involved in a Runners World and Saucony international film project, peed in a porta-potty next to Shalane Flannagen, met Haile Gebrselassie, trained on the same track as Ayanleh Suleiman (he would cheer me on as he lapped me, and lapped me again, and again), traveled with the Djiboutian team to Ethiopia, and so much more.
I’ve won a few trophies but let me let you in on a big secret: it is easy to win trophies in races no one else is running.
You might not be interested in these photos, this is kind of a personal message. But, I had fun skimming back, and my heart filled up.
Before my first-ever official race, Grand Bara 15k, with my inspirations
Minnesota 5k with my son
Signing people up for the 5k Fun Run we sponsored in 2008
In Ethiopia at the Pan Africa games with the Djiboutian and Somalia teams. This is Samia, you can read her tragic story here.
Marathon #1, Twin Cities, Minnesota. My cousin passed me water and ran for a few meters with me.
Marathon #2 - Fargo, North Dakota, PR!
Marathon #3 - Hargeisa, Somaliland. I won second place and took so long to finish my trophy was stolen and the stadium shut down. I was vomiting from mile 12 on. But I did it!
Marathon #4 - Djibouti City, Djibouti. I made it up and ran alone, so that I can say I’ve run a marathon in every country where I’ve lived
Arta Town trail race.
My first trophy win, second official race and another example of my trophy winning technique. I was literally the last person to cross the finish line but was third woman. Apologies to the elite runners who had to wait a whole extra hour for me! I had no idea there would be trophies.
My first triathlon, with my brother
Pandemic Grand Bara. I have run this event six times.
Some of my extreme weather experiences
Henry Wanyoike came and spoke at our school, he is one of the world’s fastest visually impaired marathoners
Running with sisters
More siblings…they came to New York to celebrate the running film premiere. I love these people
The names of all who supported my Somaliland Marathon run and education fundraiser. We sent two students to four full years of university!
I guess my daughter wasn’t impressed with her mom on the cover
Girls Run 2. These women are incredible
Hey voila, a decade and a half of running. What will the next 15 years bring? I already have one race on the calendar for in Minnesota.
What thing did you start doing that surprised yourself, and what did you gain?
Thanks for reading Stories from the Horn! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.