The 2008 Comrades Up Run

This was a very surreal trip from the very beginning.
In Atlanta, they finally began boarding our SAA flight to Johannesburg, via Dakar, Senegal. The stop in Senegal was for re-fueling, with only Dakar passengers allowed to get off the plane. After boarding had begun, they made an announcement that there was a problem with the aircraft and they hoped to have it resolved quickly. After another 20 minutes, they resumed boarding. Tom and I boarded and got in our coach seats. Fairly full plane.
The flight to Dakar was uneventful, and I was sleeping when they roused us for our approach. I remember waking, landing, then falling back to sleep. They then performed the customary security sweep. Everyone who had gotten off had left the plane. Then security came through, and everyone had to wake up and speak up for their carry on luggage. They had to make sure no one had left anything on board. Fine with me - and when they were passed me, I went back to sleep. I woke again thinking we had been there a long time - too long for just fuel. Pretty soon, they announced that the craft had mechanical problems, and the flight was being cancelled. That’s just what they said. I was thinking - wait a minute - we’re in Senegal. They can’t cancel it now...
They herded us all off the jet into long lines. They were trying to scan everyone going into the tiny terminal. Eventually they gave up on that and let us all into a number of rooms where we sat where ever we could. We waited for quite a while, and there came an announcement. We were going to be boarding busses and taken to a resort where we would be put up until the plane could be repaired, but, they had to fly in the necessary parts, and a qualified mechanic, from Atlanta. We would be at least a day late meeting our other folks in Joburg - Les Brenner, Mary Wall, Flo, Liz Peeters, and John Holm. They were all coming along to cheer Tom in his green number run - his 10th finish.
Eventually we got on tourist busses - Tom and I were way in the back. No one else on the bus spoke English. There was someone with the driver who spoke and announced in French.
Our trip through the city of Dakar was very enlightening. If you’ve seen photos of starving, penniless, possession-less peasants, out in the streets,, something out of Black Hawk Down in Somalia, then you have seen what we drove through. I was terrified. Once we were out of the more populated area, traveling into the country side, our bus (the last of 3 in the convoy) pulled over and stopped. Someone got out, an ran out into the field. He then topped, and squatted. After a while, he ran back and boarded. In the meantime, the other 2 busses had continued and were nowhere in sight. It also turned out our driver didn’t know where to go. We came to an intersection, and he turned onto a side road, which led down through some hotels, to a dead end, where he had to turn around and go back to the road we were on. We went on farther, what ended up being northwest, along the coast, until we arrived at the correct place.
This was a resort operated by a Frenchman. We got off, and everyone was given glasses of fresh-squeezed fruit juice, asked to pair up with someone else for a room. Tom and I paired up, and were shown to our room, which I recall as more of a bungalow. There was an air conditioner running, which kept the temperature down around 90, and I am certain the humidity was also in the nineties. We strolled to the beach of the Atlantic Ocean and looked around a little, and each took a shower. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to have our checked baggage, and we only had the clothes we were flying in. I had sweat through my shirt when we walked to the beach, and there was no chance of drying anything out. After showers, we went to a very nice outdoor buffet put on by the proprietors. The fresh fruit was really amazing and delicious. We were allowed to stand in a long line to make a phone call. We needed to contact our travel agent to make arrangements for our other American friends to know what to do. Eventually Tom got through, and the agent agreed to meet them at the airport in Mpumalanga, and drive them to Kruger. That was really terrific customer service.

This was a tough run. Tom and I started out together in the D bin.  We were running through the dark city on the expressway and I tripped a little on one of the reflectors in the road lane dividers.  Soon a guy running left and behind me said to mind the cats eyes as they've sent a few fellows home with stitches in their chin. He moved on in front of me as I thanked him and I noticed his bib number looked odd. It was striped green (double green) and said only "BRUCE."  Pretty cool that Bruce Fordyce, 9-time Comrades winner, would run up and caution me in the race. We trotted along behind him for quite a ways.