Ten Mile “Run For The Water”

Sunday morning I participated in Austin’s Run For the Water, a 10-mile run incorporating some flat segments along with some fairly hilly sections.  My mission for this run was to feel good throughout the whole run.  Mission accomplished.

I feel good that Hubby and I trained well for this run.  It’s Run #2 of the Distance Challenge and I’m feeling so much better that I’ll be able to make it through the whole challenge.  My heel is feeling good — a little sore after the run, but not too bad.  We both felt bad leaving Sneakers at home this morning.  She knows our running clothes and expected to go along.  When we arrived at the start we noticed a women ready to run with her dog, then we saw another dog runner.  Maybe next year?

When we got home we grabbed our fleece hoodies and went out back to stick our feet in the icy cold pool.  It was a great way to “cool down” our sore feet.  Gonna do that after all my long runs from now on.  The pool is cold enough to work well and it’s way easier than fixing up an ice bucket.

Austin’s Run for the Water is a fund raiser which helps bring clean drinking water to people who need it in Burundi, Africa.  Anyone who runs in Austin has likely heard of Gilbert’s Gazelles, a popular running group in town.  I also vaguely knew that Gilbert was this elite runner who came here to escape his war-torn African country.  Since I didn’t know much else, I decided to look him up.  This is what I learned.

While attending the Kibimba school, Gilbert began running competitively. Running barefoot, he won an 8K race while only a freshman. As a sophomore, he met a man who taught him how to change his running technique by getting his knees up and holding his arms correctly. The coach encouraged him to work hard and try for the Olympics. Gilbert became national champion in the 400 and 800 meters as an 11th grader. As a senior, Gilbert was already an extraordinary runner whose goal was to get a scholarship to an American school, get an education and return home to Burundi.

Fate had another plan for Gilbert.

On October 21, 1993, the centuries-old war between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes erupted in horrific reality one afternoon as Gilbert and his classmates were in school. The Hutu classmates at the Kibimba school, their parents, some teachers and other Hutu tribesmen, forced more than a hundred Tutsi children and teachers into a room where they beat and burned them to death. After nine hours of being buried by the corpses of his beloved friends, and himself on fire, Gilbert used the charred bone of one of his classmates to break through a window. He jumped free of the burning building and ran into the night, on charred feet, surviving one of the most horrible massacres in the long Tutsi-Hutu war. He ran from that horror into a new life.

Now, 18 years later and more than 8,000 miles from Burundi, Gilbert Tuhabonye is a celebrity in the world of running. He went on to graduate college at Abilene Christian University where, despite being covered with scar tissue from his extensive burns, he was a national champion runner. He is now, by all accounts, the most popular running coach in Austin, Texas where he lives with his wife Triphine and two daughters, Emma and Grace.

It’s amazing to me what some people endure and overcome. The money raised at this annual 10 mile run goes to provide the equipment needed to supply clean drinking water in Burundi, Gilbert’s home country.  For every runner in the race today, one person in Burundi will have clean drinking water for life.  Given what Gilbert endured, I guess I can tackle this race next year, and the next, and…


On a side note:  If you have ever cheered on a race from the sidelines I want to say:

#1  THANK YOU.  It’s really great having people yell encouragement to you when you need it most.

#2  If you are drinking mugs of steamy hot coffee, “Spectator Beware”.  I want your coffee — big time.  When I saw the first couple out spectating this morning with their big mugs of coffee, I thought to myself, “If that cop wasn’t standing right there I might go grab their coffee and maybe knock them down to make my escape.”  The second time I saw people with mugs of coffee I wanted to ask them if I could take a big sniff of their coffee as I ran past.  But that sounded too weird even to me.  Today, I behaved myself.  Next time, who knows?


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