November 30, 2017
The weather gods who were with us yesterday, deserted us today. It was perfect beach weather with not a cloud in the sky, but it made for pretty brutal running conditions.
We started by running through more villages and farms, and before long were in the middle of nowhere. The first 20 or so kilometres were very pleasant, but all that did was lull us into a false sense of security as to what was about to come.
After 25km we came to a broken bridge and Bota declared that we would have to change the route. To be honest, it was surprising that we had done almost 175km without having to make any changes so far, so it was always going to happen at some stage. The only alternative route we had was to run 10km along Highway 6, the main road that links Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. For those who are struggling to picture what this was like, think of running around the M25 on the hottest day ever recorded in the UK. It was hell!!
While “highway running” I noticed a couple of things. Firstly, there seems to be absolutely no ‘right of way’ in Cambodian road laws. From what I can tell, it’s the bravest and the biggest who normally win. This also probably explains my second observation – the rather bizarre fact that the lorry drivers wear motorcycle helmets while driving!
As we were running down the motorway, we passed a school that was breaking up for the day, hundreds of students poured onto the main road on their bicycles, some with two or even three people on. As I was chatting to Bota about how dangerous it was, a kid on a scooter lost control and went flying off the highway and over the verge. Thankfully he was extremely lucky and escaped with scrapes and bruises. Bota explained to me that all Cambodians have lost family members on the roads, both his parents were killed in a traffic accident when he was 12 years old. As a father it certainly made me think about my girls.
Thankfully nothing else eventful happened, and the 10kms of highway dragged on for what felt like hours. My music was my real saviour. I would task anyone who is having a bad day to put on ‘Mr Brightside’ by The Killers, destiny was certainly calling me along route 6!
Finally, we turned off and meandered our way along the river to Kampong Thom. As we went through the last few villages, it seemed even the dogs could see how much pain we were in, as they very sensibly didn’t come anywhere near us.
The Sambor Village Hotel where we are staying tonight is lovely and a great spot to recuperate in the place that they call ‘the heart of Cambodia’.
As I write this I am having the most fantastic massage from a blind guy, the hotel where we are staying helps to train them, so they have a source of income. He is great and is working wonders on my battered legs.
I am definitely feeling nervous about Day 5. The end is starting to get closer but there is still a long way to go, and another day similar to today will be really tough to get through.
The huge bonus, however, is that when we finish tomorrow, Mark and I will have Erin and Kirst waiting for us, which will be amazing.