The "Undefeatables"

Posted by martin.parnell |

Quest completed:

  • Comrades Quest 87

  • The Comrades Marathon (87km)
  • Sunday May 29th 2011
  • Durban to Pietermaritzburg
  • South Africa
  • Finish Time (target): 11hrs 59 mins 59secs
  • Finish Time (actual): 11hrs 51min 23sec
  • Course: Stats and map
  • Video: Comrades in 8 1/2 mins

Only two days left of our visit to Benin. Robert, Caroline, Heather and myself had made a number of visits to schools that used the Right To Play programs but today's visit would be special. We made our way through the crazy Cotonuo morning traffic and arrived at the Vedoko school for the deaf. The school has 120 students and three teachers. Classrooms are on either side of a yard and at one end is an outdoor kitchen. Just as we arrived, the heavens opened and it started to pelt down. This is the rainy season, but we had been pretty lucky so far. We were welcomed to the school by the head teacher and asked to present ourselves. Heather knows signing and she explained she was a bobsleigher and rugby player. Caroline demonstrated hockey and the teacher explained ice. I took advantage of the black board and drew a stickman and wrote 10,500kms next to him. I then drew a picture of Africa and a stickman on a bike and showed my cycle trip route.

Before the game began I headed out of the classroom. The rain hadn't eased up and part of the yard was flooding. Down the street I could see water creeping into the tin roofed shops. There's no real drainage and the water carves a path along the road. Back in the class it was time for some Right To Play games. All the kids wore Right To Play shirts and the first activity was a threelegged race. My partner was a grade 1 boy, Joseph. I didn't want to step on his toes so we went slowly. After the game the teacher signed to the kids the importance of working together. We did balance games and team games. The kids couldn't get enough of these activities. Soon it was time to go and another farewell.

Saturday was a big day for me. It was my last day in Benin but also, I was scheduled to lead a marathon for a group of kids. The furthest I had run in Benin so far was 2.6km so doing a marathon just a week after the Comrades and in 30C and 90% humidity seemed a bit much. Arriving at the CEG1 sports field, I spotted 25 runners and they all had numbers on. I was introduced to all the children and youths. Their leader was Parfaite. She was 26 years old and was also a member of the Benin Soccer team. I asked about the marathon and she said that 30min running would work. Phew! We ran around the sports field a couple of times then headed out on the streets of Cotonou. This was a challenge. The motorist and motor cyclist aren't used to runners, especially girls and there were a few shouts and yells at us. After 30 minutes we'd covered 4.5km and everyone was back safe. Parfaite said that the group wanted to start a running club so I asked her what it would be named. She went over to the group and 5 minutes later returned. She said they wanted to be called the "Undefeatables".

After spending 5 days in Benin that pretty much summed up my feelings. These kids just want to be given a chance. They don't want charity, pity or gimme's. They just want encouragement and a helping hand. Right To Play is doing it's bit and so can we.

Dr Randolph Randolph's book of animal jokes

Q: What's another name for a clever duck?
A: A wise quacker!

Quote of the Day

"You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get."

Michael Phelps

Running with the "Undefeatables" in Cotonou, Benin

The Undefeatables





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