Gruelling Desert Bush Walk not for the fainthearted

When hearing about the Desert Bush Walk last year, this young lady had second thoughts because sport activities have never got her attention. She registered her name promising to participate but she did not fulfill her promises as she failed to catch the bus which was leaving at 4:30 am in Gaborone. 

It was a kind of a relief for me, because in the first place I did not want to go. This year I just decided to create time out of my busy Saturday schedule to participate in this crowd pulling event, my intention was to just go and watch people do the excersise. Friday 28 July was the longest day of the year for me because since morning I  was unsettled in my thoughts, I was wandering about in the Diamond Town trying to visualise the track, the starting point, the whole terrain,  the mood of the walkers and  the whole Jwaneng residents. Well, the sun never changes pace, my long waiting period ceased, by 3 am I was already awake, anxiety could not allow my mind to rest. Within 30 minutes I was already geared up for the walk, the bus left at 4:39.  The road to Jwaneng seemed to be too long because it was very dark and so cold. Everyone inside was very quiet, This lady and  her colleague had a little chat but within some few minutes they slept off. They woke up in Polokwe when the bus stopped. The other bus in front was struggling to climb the steep, curvey slope, so we had to wait for it to restart and move.

The bus arrived in Jwaneng at 7 oclock, the crowd was far beyond her imagination, she thought there were going to be about 500 people but there were more than 2000 participants. The whole place was decorated with banners and gazebos of various organisations and companies which were sponsoring the event. The event attracted participants from neighbouring countries such as Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa.  Everyone was welcomed by the sweet melody of the music, as she took a look around she saw people lined up warming up with the aerobics exercise, she decided that she would not just watch, but wanted to have a story to tell. 

The last aerobics session she did was in 2014, so this was a good opportunity for her.   At exactly 7:30 the instructor gave the green light and everyone took off, people were so crowded on one lane road, it was so sandy. After the first 100 steps those with low stamina were announcing themselves, they felt like they have walked for 2 hours climbing a hill, the sand was an embargo which did not want people to go anywhere. The tracks formed tiny dunes, they could be likened to the vast number of small anthills. When looking far ahead, over the shrubs appeared the heads of people, moving in a small track like the ants crawling to the hole. It was a long chain because track was very narrow to contain more than 2000 people walking together.

This walk was categorised according to distance, the 10 kilometer and 30 kilometer but the first 5 kilometer was the same track. She  and her colleagues were very surprised to hear that their stickers are for 30 kilometers.They could not take it as they were already exhausted at 5 kilometers  so they could not take it five times. Well, they ignored the stickers and turned left, taking the shortest route back to the starting point. There were only two roads, one going east and another west, we faced eastwards and continued walking. After the water and snack stop, people looked more energised,the journey became more interesting, even the road was now growing wider.  Reaching the 7.5kilometer mark one  could hardly see someone at close range, people were scattered, the road was now growing wider and most people were quiet. I passed two ladies, I greeted them and showed them the distance we have travelled so far. 

Another one screamed, “No they want to kill us”. I burst into laughter, she said, “no they want to finish us we have travelled a long way are we not reaching the finishing point?” she said. In my heart I agreed with her that they want to finish us, it was only hope that kept me going now, all I wanted was just to see myself at the finishing point. I increased speed because the more I slowed down, the more I got exhausted and felt the heat of the sun. 

This lady’s questions were now answered, she had the experience and she saw the mood of everyone, she now had mixed feelings, excited because she was walking in the bush, something that she really loves, hurt because she was very tired and the road seemed to be stretching longer and longer.It was not only getting longer but the sand kept on increasing. It was now very thick and very soft. She stopped and took a look at it, it was not sand but silt, it was very fine. When you step on it, it covers almost your whole feet. 

After joining the road that we started on she could see the finishing point, she thought of running but the sand would not allow. She tried to divert from the main road, the shrubs were so thick, She couldn’t get through, She looked at the back, so many people were exhausted and some of them looked so hurt, they were really exhausted, others looked more energised and relieved. She could tell they have surrendered complaining and had now gained confidence to face the giant, if they could only reach the finishing point. At 11:05, young lady and her colleague reached the finishing point. They found two of their colleagues already resting, they were the first Botswana Guardian team members to arrive.Everyone was awarded the finishers medal. She could not wait for another two and half hours to get to Gaborone, all she wanted was to take a bath and sleep, but this was only wishes as they had to wait for everyone to arrive. At 3 pm the bus arrived and we headed back to Gaborone at 4pm.

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