Association of Former WMO Staff, Bulletin 7, November 2007
The chaser and the chased
By Naginder Sehmi
Rudi’s adventures in the Masai Mara (published in the same issue of the Bulletin) fuelled yet more exchanges between Amicale chatternauts. Sushel Unninayar was quick to reassure Rudi that he had never been in danger of being eaten by a lion because animals do not enjoy human flesh – too many toxins. In other words, he was telling us that animals, unlike humans, do not pursue the uneatable! This led me to relate my own adventures during the last part of the Geneva Marathon in May 2007. I ran the half Marathon ten minutes slower than last year. And yet I definitely felt that I was being chased, perhaps by a lioness.
‘Premonition’? I can’t find another word –‘postmonition’. At the 14km mark I was struggling through the Jardin Anglais when a girl or a young woman started to pace with me. We did some yo-yo for a kilometre and she fell back. I passed a number of others but many more overtook me. It was hot and I looked for shady parts of the route. Roads slope to the right. To save my knees, I looked for flat surfaces often shifting from the road to the footpath. Wherever I ran I felt someone chasing me- soft padded silently. I dare not look back lest I got distracted; just as an escaping prey would not.
Our number badge (dossard) carried our name as well so that public could cheer us up personally. The name shouted after mine was always the same: Muriel. In the bends of Perle du Lac garden I realised that the “lioness” has been chasing me for an hour holding for the kill. In order to save myself I “accelerated” to the finish and she finished a few steps behind me. Overall she is listed just after me. I turned round to face her. ‘You are my guardian angel’, I exclaimed. ‘Thank you for chasing me’. She responded, ‘I thought you might be upset that I was sticking to you. I was worried that you might stop at the climb under the bridge and that would have killed me’. The chaser and the chased – I let you picture: we made the hottest hug imaginable. Two unknowns. This happens in sports (only). Geneva is not Masai Mara.
“My friend, Naginder,” wrote Arthur in the Amicale chat. “I like the story and the ending – and I mean that in all seriousness. But, on a less serious note, and as a non-runner, I would request some clarification as to the meaning of “We did some yo-yo for a kilometre and she fell back”.
Good regular runners can maintain a steady pace uphill or downhill. I usually slow down uphill and find it physically difficult to hold back on downhill. So I tried to explain this to Arthur.
“’You are like a yo-yo’, this is the remark another runner had made in a previous race a long time ago when I overtook him on the down hill and he would overtake me on the up hill. This was in the Bernex area with many ups and downs. I’m sure you know that yo-yo is a string and two discs toy but it runs up and down. Experts can throw it in any direction!”
Sushel put himself in the shoes of the one who was being chased in Geneva, and wrote: “Quite an amazing narrative. I enjoyed reading the trials and tribulations of THE ‘Run.’ I am also highly impressed with your running skills. I need some advice on this matter. But, let me come to the point:
Chased by lioness at the 14km mark?: I might have reached that mark too if I were chased/followed by the soft padded feet you describe. But, we (us global we) allow you poetic license here. But, this was not a lioness in the Masai Mara. That would have been a multi-pronged strategic hunt with not one but many lionesses–all plotting your demise. The final (actual) chase would have been very short, and you may not be writing this e-mail. For that, I am glad–else who else would be describing a marathon run in these terms for us (the rest of the world) who have forgotten how to run at all.
The chaser and the chased?: Fascinating. Hottest hug; Two unknowns? I dare not ask a question about this.
PS: A word of sagely advice: Do not try this in Africa. If you hear soft padded feet behind you, climb a tree as fast as you can. Running will not save you. But there are no trees? Moreover, you are trained for running, not climbing trees. But, lacking trees, what would your next strategy have been? WE (us global we) are most curious.” End of Sushel’s comments.