It’s probably no surprise that when we have the opportunity to run in a location outside of our own zip code, whether it be domestic or international, it is often memorable. A run filled with new sights, sounds, textures, weather, etc., etc., etc., usually always beats the same-ol-same-ol. However, I have also found these runs can often turn into really great runs as well. The kind of run that you’ve been needing and would like to feel every time out. Myanmar was no exception.
|From hotel, part of route along dusty roadside|
Running in Yangon felt extremely secure and yet borderline risky at the same time. Most mornings I began before sunrise and started through a three quarter mile of neighborhood alleys, so it was fairly dark. But in the darkness were the sounds and smells of Myanmar waking. The religious chants across loud speakers, the roosters crowing, the sweeping of dirt floors, the starting of fires for cooking and tea, and the pitter-patter of four legged friends, who I really hoped were more in the mood to run alongside and not chase. After a few days, this scene (minus the chanting) became especially comforting and enjoyable.
|Similar neighborhood path for start of run|
Regarding the people along this route, I think it’s good to know the history. Myanmar has been a country closed off to much of the world for many years. As a military government for decades, until this past fall when free elections brought new leadership, they have been very suspicious and hostile to foreign governments. You might recall a major natural disaster some ten years ago in which global relief had many issues with being allowed into the country to provide help. So, because of this history, to many residents of these neighborhoods, foreign visitors are definitely the exception and not the norm. I’m sure that visitors running through their streets in the early morning are even more the exception!
|Final run was out road much like this; fewer dogs, more oxen|
Oh, and 60 degrees may have been pleasant for our team of three traveling from North Carolina, but for the locals it was frigid. So imagine me, shorts and t-shirt, running past hundreds of walkers and morning commuters who are all wearing toboggan hats, multiple jackets, gloves, and long pants.
In short, the street smells were strong, the traffic was highly unpredictable, and the animals were ever-present. But guess what? These were three of the best runs I have probably had in over six months. Thank you Yangon for the motivation and the hospitality. It was a wonderful week in every aspect. I found the people of Myanmar especially kind and friendly. And I found, once again, the reminder that God’s creation is equal parts East and West, and that his favor for all nations, languages, tribes, and tongues, is not biased. It’s a reminder in the spirit of the old saying, “Never judge a man till you
|Most important activity in Myanmar was working with these outstanding leaders|
|Nine mile route; straight, flat, but extremely varied segments|