Running in Kampala

One question I was asked a lot while we were back in the States was “Are you running a lot in Uganda?” Friends asked because this was one of my hobbies in the US and a source of physical and mental renewal.  Relatives ask because one’s standing in my mom’s family depends upon one’s answer to that question.

My answer is “yes, but not as much as I did in the US.”  This is partly because the same road hazards I described in my bike post apply to running, making simple pedestrian journeys a magnificent pain in the ass.  Also, the rains are rather unpredictable.  Sometimes the rain will begin in earnest just as I’m about to set out, and sometimes clouds will hover menacingly and discouragingly for hours and ultimately produce nothing.

Fortunately, we live near Kololo Hill, a lofty perch in Kampala upon which many embassies, Ambassadors’ residences and UN agencies can be found, and which is therefore a rather low-traffic area.  The low traffic, combined with the caliber of the residents also means that the roads are well-maintained.

Before going further, it is important to note a central truth about running in Kampala.

One way or another, your lungs will suffer!

Although this truth is inescapable, you can choose your form of punishment.  They are thusly:

1. Run in the low-lying areas where there is much more traffic and thus, much more dust and pollution

2. Run in the higher, less trafficked areas where your lungs won’t be exposed to as much pollution, but will be punished by steep climbs at greater altitudes.

I choose the latter fate.  As an example, here’s the elevation profile for my standard SHORT run, as calculated by MapMyRun

For some of you, though, this isn’t enough visual information.  So, for kicks and giggles, I decided to bring my camera along with me on my run today, to give you an idea of where I run here. Enjoy!

The Initial Headache: Shortly after setting out, I have to cross Kira Rd. Waiting for an opportune moment to do this can take some time

 

BUT! Only half a mile later, I'm running along the much quieter Kanjokya Road, near the base of Kololo Hill

The Decisive Turn! Kanjokya Road ends in Prince Charles Drive. Turning right means sloping upward.

Prince Charles Drive is full of trickery. Unlike some roads on Kololo HIll which reveal at first glance how difficult they are to climb, Prince Charles keeps winding, keeping you guessing how much further you have to climb.

It feels so isolated further up the hill that North Korea feels comfortable putting their embassy here

On the descent down the other side of Kololo Hill, the city centre comes into view

After descending so much, it's almost disheartening to see a downhill like this. For in running, whatever goes down, must come back up. (Impala Avenue)

KIndly recall that humans are members of Kingdom Animalia. I humbly submit, therefore, that this is an instance of animal cruelty (Looking up, and dreading Ibis Vale)

Phew! It's all down hill from here. (Looking down Sturrock Road)

Hitting the home stretch! The road leading to our apartment

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