Sunday was not a usual day here in Buea, the whole town was out to spectate the biggest event of the year - The Mount Cameroon Race of Hope. It is a grueling race to the summit and back, about 16 miles. The race has been going every year since 1973, the organiser's have changed a few times so this was the 12th Race of Hope. There are a few different categories. The relay and major race goes to the summit and back.the juniors (the youngest of which was 11) end at hut 1 and the veterans (walkers) go to upper farms, which is a prison just above the town. The winner takes 3 million CFA, 2nd takes 2 million and the 3rd, 3 million (a million CFA is a little under £1000).
We got up at 6:30 to watch the ascent, many of the participants already looked shattered and they had along way to go.
Then after some breakfast and a trip back home to shower we based ourselves at Figaro to watch the descent. The first people we saw pass were a relay team. Then came the first man, completing the race in 4 hours 32. We were able to watch the runners start their descent on the TV then go out to watch them pass. Due to the delay we also say many of them arrive in the stadium also on the TV. There was great encouragement in the bar for Jospeh Shey Kongnyuy who came fourth crawling over the finish line on his buttocks after his legs gave way with 75m to go. Pictures can been seen on The Post news site. He was given 500 000 CFA for pure endurance and good for him I say what determination he had. We gave him a great cheer as we saw him cross the line.
The winner of the women's race came in soon after. In sixth place came the Queen of the Mountain, Sarah Liengu Etonge who has run the race 12 times and won 7. She says she does it by wearing jelly shoes, it is amazing to look at the foor wear most people are racing in!. She has 7 children, two of which also participated.
There were few whites competing we saw a few on the way up and only 2 come down. The first white to cross the line came 92nd. More pictures on the Post News site.
I really admire all these people for taking part, we have been told it will take at least 2 days to climb the mountain, I do not know how they do it in under 5 hours. Going to hut 1 was pretty difficult.