Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mad Dogs and California Women

Jog Dogs
Jog Dogs, originally uploaded by Miloflamingo.
Tracy is a runner. I'm not. I let my horses do the running for me, and while she loves riding as well, she also really loves getting down and gritty and running in the sand herself. As she's correctly pointed out, it gives her a great perspective on what the horses go through working in the desert. When we went out to take some photos of her running in the desert, the dogs thought that this was a great idea and piled into the car to be able to go out and join her.

Koheila the Dalmation naturally ran with Tracy. Koheila, despite the fact that she has only three functional legs and one of the others tends to lose track of those on the lefthand side of her body, is also a runner. Morgana, the Dane puppy chased along for a while and then sat down to watch with Terra and Geo, who are both old enough at seven and six years old to know better than wear themselves out in the sun. Misu, one of my smallest Rat Terriers, thinks that the sun sets on Koheila's head and had to chase after The Spotted One and Tracy. Frankly, they were all exhausted in fairly short order in the heat of the summer desert.

Cross country running is not one of the things that my neighbours really understand. Most of them don't own cars, so if they go anywhere it's either on foot, by donkey, or hitchhiking. Most of them walk miles daily just going to their fields and returning, not to mention the walking involved in the work in the fields. Why anyone would go out and run in the desert is an utter mystery to them. But they give Tracy the privacy that she loves for her running, and this is the important point.

Most days Tracy slips a pair of long jogging pants on over her shorts and heads for the mango grove that gives us access to the desert. When she is sufficiently out in the desert to be alone, she slips off the long pants to run the hills along the wadi that heads into the plateau. After she's sufficiently run out, she heads back to the mango grove and, after putting the long pants back on, she comes home. Sometimes the kids on the road by the canal race her back to our gate and she plays along with them good naturedly.

Her behaviour is most decidedly odd by my neighbours' standards, but she's never been bothered by anyone. I suspect that in part this is because she is very respectful of their ideas in never going out on the street in her running shorts. I also suspect that there is a real respect for the kind of lunatic who can run up and down hills of sand in the desert for an hours or so. I know that the fact that she is a foreigner gives her a certain amount of leeway that an Egyptian might not be given, but for whatever reason her insanity is tolerated, we appreciate it.

I remember a male runner who used to train in the desert in our area. We would see him working his way across the dunes and up and down the hills between Sakkara Country Club and Abu Sir. He was always regarded with a certain mixture of humour and awe. No one ever bothered him and his solitary task was always respected. Maybe that's a lesson to us that if we attempt something sufficiently difficult and bizarre, the rest of the world will be content to sit back and watch in wonder.


ringgit said...

Typically in the East (I stay in Malaysia), we do not bother anyone who wants to run - be it in the city or in the fields - under the hot sun. However, if it is a Westerner, people would whispered or mumbled to themselves, "crazy Westerner...". It's harmless, I know, but I always wonder what the runners would do if they knew that people called them crazy?

SueB said...

"Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun."

Anonymous said...

Enjoyable post! And the idea of running in the desert seems like an idea that begs to be considered as a lunatic act. Nevertheless, this is the one fact that I admire about people of our 'westernized' society. Hehe...they simple do whatever they want to do...no explanations necessary. Gotta love that photo too!