United Athletes Magazine
– About sports and a healthy lifestyle –

July 20, 2011

Towards the summit of Kilimanjaro
Thomas Kieller

Adventures in Africa – Beyond Mount Kilimanjaro, the cities of Tanzania (Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Stone Town), the vast red-orange fields and the recurrent periods of drought, there is the strong desire to live of the Tanzanian people.

The Tanzanian scenery. Prologue
Adventures in Tanzania

To live completely the cultural difference, I chose to undergo the adventure in October which represents the end of the dry period in Tanzania where the sun hits hard, the land is red-orange and where many trees are stripped of their leaves. I knew that I will discover fully the exoticism of the old continent. The article

The multiple routes of Kilimanjaro. Chapter 1
Preparation for the ascent of Kilimanjaro

I have been warned that when you reach 4,000 meters of altitude, it becomes a serious challenge. The more you climb up, the more the impact of altitude becomes significant because of the increasing rarefaction of oxygen. Well, Mount Kilimanjaro rises at 5,895 meters. Quite enough to annoy the health of the unprepared climber or the one who is reckless regarding altitude sickness. The consequences are real such as respiratory distress, pulmonary oedema and cerebral oedema. The article

François Legrand: The choreography of a climber. Chapter 2
François Legrand – A feeling of freedom on a cliff

Alone on a cliff, François climbs freely in a choreography which pushes him always a little bit higher. With his unique body motion, he executes, with suppleness and strength, skilful movements in order to find his route among the obstacles that the rock presents to him naturally. The immensity of the cliff brings at the same time respect, a challenge and the spirit of surpassing oneself. Honest with himself, it is there that François lives fully his passion as a climber. The interview

On the Sanya Juu Road. Chapter 3
On the Tanzanian road

We left Arusha's downtown towards the east of the country. Under the direction of Sylvester Henry of the Iraqw tribe and of the young Maasai warrior Saning'o Kimani, we took the busy Arusha-Moshi Road from where we could see Mount Meru in the background. While walking the 35 km of this first day, we observed the comings and goings of the workers in the banana, rice and coffee plantations. We also met a brickmaker who was deeply involved in his task. We crossed on our way dressed up families who were going to church in order to assist in the weekly celebration. The article

Carlos Sastre: Focus during a time trial. Chapter 4
Carlos Sastre – Insights of a Tour de France champion

At the beginning of his career, Carlos learned from his teammates the basics of the job while living on the side his ambitions of victory. Patient, methodical and a team player, he did strategic races where the contribution of his teammates was important. Than, his dream of victory in a great tour came through. At the 17th stage of the 2008 Tour de France, between Enbrun and Alpe d'Huez, he broke away from his opponents and he cycled through, in pain, the three major passes of the 210.5 km. The interview

A view of Simba Farm. Chapter 5
A step toward Kilimanjaro

My host, Wim van Leara, mentioned to me that at every great wheat harvesting, there are 400 Tanzanians who are in the fields. Whatever the season, it is obvious that there is no lack of work on this farm where the arms of men and women support greatly the agricultural machinery. We can understand that to earn his living in Tanzania, one must work hard. Since my arrival in this country, I saw the huge contrast between their lifestyle and mine. The article

Henri Richard: Complex situation against the Boston Bruins. Chapter 6
Henri Richard – The foundations of hockey

At the time where the National Hockey League counted only six teams and where rivalry between the cities was possibly at the greatest, Henri excelled on the ice by combining skill and intensity. Quick and good handler of the puck, this center played a determining role in the line up of the Montreal Canadiens which had success in the overall ranking during the 50s, 60s and 70s. Besides, it’s by making dazzling plays in matches against the five other great clubs that number 16 oshowed his talent and combativeness. He was truly a passionate player on the ice. The interview

The duo of climbers (Mtuy and Kieller) on the Shira Plateau. Chapter 7
Always higher

Among the great quantity of greyish dust and volcanic rocks which are on the ground, nature surprises us one more time. Indeed, millions of years ago the Kibo, the last of the three volcanoes which has shaped the Kilimanjaro with its eruptions, left its signature in an unequivocal and artistic manner. A huge black, red and grey block of rock of approximately thirty meters high called Lava Tower completes the landscape. It is there, just in front of us, sculpted really high. The article

Alona Bondarenko: Satisfied by the result. Chapter 8
Alona Bondarenko – Victory in doubles at the Australian Open

Slim, agile and in good shape, Alona moves quite lightly on the court. Determined and with a glimpse of emotion that she shows sometimes, this elegant player fights for every ball. In the end, she offers to the spectators captivating moments. Besides, the Ukrainian lady native from Kryvyi Rih has to her record many awesome results. Currently, her greatest achievement in career happened in 2008 with her sister Kateryna by winning in a dazzling way the Australian Open. This victory in one of the Grand Slam tournaments has given her a lot of confidence and motivation to go on. Now, her aspirations of victories in singles push her towards the higher levels of the rankings. No doubt that Alona will always fight with passion in her matches to reach her objectives in the competitive world of women tennis. The interview

After passing through Western Breach, a porter takes a pause in the crater of Kilimanjaro. Chapter 9
One more breathe in high altitude

The Tanzanians of the mountain have a saying in Swahili concerning the rhythm to follow. They say: "Pole, pole" which can be translated simply by "Slowly, slowly". When someone talks about taking his time in altitude, it means to progress really slowly. Now, imagine the rhythm to follow. Well, it is possibly even slower than you think. Ha ha ha! The article

Steve Young: Simply flying on the field. Chapter 10
Steve Young – With a true fighting spirit

Athletic quarterback, Steve delivered many times exciting passes and made staggering runs to the delight of the San Francisco 49ers supporters. As the seasons went by, he accumulated an impressive 4,239 yards by the ground and he gained 33,124 yards by air. His style was captivating and no one knew what strategy he will use to make the ball move forward, but one thing was sure, the American player always gave everything he got. A quite uncommon playing style in the NFL! Oh yes, Steve was an amazing player to watch. The interview

The team at Arrow Glacier Camp. Chapter 11
At the summit of Africa

After a short rest in the crater, I took the final assault towards the summit with Simon Mtuy. Indeed, my adventure on the Kilimanjaro was almost ending. I felt a bit sad because it was almost over after a week of climbing, but at the same time, I knew I was reaching my final objective. I was enjoying every step which brought me a little bit closer to the summit. The article

Simon Mtuy: A training session on the footsteps of Kilimanjaro. Chapter 12
Simon Mtuy – A great runner on Mount Kilimanjaro

Simon grew up on the flank of Kilimanjaro in a family of ten children. Quickly, he was attracted by this mountain which offers numerous possibilities. He worked hard by transporting the necessary equipment during the ascents. By discovering the rigour of being a porter, he became a cook, after an assistant-guide than a guide, a job that he does with enthusiasm for 20 years. Truly passionate of nature, this Tanzanian adores running outside because he feels free there. The path that he took in the world of running led him slowly from marathon to 160 km event which he covers in one day! Besides, he reached the summit of Kilimanjaro more than 400 times. One must not forget that with his enterprise which organizes many adventures, he likes to share the culture and the natural landscapes of his country. He is really proud of that. He has Tanzania and Kilimanjaro in his heart. The interview

Thomas Kieller: A break on Kilimanjaro. Epilogue
Last words about Tanzania

You may prepare yourself well for a first time in Africa, but I can tell you that the culture, the lifestyle, the sceneries and the weather which are there can change pretty quickly your vision of things. The moment I disembarked from the plane in Tanzania, I knew right away that I was in unknown territories. Around 9 P.M. and in the obscurity of a hot night of September, I arrived at Kilimanjaro airport where the infrastructures are, if I may say, at a minimum. First shock! Besides, I noticed a bit of anxiety on the faces of the people who got off the plane and who were walking on the landing runway in the direction of the air terminals. They had a perplexed look. The article

The chief discuss with some villagers before leading the herd of cattle to water. Extra
Visit of the Maasai people

Oh yes, Tanzania is a country rich in culture, landscapes and incredible sceneries. No doubt that the exoticism of this land exhilarates the traveler. The baobabs with their huge trunks where some reach more than seven meters in diameter, the numerous acacias with their long spines and thorns, the termite mounds of three meters high and the abundant animal life are all unequivocal signs of the African continent. No one is surprised to see antelopes, giraffes or elephants cross the red-orange fields. And in all of these things, the Maasai people live in it on a daily basis. The article

Special thanks
Thanks to Alona Bondarenko, François Legrand, Simon Mtuy, Henri Richard, Carlos Sastre and Steve Young for their participation during the interviews (pictures of the athletes involved). Thanks to Julie Veillette and Onesmo Gabriel for their friendship and their invaluable information while giving me a good view of the Tanzanian culture. Thanks to the guides Sylvester Henry Geay and Saning’o Kimani as well as to the driver Audifus Lemunge for the excellent 60 km walk in the countryside; it was pleasant and colourful! Thanks to the guide Simon Mtuy and the assistant-guide Jacksoni Ezekieli Mtui for their useful advice and for their help, well appreciated, on Kilimanjaro. Thanks to Fidelis Mfumia who showed me the Maasai village named Laiboni and for the three safaris in the foolproof Land Rover; it was always pleasant and enjoyable. Thanks to Tim Leinbach for his collaboration in order to plan well the adventure on the mountain. Thanks to Wim van Leara who showed me the great Simba Farm while describing me in a colourful manner the lifestyle in this country. All these persons contributed to this story by sharing their own life experience and about Tanzania. For all those nice moments, I wish to thank them sincerely.

The wildlife and the arid landscape of the Tarangire National Park.

– The end –