Journalist defies odds, pain to complete 100-day run in Lagos

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Multi-talented journalist and runner Joe Agbro punched the air as he breezed into the expansive football pitch of Ladoje Primary School, off Oko-Oba Road, Agege-Lagos, penultimate Thursday, to mark his 100th day of road race which started on May 1, 2019.

The writer and entertainment correspondent with The Nation newspapers had been running for 100 days, every day around Agege, Ifako, Ojokoro and Ikeja axis. He starts off early at six every morning to the sight and sound of the megacity and along the way captures the essential ingredients that mark a metropolis like Lagos.

Timing himself with two reliable running apps, Joe, who also draws for a hobby, logs an average 7km daily and by the time he completed his 100 days run on August 8, 2019, he had logged 773km – a distance that is equal to distance from Lagos to Kaduna.

Joe could have run on for more days gauging by his excitement and flexibility on the final day as he cruised on to do two more laps round the pitch feeling light hearted and animated. He laughed and shared bantam with his friends and colleagues waiting to celebrate this landmark with him. The runs started like a New Year resolution for Joe.

“On the 31st of December, 2018, I told myself that I would love to stop soft drink. Before then, I used to take a lot of soft drinks. I just made the resolve and took my last soft drink on that day. Day one, day two, 30 days, 40 days and on to 100 days.

“Thereafter, I shared my experience on Facebook and the kind of response that I got was that a lot of people are battling with things like this. They want to start something or stop something, so, I just resolved that I would do other things. So, I picked three things: abstain from alcohol for 100 days, run every day for 100 days and try to reach the 500 km mark and, thirdly, that I will draw every day.” Joe couldn’t keep up with the drawing part but kept on running even at difficult moment and time. The running also helped him to abstain from alcohol.

“The whole idea is to text my resolve, my discipline, my dedication. It is so easy to start something but seeing it to the end is not easy. So, I decided to make my run more exciting by adding extras to it. I took pictures of things or places I covered during my runs. I always took pictures of myself and log or time my run. I varied my routes to view different sites of Lagos, then, shared them on social media.”

That decision saved the project and inspired people.

“When I started sharing the runs on social media, people started responding and many were saying they wanted to run like me, could I join them up? In-fact three of them actually started running. So, at first it was for me, but later it started consuming me and I felt I had to do it not just for myself but for others. In my own little way, I could use it to tell others that many things are achievable if you give it time. It may be difficult in the beginning but with perseverance and patience you will see it through.

“There were a couple of times I could have quit. There were days I got up from the wrong side of the bed or that I slept late because most of the runs are early in the morning. However, I had to run because people were looking out for me.” Once Joe pulled a muscle but kept on running in pain inspired by kind words from a cripple (polio sufferer).

“There was a day I was grateful about. A crippled friend popularly called T.M (Team Manager) in my neighbourhood met me as I rounded off my run that morning and said: ‘Mr Joe, I would have loved to run with you but for my leg.’ I felt bad. This is someone that wanted to run but could not because of his nature. I thought of what could stop me, maybe if I lose my leg and that made me resolve to go on.

“Some days later, precisely on the May 28, 2019, I pulled a muscle. I was enjoying my run and coasting and powering up and tore a muscle. That didn’t stop me. I took some pain reliever and for about five days I was running in pain and massaging it. The only thing that could have stopped me is if I lost my leg.”

For Joe, the gains are enormous. He has ridden himself of addiction to carbonated and alcoholic drinks. He said his health has improved tremendously and his insomnia cured.

“Often time I hardly get home until 10, 10.30 pm and I’ve also been suffering insomnia. The earliest time I sleep is 12.30 AM and I wake up about 3.30 AM. However, since I started doing this run, I have been able to add an extra two hours to my sleep and I eat more. Generally, I can say my health has improved.”

The sight of Lagos he has also seen and been able to see Lagos and people in a broader and insightful way. “One thing I always notice is the school buses and the children inside.

I feel for school children because when I get up by 6am, I see their buses everywhere. I see some of them already on their routes; some take okada (motorcycle) or keke (tricycle) as early as that time. The buses are everywhere. The children are sleeping in the buses. It pains me so much because that is not how I grew up.

“There is so much energy in the town. By 6am you find the cart pushers, tomatoes sellers, people fetching water at public taps, and workers struggling to get to work. Then, you have bad roads everywhere and traffic hold up starting that early. When it rains, there is so much rubbish on the road and there is a kind of jungle Lagos takes with motorist taking one way. There is disregard for joggers like me. It’s an interesting sight.”

So what’s the next plan?

“I would like to do something scarier, maybe run for 365 days; a whole year. I’m motivated when people scream wow! Are you crazy? Maybe run round Lagos State, run round the country or run round the world. Enjoy my life. This life is too short. Anything that keeps you afloat, just do it.”

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