The Kandahar Marathon: Week Forty-Five

The Kandahar Marathon: Week Forty-Five

“Afghan supreme leader orders full implementation of Sharia law.”

                                                            `                                               ~The Guardian 11/14/22

Afghanistan was, at long last, in the news again this week, but only kind of, and mostly for the wrong reasons. After failing to produce a “red wave” in the midterm elections, Republicans have reportedly set the botched American withdrawal from Afghanistan as part of their agenda for the presidential race. Fair enough, and though I hope nobody will forget that it was Trumpster Fire who set all of that in motion, Biden certainly shares blame for how poorly it was executed. Regardless, wouldn’t it be nice if the people of Afghanistan could be something other than a pawn in our tiresome political games? Sigh.

Other ways that the Afghans appeared in the news this week, and these you had to look for: the Taliban have barred Afghan women from gyms. Also, a report came out detailing that the US Military is responsible for the deaths of 64 children in Afghanistan during our occupation. Oh, and remember the Russians? The Afghans do, too. In fact, there are a significant number of Afghans who still speak Russian, and there’s some overlap between those and the people the US trained and armed, and reportedly they’re being recruited by Putin to fight in Ukraine. So, in summary, the Taliban gonna Taliban because they value women’s rights about as much as the US Supreme Court, America doesn’t kill as many children abroad as we do at home but, hey, closer than you’d think, and in some grotesque nod to the failed Soviet era, that mediocre KGB agent-turned-demagogue has launched his latest iteration of operation human shield with the unwitting help of the Americans. You really can’t make this stuff up. 

As if all that weren’t enough, Monday morning in the US, Monday evening in Afghanistan, riffing off of the whole banning-women-from-gyms (and also public bath houses and, well, society at large) thing, the Taliban went ahead and ordered the full implementation of Sharia law. After skimming several articles all of which appear to have the same sources, the gist of it seems to be that the major change isn’t in the law but in the implementation and enforcement of punishments—yeah, those punishments, the ones we used to read about and cringe. Apparently, having thrust the country into horrific poverty as winter sets in and returning women to third-class citizenship wasn’t enough for the Talibs, and they’re now going to begin public amputations and stoning people to death on soccer fields again. It’s 2022, but the whole world seems to have missed the memo. Everything is backwards. We’re living in the dark ages again, but this time we have the internet.

So, when people ask me “how do you run so much” it’s not really that weird that I think “how can you not?” right? It’s the therapy I can afford, and how can you keep up with the news in this world and not need therapy? Still, I’ve never been one of those “ignorance is bliss” folks. I envy them sometimes, but in the end I suppose I’d rather be depressed than stupid.

This week I ran about as much as the last, and I’ve now run thirteen days straight, the entire month of November so far. I never been a “streaker” but I’m thinking about trying to at least run to the end of the month and see how that goes. Most days this week were 5-7 miles and some core work, though on Sunday I got in 18.5, one mile for every degree Fahrenheit it was outside when I began. In all this week I ran 52 miles and felt pretty good, save for a minor nagging pain in my right knee. My big toes are each uniquely aware of the absence of nails atop them, though both respond to their nakedness in their own ways and neither slows me down much. If anything, I enjoyed bundling up to run Sunday morning, and no part of me got unbearably cold. A win of sorts.

When I started this project, this Kandahar Marathon, it seemed like, well, a marathon. Fifty-two weeks. A few went by. Then a few more. Then months passed followed by seasons until suddenly today I looked and realized that winter is upon us and there are only seven weeks left in the year. This year may not have changed much in the grand scheme of things, but it has changed me significantly. Sometime earlier this month I crossed the two-thousand-mile mark for the first time in my life, and I’m still going strong. Have my efforts made a difference for others? It’s hard to say. I know there are Afghan people in Omaha who have benefited from my efforts and the support of those who have joined me in this endeavor. Having said that, I have to admit that sometimes it all just feels more than a little overwhelming. It must be time to go for a run again.

Until next week,

Mark