Episodes

these things all happened:

When the car pulls over, I’m almost frantic. The driver brakes hard around the hairpin turn (rather than accelerating like he’s been doing) and heeds my quiet but urgent request. There is no shoulder, just the tarmac, a strip of gravel, and a thousand foot drop. As I exit the car, I throw my hydration vest and the half-eaten orange onto the seat of the Corolla. My clammy body lurches to the strip of gravel and, sensing the wind and what is about to come, I drop to my knees. The refuse that hurls from my mouth contains the last litre of water I consumed, and the last energy bar along with some nuts and the half orange I just choked down as we sped down the mountain from Lares. The last time I vomited like this was at km 50 of the Haliburton Forest 50 miler – great race – my best to date actually. This time is different. After starting out in the wrong direction, losing the path twice, slogging up over 1700m of vertical (from 3000 to 4700+), my training partner Julien and I have to throw in the towel at Quishuarani, a mere 25kms into our proposed 55km project of running the Lares trek loop. Through mountains of black and ice, and every shade of green, past stout brown women weaving at the base of a magnificent cirque, past potato fields and herds of sheep and llamas. We had stopped endlessly (probably too often) to catch our breaths for the views, and to take photo evidence. But our slow progress meant that with 6 hours of daylight left, we had only gone over one of the three big passes, and I wasn’t taking food or water on very well (looking a bit ghostly). We took our one opportunity to get on the road, and we ran the 10 or so kilometres down to Lares. I’ll be back.

* * *

I have become unphased by beggars in the street: the mumbling, the baked skin, the jangling tin of 10 and 20 cent coins, the wild eyes, the stories I tell myself about them. But I gasp if they bare their feet from beneath their twisting limbs, their torn garments. Those feet, bloated, blackened, caked in dirt or blood, were the last thing to come into the world, but they are the first to be beaten. I can’t watch.

* * *

According to Scott, there was an eclipse on Sunday. Who knows? According to just about everybody there’s a weird energy here. I’ve never once felt it. Except maybe last night. The sun hovered over the southern slums, stacked brick upon brick to the antennas at the top of one green mountain, and then all the others. (You can’t sense the chaos from all the way on the other side of the valley. It’s a quiet chaos, almost calming as you walk up the steep concrete steps…the steps are everywhere, and so are the dirty backyards filled with garbage and livestock and red-brown earth.)

The yellow light hung there in the sky, painting the silver rim of moon into a blue corner. I went up the switchback road, plodding into the grey horizon with its jagged edge. By the time I arrived at the Devil’s Balcony to descend the rough and thorny trail, everything was dusty with the recently set sun. I didn’t think to look up, but the moon would have been there, like a ring glinting in the sun. My legs felt unnervingly fresh for being on my second run of the day, and cruising at a good pace at nearly 4000m above sea level. Energy. Grizzly and grey but almost buzzing, the air was granular and the soft ground – once I got to it – was muddy and black as ink. I could still feel the horseshoe prints though – I could sense them.

Jenny says you shouldn’t go up there after sunset because you could get robbed. I’ve only heard third-hand cases…many of them…but all third-hand. I was aware of this fact though, almost twitchy with the buzz of the pixels as I silently started up the last climb on an old Inca road.

I heard it then. The beating of a drum and the hoot of a whistle. Just two instruments moving in the darkening sky above me. I was walking by this point, and could see three huddled figures silhouetted against what was still left of light in the sky. As I approached, they stopped. The woman was wrapped in a blanket, the two men hunched over, one adjusting his collared shirt and woolen vest while the other held himself as he urinated into the darkness. Stout, brown andean folk. The woman looked at me sharply and said, “where are you going young man?” I replied that I was going to get to the top and make my way back. The man with the sweater-vest and fedora looked at me urgently, the whites of his eyes bulging into the quickly falling night. I looked from one to the other: they all had purple flour smeared on their faces, and the man urinating into the thorny edge of the path had colourful pink and white and purple strips of paper round his neck. They were all drunk. The man in the sweater vest said, “I used to go up there as a young man,” pointing to where they had just come from. “I’d go aaaaall the way up, no problem. But you have to be careful. Things happen now.” Looking into their buggy eyes, I assured them all I was really just going a few hundred metres further before turning around. “Ok, ok,” said the woman, “but there are people out.”

The man who had had his back to me turned to shake my hand. He held it while he watched me through his dark and swimming eyes. “Sometimes things just happen. Not just out there, but here too. And we just can’t help it! There’s nothing we can do. It’s out of our control.”

I bid them all adieu, shook their clammy hands, watched their purple faces recede back into the night as I started up into the darkness again with the renewed beat of a drum and the flitting of a whistle. I don’t believe in premonitions, as I said. Or this energy. But as I floated down through the mess of rocks and the steep stone steps to where the street is lit with yellow light, where the dogs scavenge for garbage at the hairpin turn all day and every day, I felt those bugging eyes – dark and white against the night. They were from another time. A time when this buzzing night and these pixels under the sliver moon – when they meant something.

* * *

Three figures appear through the mist. They just appear. One moment it is green and black and the sitting cloud, and the next there are three figures. Within seconds, you can hear their breathing. There’re following the stones laid at the border of this old road. They are going somewhere. The road gets to the buttress cliff. They walk between the stones and amongst the cacti and low bushes. Across the Apurimac canyon mist is clearing, the clouds begin to reveal the edge of ridges, crests and peaks plummeting down and back into the thick ocean of fog below. Except for the green under their feet, everything is still black and white. You watch them approach what looks like an impassable rock face. Step by step, foot by foot. The two tall men are wearing shoes. They are the colour of canyon cloud. The man in front is wearing sandals. He displaces nothing but moves through the mist like knife through flesh.

After the river that comes down from the plateau where the alpacas graze, after hours that near them to the place of sacrifice, to the horns that overlook a kingdom of layer upon layer of mountains, after black and orange cliffs run the canyon like a ribbon under more rocks, more stones – after it all – and as the sun gets high above the canyon and into the blue sky, the short man starts to run.

His sandaled feet hardly touch the ground. They float his body up the trail as it reaches for the hot sky, up through the green and the river that flows down the trail. They are not afraid. You watch them, feel them graze the rocks and the dust that lays dry for thousands of years under the protection of cliffs. The two men behind, the two tall ones are burning in their chests. Their lungs have lost the elasticity they should have and their tongues are out of their faces like dogs. It’s the only thing you can hear from the ribbon cliffs all the gaping way down to the canyon floor (the invisible canyon floor).

At the top, sitting on Inca walls where life was cut through without a sound, between the horns of stone, the top of steps laid hundreds of years ago. You can watch them as they drink cloudy chicha from a plastic bottle, as they eat grains of yellow choclo. The sun is out, but there is no sound.

* * *

I lent my hat to a stranger. He lost it. On a night I expected the hard breathing, the skin of a woman, this man knocked, entered, and, through his round glasses and wisps of black hair falling to his shoulders, he opened his chest. He opened a plastic bag, he stuttered, he showed his love. In the bag was a bottle of wine from Mendoza, a hat knit by some old woman, and a CD of afro-peruvian music. He cared. A gift greater than gasps.

* * *

The long run starts with a relaxed 10km. Relaxed is not a physical state, it is a state of mind. I have water strapped to every part of me, I have a jacket bundled into the pocket of my vest, I have nuts and dried fruit, a soggy piece of french toast. I have hydration salts – I have water purification tablets, gloves, a cap and buff for the cold. (The feeling that I am prepared for everything).

I go up through fields, slipping in horse manure, rocks tearing at my shoes and thorns at my bare skin. When I get above the ruins and the dogs and the tern that dive-bombs me every time – when I have a solid birds eye view of the city below, I stop. Walking peacefully toward the V, the steep red trail in the green valley, up and up to the pass, there is a sun in the sky and across the valley I can see another trail, yet unexplored. When I arrive at the pass breathing hard, my legs are loose, they are eager to carry me, to turn over more quickly on the firm ground, around the grassy corner and into a ribbed and gasping canyon. The movement of my body is unconcerned, unconscious, dialed out – dialed in.

My hard kilometers start around the sweeping corner of the second pass, the narrow dirt path that feels downhill both ways. I’m cruising, I’m feeling as alive as it is possible to feel. Powerful. At the top, at 4300m I breathe hard, lactic acid surging through my legs. The thin air allows it to get everywhere, even my arms and my lungs burn. It is almost like sobbing. The sweeping peaks that surround me and the memory of mist without a breath of wind mitigate the suffering. There is a lake and endless cones, with stone ribs bent over ridges, lines against the sky like giant teeth, like the smooth lines of a naked body. The hard kilometers continue. I am pushing myself through the pain, breathing at the edge of thin air. As I turn down the valley, Cusco is a white dot in the distance far below and everything  is dark. With the black clouds comes booming in the sky.

A new kind of urgency.

I put on my gloves and jacket and make the next kilometers about outrunning the threat of lightning, the boisterous and flexing storm. I had never thought of being out in the bald mountains, on a ridge, in the lightning. But as the dark settles in above me, it seems that’s what’s happened. I run. My legs take me through the sounds, they take me through the silence, thank god!

The final 8k descending from the last pass the storm is gone and I feel the damage. The Inca ruins above the city are covered in a layer of white. The trails have swollen with water, they have become rivers. At some points I am on the edge of control, my feet churning over through the mud and tumbling rocks, through the clashing grains of ice. I crash through the coolness of bushes laden with water, overhanging the trail. Other times I am up to my ankles in frigid water. It is cold and refreshing to see a landscape covered in white, even just for a moment. I arrive home smiling.

 

Run

I

Yeah, that’s what most people say: why? I get it: it’s painful, uncomfortable, boring, etc. But don’t get me wrong, I loathe a 3k jaunt around suburbia as much as the next couch potato! The only difference I can see between that and a treadmill (and I sure hate treadmills!) is that you’ve got the weather instead of your favourite tv show. So, no. I don’t run as a means to an end.

I run because it’s the most stripped down embodiment of human capacity. That, and it gets me outside, and into a wilderness so disconnected from our urban realities that it’s almost unrecognizable sometimes. Any other outdoor endeavour (as rad as it may be) requires a fairly substantial amount of technology, resources, and gear.

Running is one of a small handful of sports that doesn’t discriminate between black and white, rich and poor, hot and cold, high mountain and steamy jungle. We can run everywhere. And we do. Kenyans and Ethiopians stormed the competitive marathon scene in the late 80s – but their running was only new to the West – they’d been at it forever. Buddhist monks in Japan run 1,000 marathons in 1,000 days as a meditative practice, the Tarahumara of Mexico’s copper canyons run hundreds of miles at a stretch to communicate, to play, and to simply hang out with friends and family. People still run their prey to exhaustion in the Kalahari desert… the list, I’m sure, goes on.

In 2010 I was in Chile. I was spending a lot of time hiking in the mountains of Southern Patagonia. Covering a lot of distance in a day, I realized if I traveled with less I could go faster, which meant I could also go further. It was liberating to trade my hiking pack for a small backpack and jog off into the never-ending mountains, finding that rhythm that is so natural. I’d return in a few hours, elated, hungry, and full of beautiful sounds and sights. This is when I (not so accidentally) learned about the “ultramarathon” – technically any run longer than the 42.2km marathon. I was intrigued. Here were men and women running distances of 100-200km at once. It seemed bizarre, given how the marathon has been canonized in our culture as the pinnacle of human capability and endurance. But 42.2km is both an arbitrary number, and, as it turns out, a wild underestimation of most humans’ abilities. Watching top ultrarunners is like watching any other mammal at an easy trot – it looks pretty natural! They’re also usually in the forest or on a mountain (rather than a track or road.) So, I was hooked…on the idea.

This past year I’ve put in all sorts of miles: fast, slow, long, short, painful, fun, horrific. The track for speed, the road for tempo, the trails for technique. 50km weeks, 150km weeks, 30 minute runs, 6 hour runs, rain, sun, ski-hill repetitions, 38 degrees, driving rain and wind. The more the miles went by, the more I felt totally natural.

Since this past summer’s training and a handful of ultradistance events, my mindset – my consciousness – as it relates to running and my own capabilities, has shifted hugely.

Like writing, running has become more than a means to an end (getting in your workout). It has become a continuous line, a long view, a lense through which I experience life and landscapes, as well as my own body and consciousness.

II

Since moving to Cusco, a city at 3500m above sea level, running has become a more efficient form of both exploring my surroundings, and staying sane. Living where I do, a mere 10 minute uphill slog from the countryside, I can huff and puff my way through small farm fields, wooded areas, up the spines of towering mountains, through the sculpted rock outcroppings and amongst the innumerable (and practically unacknowledged) ruins that dot everything. Some mornings, as the mist rises to reveal green peaks dusted with snow, I float up the ancient Inca road behind my house, Qapaq ñan. All I can hear is my laboured breathing and the odd barking dog. All I can feel is my aching body being dragged up these stone steps. It’s cold but I’m wearing running shorts, a t-shirt, thin gloves and a handheld water bottle. I arrive at work in the morning having been massaged by my surroundings, psychoanalized by the llamas and the tiny Quechua women who heard them, by the sweeping ridgeline of burnt orange-brown rocks and the creeping green of the rainy season.

I am lucky to have a friend and running partner (a former neighbour) who is both an incredibly strong athlete, and someone who motivates me to get up early to run before work. We’ve done some long running adventures on weekends that brought us over mountain passes, past alpine lakes (and yes, herds of alpacas). We once found ourselves wasted tired after three hours of narrow, steep, and rocky trails that wind and snake the impossible canyons and valleys outside Cusco, in the cold and pouring rain, and three valleys over from where we thought we were. Limping to the nearest road, we piled into a taxi that brought us (at no cost!!) the last 8k or so through a chaotic urban jungle and into Cusco. Sadly, he’ll be leaving with his family for Patagonia at the beginning of February, but it’s been a fun ride!

The altitude means that I go a lot slower than I’m used to, and distances feel roughly double what they are. It’s also pretty hard to go for an “easy” run, but bit by bit, as I soak into the whitewashed adobe houses of the San Blas neighbourhood with its impossibly narrow alleyways, its cobbled streets, my lungs are adjusting. And there are new projects on the horizon!

Now that I’ve done some exploring, I’ll be starting in on another training program with my coach Laura (@lauraperryultra), in preparation for some high altitude ultras over the next year, and some fun personal projects! In the end, it’s all quite natural.

Ata’s hands

My arms and hands, recently burnt lobster-red by the penetrating Andean sun (it is a different sun altogether), sustain a white plate on which lies the soft, orange remains of a mango. I get up from the small kitchen table. The robust legs of a metal chair are fitted with plastic tabs. They scrape over the ceramic tiles of morning. You can see through the erotic body to the sun.

I cut gently with my knife through
dripping flesh, juice creeps to
my elbows. you have to cradle it
firmly, gently

I have often imagined my Ata, my grandfather, with his elbows resting on the cheap tartan red table in my grandparents kitchen in Trenton Ontario, as he peeled a grapefruit. He would place each piece in his mouth. Juice would sometimes drip down from the corner of his mouth, pausing for a moment in the folded wrinkles of his weathered face. Ata would carefully hold the fruit as he leaned over the table or the sink – and the single paper towel resting on a background of red and becoming blotchy as the drips fell off his forearms and onto its thickness.

Any time I peel and eat a citrus fruit, leaning over the sink, I think of Ata. But the mango is a departure. This time I sit at a table and the action is different.The only common factor being I am “eating fruit”. But something about the care that must be taken – the loving and unconscious bond formed with the fruit as I look at its flesh – something about that soft gruffness

Ata’s gentleness pulls pieces apart
with strong, swollen mason’s hands
(place bricks on bricks
pull his strong body to a handstand

in the tired sun of afternoon’s end)
opportunities are straight arrows,
voids have sharp edges, words
pointed, losses impacts,
emotions facts –

so letting Ata’s thoughtful hands, covered in juice, sit in my consciousness feels cleansing, even invigorating. I don’t in fact remember the part about his face. That’s more my imagination. But I can see his hands – dusty, cut, sore, loving and holding his many children, tired and grateful. A strong sun comes in the window as I hold up the glowing orange mango peel like a stained glass host.

soft, thoughtful memory between my lips
like
bathing naked in mud
throwing yourself at an ocean
with some beautiful stranger

I remember my uncontrollable 8-year-old sobs as I saw his dead hands – they were missing what made them Ata’s – folded by a funeral director in that wooden box (cozily upholstered as if for a nap rather than for eternity and decomposing earth). I couldn’t even look at my cousins, chomping on complimentary funeral parlour mints. I was hardly breathing and all I saw was a body in a suit in a box through the stained and colourless glass of my puffy eyes.

eulogizing the long dead
trite and tiresome
I know.
the mango and the morning sun,
the
comforting infinity of Ata’s hands,
a slow flow of moments

 

A new job

(The photos don’t actually correspond to the trip in the piece below. We visited the above town, Cancha Cancha, the previous week.)

 

The chickens have been awake for some time. The faceless dogs that harassed me from half a kilometre up the steep side of a green, chacra-dotted mountain as I tore down running toward the river below (that runs among avocado trees and broad banana leaves) they’ve yet to be stirred from their cloudy sleep. Between roosters and our beeping cell phones, we creek into the day, the dirt of the morning and the creamy mist that evaporates imperceptibly with the rising sun. We’re cold enough to perk up, and when we hear them call from the other side of the adobe wall, we rush the last things into our knapsacks and race down to the waiting truck. Senovio holds the heavy wooden swinging door of the truck open and shakes my hand as I climb up the ladder into the back of the vehicle. We settle in – I am standing, Alison is sitting, and Nohemi leans against the wooden side, half asleep. The engine rumbles to life in the sleeping and dampened valley, disappearing into the milky air. At 5:30am the ink of the night has gone and as we labour up along the knife-edge snake of road past those faceless (and still sleeping) dogs, we find the crack that didn’t exist.

There is one other man in the back of the fruit truck with us. He is draped over a sack of potatoes, beside the bag of bread and the browning mangos. And he is persistent in his questions, slurred and tired. His eyes are red and only split open by the still morning that blows into the moving truck and reminds us of the speed of time. Trees turn to bushes, bushes to alpine flowers and prickly cacti and lichen, and we’re on top of the flowing ocean of white that crashes between the green and black peaks, splashing up their sides to leave tired and bright glaciers to gleam in the morning sun.

If you look closely as we head over the pass at 4500m, down between the black spires stabbing out through white clouds, that have already forgotten all the sounds of last night’s river as they kiss the earth, lick it, and float up into a disappearing cerulean blue – if you look down to the rock-studded green you see U-shaped dots, alpacas, eating as they do forever in their thick and cloudy coats. I watch the 13 or 14-year old boy open the turquoise door of the truck, moving the dense wood of the ladder, all its grains polished down by everything that has come before. He jumps into the back with a limberness of which I am envious (up here in the thin air) and rifles manfully through the bags to get bleary-eyed shepherds their breakfast of little white buns burned stale by the cold mountain.

The llamas and sheep graze on tufts of grass. The old leather-skinned drunk man has opened his eyes and jumps off the truck, steadying himself before he goes. He lands without a teeter, grabs his bread and thermos of tea to stand with the other men, watching his herd down in the valley where the clouds are now only a memory.

After almost forgetting to pay the driver, we take off our extra morning layers, stuff them in our bags, and head up the remnants of an ancient Inca road, slowly wheezing our way over a pass to the edge of a patchy bluff. There we look down over the crisscrossing paths – the same ones that split a hundred million square miles into ten times as many unique shapes. In the green and rocky cradle below are the small stone houses of villagers whose black shepherd dogs have come to life with the blazing Andean sun. We pick our way down to where we’ll meet with some 20 women, from young and vibrant to old and slow, even deformed.

(On the streets of Cusco there are women dressed in long woolen leggings and black shoes, a few thick and colourfully trimmed skirts, wool sweaters and oddly shaped hats with fabric draped overtop – or a sort of Andea felt tophat. They are then wrapped in colourful blankets. In my experience they don’t smile very much – they ask tourists for photos. These may have been their true outfits, but they have been forced into selling their history, their story, into commodifying their experience, making money off of the fetishization of traditional, of the poor, of the foreign.)

They are the shadows of the beaming women we find in Pitukiska, in the Mapacho River Valley. As they watch from their stone walled, dirt-floored homes in the nape and crook of the bending mountains, they can see us coming. We arrive and are offered coca tea and boiled potatoes and a fried egg by the strong and quiet women already there, their babies bound in rainbows to their backs. Slowly the remaining women trickle down the sides of the mountains, some between the black rocks and dogs, others with a whole herd of sheep.

As we talk about the next few months, the change in personnel (my replacing Alison) and the rainy season, Nohemi translates from Spanish to Quechua and vice versa. We smile and try to understand each other. The women sit in the shade of the once cold stone walls, the little squat toilet and the shushing river in the background, and we sit in the hot sun. We shake hands and say tupananchis kama (see you later) as the women drift back into earth’s harsh rocks.

There is nothing perfect about this. There is nothing easy about it – except for maybe a smile – that’s not so hard. Ordering textiles from indigenous women – buying or not buying them…(you finish this sentence)… women who live with domestic and sexual violence, intergeneration trauma, discrimination and neglect from the outside world and their governments, women who work from a tragically young age, who live in abject poverty; women who are not deemed important enough to receive schooling, who are tied to their stone homes by their babies and their God. Much like indigenous women in my own country. Much like indigenous women just about everywhere. I smile and I brace myself for the next two years.

The rocks and the llamas – even the faceless dogs – watch us, confused. They watch us as we wend our breathless way up and over the pass again and into hours of the blazing sun. They won’t see us again until the rains are over, until the frosts are back, and I suspect they won’t much care.

Here’s why

There’s no way to avoid headlines.You’d have to stick your head under a rock, and I don’t plan on doing that. But I won’t be turning on the live stream.

I watched the opening ceremonies of the Rio 2016 games. It was a beautiful spectacle, one that brought Brazilian history and culture to life (as if that needed doing) – a drama, a concert, a dance, a light show, a story! It shined a thoughtful – if tokenizing – view on indigenous folks, black folks. There was a whole piece on colonization and slavery and another on the richness of life in the favelas, which was a spectacular act of cultural appropriation. There was a piece on climate change, deforestation, and rising sea levels. Finally, each athlete planted a seed, I guess to help reforest the Amazon Brazil is bulldozing to graze cattle. It’s the last Olympic coverage I’ll be watching this year.

Outside the stadium riot police fired tear gas and beat back a crowd of local families protesting what they called the “exclusion games.” There was blood and tears, and the demonstrators were forced to flee. Who knows, maybe they were among the more than 77,000 Cariocas evicted from their homes with little or no compensation so organizers could build the Olympic village and related infrastructure. Or maybe they were upset that ticket prices to any event are probably in the neighbourhood of 6 months salary. Somewhere a black youth was probably being shot or beaten to death by police.

It’s just statistics. Since Brazil won its bid to host the games, police have killed more than 9000 people in Rio de Janeiro alone, 75% of them black. That’s roughly three people per day in one city, all in the name of security.

But let’s backtrack. Since I knew what the Olympic Games were (1996, Atlanta. Donovan Bailey, you know?) I have been pretty fanatical about watching and cheering and seeing the feats of people who pour their lives into just being present at this iconic sporting event. I know a solid handful of high level skiers, cyclists, kayakers, rowers, some of them national team members. I know these athletes sacrifice a great deal to be where they are. It’s a whole shitload of work. And they rarely more than scrape by financially. It’s not sappy. It’s gritty and hard – millions of calories burned. Quite frankly I watch the Olympics because it’s both exciting to see what is essentially a human freakshow (same reason I watch the TdF), and – let’s be real here – it’s inspiring and downright fun!

But I have found it increasingly harder over the years to separate the likes of the Olympics or the World Cup (think Sochi, South Africa, Brazil) from the political and corporate machinations that underpin them. 

Brazil has both the world’s 5th largest economy, as well as one of the highest inequality (Gini) index’s on the planet – higher than the likes of Zimbabwe and South Sudan. It just took a 30-year leap backwards in its march to a healthy democracy when unelected interim President Michel Temer took power, illegally deposing the elected President Dilma Rousseff. He proceeded to replace her racially and gender diverse caucus with – literally – a bunch of old white rich men. Then he threw out the corruption investigations that would have found himself and his colleagues in a LOT of trouble for embezzlement, corruption etc.

So we have highly corrupt and financially negligent bodies (national governments, the IOC, anti-doping, municipalities etc) droning on about fair play and the beauty of coming together on an equal playing field, celebrating our differences and rejoicing in our similarities (this is a paraphrase from the opening ceremonies). All that talk while they bulldoze family homes, throw people into the street, murder them because they’re black, and then make them pay for the whole kit and kaboodle probably for the next 70 years or so.

It is unfortunate that we believe sport to be apolitical, because if we realized the contrary to be true, we might do something about it. But for now we are taken to a place where rampant racial violence (something I witnessed in  Rio two years ago) – even slavery – is still a reality; where tens of thousands of voiceless and faceless human beings are rounded up and thrown into the streets far away from the city centre, left to deal with the fallout – with getting to work; where the poor are castigated, where public education and public health are both in the shitter, and where, perhaps above all, the people who used to inhabit this place have no way of seeing or taking part in the party. This wonderful event has ostracized, marginalized, criminalized (and in some cases killed) a vast chunk of the population. This year has been the last straw for me. I can’t do it (even though I want to!) I also know my not actively watching the Olympics does nothing, so that’s why I wrote this, just incase you didn’t know.

Sport is supposed to be a celebration of the human body, the human spirit. Not this.