What do you do after you cycle across the country, covering 6,500 km of Egypt in 65 days? Well, the logical answer would be take a break for a year – or 10. But Omar El Galla only took a couple of months off, and it wasn't to get a break – it was to get ready for his next adventure. This time, he's running 1,500 km along the Nile from Abu Simbel to Alexandria over 45 days. What's the plan? Well, according to Omar: "I don’t have any plan, really, except the fact that I'm running, and whatever comes my way I’ll deal with."
Great."Once I was done with my cycling trip, I wondered why not run across the country? I asked myself if I could really run the length of Egypt. I wanted to set a new challenge for myself," Omar explains. "I hate running – I hate it with every fiber of my body, but then I thought 'does that I mean I can't do it?' It was then that I decided to go on this journey, just because of that. I challenged myself to do something I hated. It was a bet against myself."
Omar wants to stretch his mental and physical limits – walking 1,500 km along the Nile unsupported will definitely do that. Unlike his previous trip preparations where he would cycle everywhere and run all his errands on the bike, you can't quite walk your way to your errands around Cairo – that's just not going to cut it this time. "I started running 5 or 6 km a day, then I tried 15 but only achieved 10, which was very frustrating. I kept gradually improving but then I hit a wall; I could run 20 or 30 km but I was dead tired afterward and all sorts of things went wrong with my body," Omar admits.
"I decided to call Ali Ismail, Founder and Head Coach of Move Egypt," Omar explains. "He's a professional athlete who's trained many athletes and champions. I started training with him, and I improved a lot; we did a lot of strength and conditioning, weightlifting, core and abs, lower back, and so on – besides running."
Regardless of the outcome of this adventure, it most definitely won't be his last. Next up? Omar wants to swim across Egypt and roam the entire globe. "I remember when I was young, my father came back from a trip with an atlas. I looked at it and was in awe from how huge the world was. I was like 11 or 12, and I memorized the countries, capitals, places, and everything. I wanted to see them all," he says. And this is exactly what he intends on doing, because it's the only way a person like him could enjoy life. "I want to see the world in my own way and get to know myself. You know what I really see myself doing? I see myself rowing in the middle of an ocean, all by myself, with a storm right ahead. I’d be in pain and suffering, but I’d feel more alive than ever."
The pain and exhaustion of going on such mentally and physically demanding trips is but a small price Omar would gladly pay for his happiness. "I’m hurting all the time, I’m tired, I don’t sleep in the best places, I’m hungry, and I smell, but I’m extremely happy and I feel alive. I crave adventure and this is what I enjoy," he says. "People express themselves in different ways; this is me expressing myself in my own way. Some write, sing, or act – but I do this."
Omar takes off from Abu Simbel on March 14th with a 1,500 km, 45-day journey ahead of him and his trusty backpack, running Egypt from north to south along the Nile. "I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I promise I’ll see it through. I’m scared as hell, but I know I’m going to do it," he reiterates.
You can follow Omar's adventures on Safareya's Instagram where he'll be taking over our Instastories, and check out his Instagram account to dive deep into the world of #GallaTravels. May the odds be in his favour!
All photos courtesy of Omar El Galla.