The alarm went off at 3:00a, the first thing Andrea and I hear is a dog barking and a car horn. This is Haiti, we are back for another year, and the adventure is soon to begin. We were supposed to start at 4:00, so we were prompt to start at 4:27. While my nerves are not what they were in 2018, my first Run Across Haiti, my excitement was far more significant. I am having flashbacks from my prior year. I hear nervous chatter among those who are new, and my excitement grows even more. They are about to experience one of the wildest adventures of their lives and I get to be here with them! We are all going to struggle, the miles will appear to never end, but we get to experience Haiti on foot. The taste, the smells, the motos driving by - we start.
A minor alteration to the prior year’s course had us running a slightly different route which required us to run together for the first mile and a half. I settled in with a few gentleman and the day begins. Matty Mo has run this many times before and is a huge advocate of the what Work does, the run, and, in general, is probably one of the most supportive people you will meet. There isn’t a doubt in his mind that everyone here is going to finish and he let them all know prior to the start. The other two runners are Haitian, Petrus and Dessource. Little did I know, this was going to be the biggest change from last year - sharing miles with runners who speak Creole and some English. Our headlamps shine through the dust, simulating Star Wars light speed. The dust flies at us like stars, we dodge holes, motos, and mud. I love this! I begin to realize how much I have missed since I was here last year. This country, these people, this experience, this run - and I have missed running for Menelas.
The miles click off, we were followed by the police, we skate through aid stations and we eventually hit the peak of a valley side at the same time as sunrise. Our first 13 miles of Haiti are celebrated with range, red, and pink clouds illuminating the morning sky, hovering over a giant lake. Wow, Haiti truly is a beautiful place. As the miles continue, fatigue sets in, but we continue with each progressive mile. Petrus and I began to run one-on-one after a separation from Matty Mo and Dessource. He speaks English, to an extent, and would interpret the things yelled our way. Sometimes he would tell me, other times he would just laugh and leave me questioning. This experience, running with a Haitian, allowed me to experience Haiti from an all new perspective. 200+ miles last year and all I could do is smile when things were yelled my way. I am very grateful for this opportunity and for getting to share all those miles with Petrus. We came to the mountain - a six and a half mile uphill climb that punishes your legs. It’s wide open with no shade but in short order it presents you with views that make each progressive stride worth it. We dodge the vehicles flying our way, we encourage the words of support from the Haitian families, and we look forward to finishing this beast. We complete the last switchback and crest the mountain. Four miles and one small town left and we reach the finish. The 33 mile trip finished with some cheers and a cold Prestige (beer here!).
Being immersed in Haiti is something that I can hardly begin to put into words. I am grateful, blessed even. Getting to share this experience with all of these incredible runners is awesome, especially knowing that they are all running for families that have yet to meet. I am excited to get to Menelas and to share that experience with them. A few more days, a bunch of miles, and a crazy amount of Pringles will get us there. Each of us will get to see Menelas, our families, and the accomplishments of the hard work completed by Work. This mission, and this experience, would not be possible without all of our donors. I am grateful for the support and the trust that they have in Work and myself. Here we come, Menelas!