Since my Day 3 blog we have traversed another ~133 miles from Gonaives to the beach and finish line in Jacmel today.
I was back on the bike on Day 4 supporting the runners who covered 34 miles (I covered 50+ miles) and finished at the “Pink” Hotel in St. Marc. A modified course with an out-and-back portion afforded me the opportunity to check on multiple runners, multiple times. Everyone did a great job dealing with the busy St. Marc streets and the hot temperatures.
On Day 5, I put the running shoes back on and enjoyed the 20 mile run from St Marc to Wahoo Bay Beach Resort. This leg is one of my favorites as it has lots of beautiful ocean and mountain views. Even better is the Wahoo Beach destination, which is always a favorite of the RAH runners and crew. But before enjoying the amenities of Wahoo, we had a wonderful visit to Menelas where we got to meet a number of young students who thanked us for taking the time and effort to participate in the RAH and to raise funds to support WORK’s families. WORK has created a wonderful environment at the schoolhouse for their kids to learn and grow. We also visited the new home of Giordani, one of the Haitian crew members on this year’s RAH. He was so proud to show us his new home which he built using earnings from crewing the past two RAHs. We also visited Carmitha’s store and the plot of land that WORK recently purchased to build a community center and garden. All of these visits serve witness to the progress that WORK is making in Menelas and to the value of the contributions that supporters are making.
Day 6 was a rest day, but I broke the rules. I went for a 1-mile swim in Wahoo Bay since Eagleman is only 8 days away. :)
It was back on the bike for Day 7’s 27 mile trek from Wahoo Bay to Port-au-Prince. This was probably my least favorite day and the traffic was heavy and fast, and it rained much of the time making riding a sloppy, muddy mess. But we got everyone to the Olympic Training Center finish line safely.
Day 8 was as epic as 2017’s. There is only a short time to rest before the crew headed out around midnight to start the final ~50 mile run to Jacmel. Andrea has been killing it the past few days, so Cam and I knew we could bring our relay team home to the finish line. (And of course she did!!) Based on the timing and difficulty of this course, I choose to pack the bike for the trip home and to hang out with the crew until there was a need for a pacer to support one or more of the runners. The run started at 1:40am under an impressive sky of stars. That meant a clear day and it ended up being a brutally hot day to climb 3,800 miles for 10 miles. I ended up running with Dan (7 miles) and Rachel (11 miles, to the beautiful finish line). Rachel is one of a 8 badass female runners that I had the pleasure of supporting this week. They all finished the entire route and will be added to growing list of female RAH finishers.
Many thanks to my friends that have donated over the past fews days. Your donations are being doubled thanks to an anonymous donor match of up to $15K. For those that haven’t…it’s not too late! You can be sure, as evidenced by what we saw during our Menelas visit that your donations will be put to good use.
My weekly totals:
58 miles run
~ 170 miles biked
1 mile swim
Tens of new friends and 100’s of memories gained
1 heart reinvigorated
Upon arriving in Cap Haitien on Thursday the sights, sounds and smells of Haiti brought back fond memories of two years ago when I first participated in the Run Across Haiti. I was excited to experience this beautiful country again; this time with a new team and crew. Runners, both veterans and first-timers, coming from across the U.S. and the crew this time is made up largely of Haitian family members. As in 2017 this years team and crew have quickly bonded with the purpose of completing the 200 mile run while raising funds for WORK’s mission to help its families help themselves out of poverty.
This year I have chosen not to tax my old legs with running the entire distance but rather I’m participating in the run as part of a relay team. So I will run on 3 of the 7 days and on non-run days I will cover the course on my bike supporting the other runners. I was on my bike for Days 1 and 2 and put my running shoes on for the first time today.
Day 1 took us from Cap Haitien to Plaisance, 33 miles with two big climbs. Most of the roads were pretty rough, with dirt, gravel, and potholes. It is a challenging test to start the RAH trek for everyone. But my new gravel bike was just the right equipment to navigate these roads. I had a blast supporting the runners as everyone completed this difficult course.
Day 2 was more of the same as the course climbed 7 miles on rough roads before dropping 6 miles into D’Ennery. On the climb I may have helped struggling runner, Alex—a Tokyo-native—run faster by telling him stories of my travels to Japan over the year.
Actually I am sure that he was thinking, “I’ve go to get to the top of this hill so this old man will leave me alone.” :) The downhill ride was exhilarating as much of the road had been freshly resurfaced. Later in the afternoon I took the bike back out and climbed a third of the way back up the hill to meet the runners from Philly whose arrival had been delayed due to travel issues. They started the 13 mile run 11 hours after everyone else.
Today (Day 3) was my turn to run. With an early (4:25 am) start we were able to cover the 20 mile net downhill course before the sun and heat got intense. I had the pleasure to run the entire route with Prem Kumar and most of the way with David LaBonte. The last 6 miles were a challenge as we had to dodge motorcyclists and trucks on the busy streets of Gonaives. But we knew that we could look forward to the enthusiastic finish line welcome from the WORK crew and other runners.
Later this week we will have the opportunity to visit Menelas, the community near Portau-Prince, supported by WORK. I look forward to seeing the families and the progress that has been made there. I thank all of those who have donated to my fundraising campaign. It is your support that makes this progress possible.