The Final Day: Port au Prince to Jacmel
“The Monster Day.” 50 miles. 11.5 hours on foot. 4,000+ ft of elevation. 1AM start. Less than 12 hours of recovery from previous days run.
This day will bring it out of you...whatever grit, grind, heart, and mental toughness you’ve got. There is no choice, if you want to finish the day.
Today was a true Haiti hot day, like I remember them for every day of the Run last year. Sun scorching, humidity rising, heat rash flaring, hands and feet swelling. Sounds terrible, right? And if you’ve followed me this far, you probably wonder why someone would subject themselves to such pain or risk of sickness. Especially for a second time.
Last year, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I remember how hard and painful and uncomfortable the trip was. Sleepless nights, tossing and turning from body aches. The same meal for every meal. The GI issues. But what’s more painful, is knowing there is a problem, and ignoring it. Extreme poverty, in 2019, with ALL of the resources available in this world, exists. And when you meet the sweet, hard working, honest faces behind it, at no fault to them, but to their government and the simple fact that they are born where they are born, you either do something about it, or you don’t. Sure, I’m only one person. I only raise $7,000. But it’s also only 200 miles and a few weeks of pain and recovery. I won’t ever live a life or know struggle the way our families in Menelas do. But I am one person. And I do make a difference. I choose to make that difference here, in Haiti, with Work. And I have a voice. And I have a small platform of followers who listen. And I have the relationships, freedom, access, resources, and ability to travel here and do work others may not be brave, willing, or vulnerable enough to try and do. I have a choice to use my body and athletic ability in the way that will help hundreds, hopefully thousands, in years to come. I see the difference we make. If you know my story, you know running saved my life. And now I’ll use running to maybe save theirs...
Work, and Haiti will forever be a part of me. Today, was incredible. I felt fantastic given the previous 24 hours (thank god for Doctor Sean & antibiotics). I was on top of my hydration and nutrition the entire run and I had Andrea by my side for every step of the way. Matty Mo, a 4-time runner and dedicated friend of Work, gave us words of wisdom this morning. He said: “Today is for you. This is your day.” As selfless as we’ve been as a team this week, and all the 8 months of training and fundraising leading up to it, today’s finish line was our own for the taking. And as Andrea and I ran those final steps through Jacmel into the ocean, I kept replaying in my head, “You did it, Jess. You did it, again.”
I often forget to honestly honor myself for the things that I accomplish, and take note of the scale of them. Or acknowledge that everything I aim to do with my life is to help and connect with other people. To let anyone, anywhere know that they are not alone. And if that’s as simple as sharing a smile with a stranger in a foreign country, I’m here for it. So, today was powerful. Those words I replayed in my head, were powerful. I am here. I am taking up space. I am making a difference and helping people on the way. And that is my definition of pride and success.
This won’t be my last time in Haiti. This won’t be my last time running across the country. I am grateful for my many new friends and Work family. And I am honored to have been a part of the Run Across Haiti for a second time.
Thank you for donating, encouraging, sharing, and reading about my journey. I wish one day you all experience human connection in Haiti and what simple joys can change a life, the way I have.
Pou Ayiti 🖤💛
Gonaives to Saint Marc
Redemption day. For me, last year, this day was the toughest. Beaten with tears from hunger and heat exhaustion. I knew coming back I wanted to tackle this day better than the rest. It’s fairly flat (comparatively), rolling hills, paved, open roads but with little protection from the sun. This morning, we lucked out with overcast and drizzle. Instead of trekking from hotel to hotel, Work decided to move our start line outside of Gonaives as a safety precaution. We loaded buses and were driven a ways out, which actually cut out a good chunk of the course we ran last year. Since we adjusted the course, we had to do an out and back when we got to our final hotel destination. It was interesting to experience this side of town in the mid afternoon. We usually pass through at 4AM, when the towns aren’t awake yet. It showed that the people weren’t familiar with us coming through—we got a lot of attention, and yup, cat-calling by way of kiss noises exists even in Haiti. 🙄
My first 15 miles I ran with a group. As we ran into Saint Marc proper, the crowds and sounds and smells from the market became so overwhelming, I had to take off in front of everyone to get out of there. I thought for sure I’d have a panic attack if I had stayed. It’s just so busy and overwhelming! Once the crowds started to thin, I started to run/walk. I kept this up and ran the remainder of the day by myself. I didn’t mind the lonely miles. The landscape was breathtaking, again, one we didn’t see last year because we ran through this part at 4AM. I got the crew and medics on the trucks all to myself for every aid station (hello, attention!! 😂). There were butterflies everywhere on this side of town!! I didn’t even mind the rolling hills and started to play games with my distance and pace. Ed, who is RAH alum, is on a relay team this year. He brought his bike for the days he’s not running, so he was cycling between first and last runners along the course and checking in with us and updating the crews on how we were doing. It was always FANTASTIC to see him riding up, since the only checkpoints you expect to see, are the aid trucks every 5k. I’m so glad I took the latter part of the day just doing what I felt in my body I needed to do. I ended having a ton of energy, not feeling awful, able to enjoy a beer, and though I’m sore, I can walk and am very stable compared to how I was hobbling around this place last year.
I reflect on how far I’ve come since then, and I feel like I was such a younger, inexperienced distance runner. I’ve put in so many miles having trained for two marathons since we left this country last year, and continue to practice my nutrition. Still working out kinks but I thought a lot about why I love this sport. The Run Across Haiti® isn’t easy. There was a time today I wanted to throw in the towel. There were a lot of moments I thought about how easy it’d be to just stop at an aid station and ask to be driven back to the hotel. But that’s not why we’re here. That’s not why I run. Those doubtful thoughts and bad physical feelings are fleeting and I remind myself pain is temporary. Every smile you see from the kids dressed in school uniforms... or the giggle you’ll hear as they run up behind you and with you. Every “bonjour” from a Haitian local you get along the course. Every hug from our AMAZING Haitian crew... is worth it. A billion times over.
We run pou ayiti!
We run for Haiti!