Day 8, I cried my eyes out. I cried because we finally made it to Jacmel. I cried because I was tired and some of it might have been hormonal. I cried because I was being hard on myself and felt like I failed to give the runners the finish line that I thought they deserved. But what made me start sobbing was when our nurse and family member Nicole Fils-Aime ran to MK and hugged him at the finish line in tears. I saw her telling him, “you did it, you did it!” I broke because I saw how proud she was of him. I saw all the conversations from the past 8 days that probably culminated to this. I saw a mother, who chose to have a different life for herself and her family, proud, because a young man came to her country wanting the same for others like her. 25 incredible runners came to Haiti to tell the world that Haiti is not a place to be feared or to be pitied. These 25 people, along with 30 crew members and 4 years worth of alumni, told the world that Haiti is full of potential, is worth believing in, and is absolutely captivating.
I’m humbled to be a part of the WORK team, because every day that I get up to go to work, I’m reminded that the work I do is never about me. I was created to love and serve others, and although there may be times where I may forget this, I know I’ll always be reminded at any moment—be it by a photo from our last trip, at the weekly team meeting, or at the next finish line.
D’Ennery, Haiti - May 26, 2019
2:45 a.m. - My phone alarm sounds, and I begrudgingly sit up in bed. Rodger—my roommate—groans. And for some reason U2 starts playing on his phone… I don’t hate it. Voodoo? Most likely. Typically, I’d roll back over at this hour of the morning (let’s be honest, anything before 5am is still “night time”), but I muster the courage to climb out of bed.
2:55 a.m. - After a thorough teeth brushing, I lazily pack my bag, slip into my Vuori shorts and “Purpose” t-shirt—given to me by friend BC who has a podcast called “Pursuing Purpose”—and I head for the breakfast area. Sleepy faces have already started piling into the room.
The food in Haiti has been great. Coffee, toast, and fruit for breakfast. I’m a big breakfast guy… Lunches and dinners have consisted of rice (sometimes smelly which is apparently from mushrooms or something—no one really seems to know) and beans, chicken, plantains, and mangoes. It’s consistently tasty.
3:40 a.m. - I finish breakfast in silence. I’m not sure if I mentioned this yet, but the sun isn’t up yet and it’s 3:40 a.m.
4:27 a.m. - The runners hit the pavement after a group huddle and the legendary “Pou Ayiti!” or “For Haiti” chant team send-off echoes above the darkness. Small green, red, and blue lights bob off into the distance. Day 3 is officially underway. Crew members jump into their respective pickup trucks and chase after the runners. We are crew #4 aka The Coolest One (Haitians: Escane and Theo, American’s: Alex and Hayden). I can’t say enough good things about our crew. More to come about this group on a later date…
5:05 a.m. - Our truck coasts slowly into the darkness, Taylor Swift blaring out of the speakers. We are in the back of the pack, following the runners towards Gonaïves. Bigger trucks approach from behind and pass swiftly, honking as they do (always). As my new Haitian friend Theo tells me, “Don’t hit, don’t stop.” Those are the only rules when it comes to driving in Haiti.
5:54 a.m. - We arrive at checkpoint 4 which is 25k (15.5 miles) from the start and get our aid station set up. We are mentally and physically prepared to support the hell out of these runners. There’s actually a competition today to see which aid station is the best. My competitive spirit has already kicked in. You know I don’t want to lose this thing. And without warning, the sunrise hits. We all stop what we are doing and stare back down the street. Haiti is stunning. Sublime.
6:25 a.m. - Runners begin trotting into our aid station. Our truck is parked under a beautiful mango tree on the left side of the bustling street in Gonaïves. We have found shade and our music is bumping. DJ Legend (Theo) is on the ones and twos playing some our favorite throwback jams. We are feeling GOOD.
7:52 a.m. Runners continue to pour in. They are hot. They are tired. They are hungry. They are dehydrated. They have to pee. It’s a struggle. And we do everything we can to make them smile. A local Haitian man has generously contributed some chairs for us to use for the day. These are a huge hit among the runners. We wave them towards our aid station with a large flag. We offer them fuel and words of encouragement. I’ve quickly become known as “The Liquid I.V. guy” and making Liquid I.V. for the runners is my official job. I try to make it fun with some bartending tricks. The runners are easily amused in their state of exhaustion.
The three girls from Philly bring new energy to the team. We can all feel it. They have arrived a day late due to delayed travel and are devastated about missing the first day of Run Across Haiti®. Seeing them at our aid station and having the opportunity to support them along the run is emotional. And I don’t even know them yet.
8:35 a.m. The last group of runners crosses the finish line next to a National gas station. The entire Run Across Haiti® team is there, cheering the runners on with waving flags, hand sanitizer, bottles of water, and cans of cold Prestige (delicious Haitian beer). I provide high fives and gummy bears to anyone who will accept. They have done it. WE have done it. Day 3 is officially in the books. Time for everyone to relax and recover.
Yes, I promise all of this happened before 9 a.m., and I was there for it. Hard to believe I could accomplish something at that hour. But I did not make this up.
Running 200 miles in 8 days is an absolutely absurd feat of athleticism and pure determination. I am so incredibly proud of this community of selfless individuals who have taken time away from their busy lives to help others strive for a better life.
*This blog was written in Haitian time so the exactness of each time stamp is not guaranteed.
The 2:30 AM wake up call is so worth it to see the sunrise and cheer on the awesome runners. Haiti has been a big part of my life since I was young. Coming back time and time again has shaped my views and beliefs about the world and poverty. Work has been a huge part of this journey as well. I visited Haiti for the first time when I was 15 with Work, and have gotten the opportunity to watch the organization and our families grow as I did.
This opportunity to cheer on the runners and experience the country 5k at a time brings me a feeling that is beyond words to describe. The opportunity to watch all the new runners experience Haiti for the first time and see that light of determination and hope spark in their eyes the same way it did for me when I first came is so special. I am so happy that the Run Across Haiti brings people who would not normally come to Haiti to see just how important it is to spread the truth about the country. Haiti is not a place to be feared or pitied. These runners are proving it time and time again with each step that they take.
29 crew members, traversing 8 towns over 200 miles in 7 different trucks, supporting 25 runners for ONE country in which we all feel so passionately! The real world.. Haiti!
But.. you see.. it’s not just ‘us’ coming in to Haiti to run and crew and work. This is more than that. This run employs Haitians with the ultimate goal being: Run Across Haiti is completely Haitian led and supported by Haitians. Because of this run, my buddy Giordani (standing next to me) was able to build a new home last year and support his family!
Giordani is one of the hardest working crew members I’ve ever seen! He leaves his family each year to travel across his country for 10 days... working to support the Run Across Haiti runners. He’s the best at making sure the runners have hand sanitizer as soon as they come in, he ‘whoop-whoop’s’ the loudest, and he can shake a mean pom-pom!
We’ve been able to talk through translators... also employed through Work and Run Across Haiti. Giordani always thanks God for the Work team, and smiles the biggest and most genuine. He told me his sons really wanted to come this year on the run, and he thinks that some day they’ll either run across Haiti or work hard and crew like him! He’s proud of them, and is able to set an example that a good, dignified job will always be an option for his family.
So... crewing across Haiti looks exactly like this! A truck bed stocked full of... water, Haitian soda (Malta), lots of ice, medical supplies, protein bars, Liquid IV, pom-poms, a team of people from all over the US and Haiti, hand sanitizer, and every runners favorite... Pringles! 😉
We’re responsible for waking up before everyone else, setting up the truck, replenishing supplies each day, checking in the runners when they arrive, assessing their health (our medic’s job), driving to various check points, taking photos, cheering, filling water bottles, developing a killer Spotify playlist to pump up our runners as they come through our station (thanks Doctor/DJ Sean), and even running with the runners when they need that extra energy boost! It’s a team effort, and I love every minute. I’m tired... but that GOOD kind of tired that makes you feel like WOW... I did something awesome today. It’s a runner’s high... but for me.. without the running part! Ha!
I started my day at 2:30am nervous and not knowing if I could handle a day like this, and I had never even met my crew mates! I have a feeling we’re going to leave this trip with solid friendships... resulting in more trips to Haiti... which leads to more Haitian families working themselves out of poverty. Oh, what a crew like this can do!
I’d say that’s a pretty darn good day in the Real World… Haiti edition!
The first day was great. Runners and crew members were excited and full of energy to run.
We do it to help our families and to prove that Haiti is nice place.
Thanks for your time, your energy, your help and the basic thing is love. We appreciate that we will keep it up.
The Run Across Haiti is just as much a personal feat as it is a fundraiser. To get to this point, we all had to raise a certain amount of money, put in miles upon miles of training, but in the end, it comes down to running into the Caribbean Sea at Jacmel.
This year was especially hard for me in that I had the privilege of completing the task a little over a year ago, but after postponement, injury, and mental exhaustion, I couldn’t do it this year. I backed down from the task. Coming in on Day 6 and seeing everyone who was doing what I signed up to do was extremely difficult. It was emotional to see old friends and to challenge my competitive nature. It forced me to look back and remember why we do what we do. We do this for our families. It doesn’t have to be me that runs across the island, but it’s that year after year, it continues to happen.
When I backed out of RAH as a runner, I opted for Cheer Squad. It was hard to see my friends run without me, but today, I had the opportunity to run 27 miles with a first time RAHer and everything came full circle. Today I realized that helping someone else get to that finish line, accomplish the feat, was just as satisfying as doing it myself. I am privileged enough to have done it and I am forever grateful that I was a part of a dear friend’s journey so she could experience it as well.
As the country manager for Thread, this is the first time I am participating in the Run Across Haiti®. I am totally surprised by the WORK Team. Things are so well organized, and the team is so motivated to encourage the runners.
On day 5, it was amazing to see how everyone was motivated, having the same smile, the same gesture of brotherhood, the same excitement to make it happen and complete it. Obviously, there were some runners that were literally suffering, but they have had the courage to continue because they know they have a mission, and that mission is to suffer to prevent a family in Menelas from suffering. I could see that determination, that will to complete the 32k.
As the whole team was visiting the families in Menelas in the classroom, I was surprised to see how many things have been done with the kids and families. The change is real. Some of them speak english, I saw a sense of leadership exposed to them when Mackenley, one of the children, presented the welcome speech.
Getting all these people together is not easy, and I know it is the fruit of many days of hard work. There is a lot to do, but WORK needs support from anyone that shares the same values who wants to end poverty in Menelas as those runners who left their families to run for a good project. A big thank you to the team of WORK for making me live this adventure, a very big thank you to the runners for doing this sacrifice, and finally, thank you to those all over the world who are supporting remotely via any donation to help those families getting out of severe poverty. It is a great experience that I will for sure be open to make again.
We run like crazy across Haiti, but we ourselves are not. We are doing Run Across Haiti® for a good reason—for a better life for our families that are being educated and will surely experience a better future. Thank you to all the sponsors and donors, for helping us realize our dreams.
2:30AM we woke up today in Gonaïves. A port town and commune in the northern part of Haiti. Also the capital of the Artibonite department. Departments are sort of like county’s in the US. Gonaïves is a city of 300k people and feels pretty crowded as you make your way through the town.
It was a typical early morning on the run. Get in a quick breakfast, load the gear up, do a quick pow wow, take a headcount, read a letter from our amazing supporters back home, and bang! The runners take off and excitement fills the air as our adrenaline kicks in.
The front truck or “runner” pulls off and it’s pedal to the metal to the first 10k check point. We pass the runners on our left side in the pitch black night. They pace themselves for the long road ahead as their head lamps light the way. We keep our windows down so we can give a few words of encouragement as we race the truck past them and they become smaller and smaller flickers of light in the rear view mirror.
Crew is responsible for driving, sorting supplies, making checklists, plotting the routes, filling coolers, cleaning the trucks, and a host of many other duties aimed to keep the runners moving, motivated, and safe and sound. The entire crew is absolutely brilliant btw. I don’t know what it is but these guys are pretty selfless out there. They make this tiring work feel effortless and oh so much fun “bull horn dj noise”!!!!!
I usually have some crazy story to tell about a flat tire, or driving my truck into a muddy moat, Voodoo, or something else. This year is the 5th year anniversary of the Run Across Haiti® and my 5th year joining Work on this thing so I just want to close by saying that I can’t be more proud of this organization and especially the family members who we’ve seen grow in their jobs and businesses over the past several years. The support of this community is out of this world and will only grow! I’m looking forward to what’s next. Let’s keep this thing going one family member, one block, one bottle, one day at a time!
It was a good day. The runners were tired but they were motivated. This motivation took them to the finishing line. They were running so fast, especially Dessource, Matti, Timé, and Petrus. Today the run was funny at the finishing line—it was like a party. I love this activity. I say thank you to the runners for their energy and for their sacrifice because running is not such an easy sport. It was a wonderful day and I hope that the entire Run will be successful. Thanks guys for doing it POU AYITI.
Ynel Charles Jean
One of the things I liked the most about today was when the runners went down the hill. The energy the runners had and how they felt going through the mountain. I liked that they enjoyed running through the fog. I liked driving through the fog, it was fun. I liked the constant energy they had—still concentrated to get to the finish line, the same motivation. I know its hard to run through a mountain, and I saw their strength.
Today was a great day down in Haiti. Day 2 of the race. Runners had to make an incredible trek up and down a mountain that seemed never ending while driving it so I can only imagine what it would be like with feet on the ground. Overall, everyone has been taking care of themselves from a health standpoint which has made my job incredibly easy. A couple of blisters and some GI issues a day are nothing compared to what they could be experiencing if they didn’t care for themselves as much as they do which is just a huge attestation to their level of professionalism. All the sites have been extremely eye opening as to what this part of the world experiences on a daily basis. It’s honestly been an amazing trip thus far and I know this will only make me feel more grateful for all that we have back in the states. Wish the runners continued luck on their incredible journey.
Hello, my name is Giordani. To me, it was a nice day. Because even if we did not start at the exact time we anticipated today, we got to the finish line. There was only one person that did not finish today. Everybody was handling their responsibilities and respected their position. I liked that the runners were all glad to be on the run, and it showed that the Run went well for them because of their joy. I liked the way we cheered for the runners at the finish line, welcoming the runners and cheering loudly. We succeeded today!
Hi guys today was my first day of RAH. It was very well. That was such of a great experience for me to see the way the runners did it.
The RAH for me is one of the best way for the runners to show their love to the group of people who is living in Menelas that WORK support, and also to show that Haiti is not a country to be afraid of or have pity , however is a beautiful country with a lot of great people in it. This group of people coming from America decide to make one of the biggest sacrifice of their life, running 230 miles from Cap Haitian to Jacmel. They are giving their life, blood and a lot of sweat to support the work we are doing in Menelas. I don't really have words to say thank you to you guys but hope you enjoy it and get to the finish line at Jacmel. POU AYITI WEAH.