DAY 5—Saint-Marc to Wahoo Bay
The team wrapped up a tough 34-mile day yesterday and went into a "short" 20-mile day to head into rest day. Legs were wobbly and the rest day was sorely needed. The day's run was on large stretches of rolling hills with the ocean to our right. We ran along the major roadway, dodging traffic and running past locals as they started their day.
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Photo and video credits: Duy Nguyen, Patrick Moynahan, and Kevin Kim.
Day 5 is behind us. 2 more long runs to go. I am digging deep, really deep, to get through this.
Why? Why Haiti? There are so many other areas in need, perhaps closer to home, maybe around the block from where we live. But does it really matter? I have no personal connection to Haiti. I've never been here, I don’t have family here, I'm only recently learning about the culture. Having said that, helping people is what I do. It does not matter what their nationality is, their race, their language, etc. As a citizen of the world, and as a physician, it is a part of my nature to lend a hand to someone in need, whether I get compensated for it or not. The personal satisfaction of doing good, however, cannot be measured. This is my selfish reason. I sleep better at night knowing that I might have made a difference in another human being’s life.
Preparing for Haiti was enlightening. Yes, it was tough doing long runs in the frigid, arctic cold in Pittsburgh, yes, it was tough to fit in the runs between my professional life as a surgeon and my personal life as a single dad. But I've learned so much about myself, and others. I've learned that one’s own mind is often what holds us back from achieving what we once though was impossible. I've also learned through the fundraising efforts that those who have the least to give are the most generous, and those who are extremely wealthy simply offer lip service. Having donors who live from paycheck to paycheck made me believe in the inherent good that exists in human nature. I am forever grateful and respectful to all my donors: you guys rock!
There is a lot to do in Haiti. Driving and running around the country made me realize how widespread poverty is. You can even see the hopelessness in the eyes of the stray dogs. The Run Across Haiti will help a minority, hoping to make a difference one family at a time. There is a lot to in the world for that matter. Today it is Haiti, tomorrow it might be somewhere else. I've been blessed with the physical health and mental strength to attempt running those ultra-marathon distances. But as I've mentioned earlier, I have my selfish reasons: the personal satisfaction that ensues from helping others, and mostly the example I want to set for my kids. Maria is 16, Anthony is 14, and Michael is 11. I hope they understand by now that not everyone is as fortunate as they are, and that one day they will give back. I also hope that they will never stop trying to reach their goals, to achieve what they once thought was impossible.
Regardless of whether I can actually finish the remaining 80 miles or so is irrelevant. I would have failed trying my best, and that’s what I want my kids to remember.
After the miserably hot day we had yesterday, I was not excited to run today. It was going to be shorter—"only" 20 miles—but it wasn't going to be easy. We were told it was a rolling course. I think I complained all the way up that 4 mile long hill at the start. (Not exactly what I would consider "rolling.")
I kept finding myself saying "at least it's not as bad as day 4." It got really hot toward the end, forcing a lot of walking, but we got to run through the mountains and then along the ocean, so who am I to complain? I had over 100 miles on my legs, but I was surprised to find that I wasn't sore.
I've been finding more and more that my mind has been wandering when I run. Most of what's been going through my head these last five days is all jumbled and fragmented. There is so much to take in and it's difficult to process everything.
Because of this, the day seemed to fly by. That is, until the last two miles. Every time I ran downhill, I thought "this is it! This is the run down to the beach!", only to just have to run up another hill. I swear, those last two miles took as long as the first eighteen.
The sprint to the finish today was magical—something we had been waiting on for five days. Viv and Justin came down the hill to run us in and every single runner and crew member was there cheering us on. It was so good to be done.
Just a few things that flew through my head today:
- Sunscreen lotion takes away the effects of anti-chafe. Lesson learned.
- Banana trees both provide excellent shade AND a great spot to "go."
- Pringles always sound good.
- Don't book it until you can actually see the finish line, or you may end up having several false finish-line-sprints before being forced uphill yet again.
- I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to help people by doing what I love, along with my amazing new friends.
120 miles are complete. Wow. This is way more than I have ever run in one week and I have never been more humbled. All of the runners and crew have become fast friends. Jalyn and I are now known as “J squared” because we have basically run the last 100 miles together and it has been a blast!! We have run through busy markets, rice patties, up and down mountains and have been greeted by the friendliest people along the way cheering us on.
Every day I am reminded of why we run and it motivates me to the finish. The last few mornings we have started the run with a motivating note from a family member from Menelas, the community where Work helps families lift themselves out of poverty through good, dignified jobs, and it gives me the energy and motivation I need for the day. The last two days of running have been extremely brutal and painful but with the help of the amazing crew and my incredible running buddy I have been able to get through the day.
Tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to visit the community in Menelas and meet the families that we are running for. Then for the afternoon we will get to relax at Wahoo Bay and gear up for the next two days of running! 120 miles down, 80 to go. Pou Ayiti…
Day 5—Today when I woke up I missed my wife, my kids, my life back home, and I knew it was a going to be a rough day for me, but coming off of brutally hot 34 mile day yesterday, I thought that the 20 mile run today was going to go well. But by mile 2 I was knew that it was going to be a tough, rough day and the 20 mile run was going to be brutal. I SIMPLY wanted to leave and go home. I had to dig deep, put one foot in front of another and move forward. Today, there emotional highs and lows, more lows than highs. Thoughts that ran through my head, I hate Tap Taps, I hate mopeds, I just don’t want to do this, I want to go home, I tried to pull a smile together as I entered and exited each aid station.
But, then I remembered, I am here for a reason, I am running for a reason, and I need to just let Haiti watch over me.
I knew that this was not going to be easy, and it's not meant to be easy, but neither is life.
At some point during the run, I glanced over to the coast, and I saw the water, and then I thought, "I am actually running across Haiti, and the is the 5th day of running, and we have already covered over 100 miles, not including the 20 today."
The people that I have met on this experience, has been awesome, its like summer camp for adults that are all crazy enough to run across a country...LOL
As the run was wrapping up, the effort to put one foot in front of another was hard, but I knew I had to. As I entered into the final aid station all that stood in the way was 7k then I would be a Wahoo Bay, and rest day. I tried to put a SMILE together, but it was weak at best. As soon as I got to the truck, Christina said, "I am going to do this last stretch with you, and we will talk and play the F*** This Game", so we started walking had 30 seconds of negativity during the F***This Game, and then I laughed, and began reflecting on my experience, and it gave a me a chance to ask questions, learn more about Work, Haiti, the impact of the organization, the future of the organization. As we talked the K’s clicked down, and then we saw Viv, and both Viv and Christina were like "let's run it in!" As we got closer to the finish line, I heard the cheers of the entire team of crazy adults that are at Run Across Haiti summer camp. The closer we got, both Viv and Christina said "run it in strong!", I crossed the finish line through a team tunnel of friendly faces, and like that Day 5 of RAH 2018 was in the books, and I made to the rest day.
As the days click by, the run gets tougher, and it is always important to remember the small pleasures that you see across the way, and the SMILING faces that you see.
Even though today was tough, I WOULD NOT CHANGE ANYTHING about this journey. This is just the way that this is supposed to be, and this is journey that I am meant to be on. Everyone that I came across today was SUPER supportive, energetic, and helped me move forward. It's funny going though an adventure like this, there are going to be emotional days, and that is ok...it is a part of the experience.