DAY 8—Port-au-Prince to Jacmel
Day 8 was the longest run our runners faced this week, with over 50 miles! After a few hours of resting in Port-au-Prince, we hit the road at midnight. The first 23 miles are mostly flat, and then it’s 4000ft up and over “the mountain.” 25 of the runners finished Day 8 (90% finish rate!). Lots of emotional finishes on the shore of Jacmel.
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66% Raised of New Goal
HELP US REACH OUR NEW GOAL OF $250,000 TO ACCOMPANY 3 MORE FAMILIES. THE NEXT $20,500 WILL BE MATCHED, SO EVERY DOLLAR WILL BE DOUBLED!
Watch the Day 6 To 8 Recap Video:
Photo and video credits: Duy Nguyen, Patrick Moynahan, and Kevin Kim.
Yesterday morning, we completed our 6th day of running—27(ish) miles. It was over some rolling hills, along the coast, and came after our only rest day. It felt good and was enjoyable, but it was only the beginning. Due to the length of the 7th (and final) run, we were required to start earlier in the morning. Instead of the standard starting time of 5am, we were to start running at 1am. This meant that our legs had less time to recover, we didn’t get to eat on our normal schedule, and we were all sleep deprived.
We spent the first 20K together in “pods”, based on group pace, to ensure the safety of all the runners under the midnight sky. A support truck followed along each pod to ensure we were safe and healthy. After 20K, we broke the pods to approach the rest of the day how we wanted. Around the 22-mile marker, the legendary mountain pass quickly approached—a vertical ascent that seemed never ending, while occasionally allowing runners breaks from reality with spectacular views. The smaller mountains rolling below, the sea a distant blue, and the hectic barreling of the mountain vehicles. Children began to take note of runners passing and they would run beside us, ask for food, yell from the distance, or casually point and laugh at the length (or lack there of) of my running shorts.
I found the mountain pleasing. I felt an overwhelming satisfaction of pure joy as I continued to scale. I feel very blessed for this entire journey—for what I have seen, what I have learned, and the impact that Haiti and my new friends would certainly have on my life going forward.
As a runner, you spend a lot of time in your own head. Instead of thinking of the difficulty of running this last day, I found myself thinking of where I had been and what I had accomplished. I feel very appreciative that I was given a chance to come to Haiti, to raise and donate money, and to be part of something that I think is going to reap a harvest for many people in Haiti.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” At the top of the mountain, I found myself rejoicing in this quote. I have seen the beauty of Haiti, I have seen the desire to end poverty, and because of these things, I believe God will use the hands of the Work organization to do just that.
After a long day of hiking/hobbling, I reached the Caribbean Sea. Injuries and discomforts weren’t going to stop me from completing my journey. If hardships are not going to stop Haiti from progressing, why should they stop me?
To Haiti, Work, and my new friends—thank you. This was the adventure of a lifetime and I was blessed to share it with all of you.
Until next time, y’all.
Coming in, I knew this trip would be difficult to leave for. My wife and I both lost loved ones that were a big part of our lives. I recently lost my grandmother on January 23rd and then my wife’s grandmother on February 15th (a day before I was set to leave for Haiti). It took every bit of energy to get out of the car and walk in to the airport. What gave me strength was my wife and knowing that both our grandmothers would have wanted the both of us to continue with this trip. I held my wife’s hand and we walked towards the security not wanting to let go, then she tells me she loves me, to stay strong and that she will see me in a couple days. I fell in line for the security and kept looking back at my wife as she walked back to the car. My throat tightened up as I fought back tears, then I remembered I have 2 new angels watching me.
We landed in Cap-Haitien, Haiti and I’m already missing my wife and have been very quiet so far. I talked to Matty Mo a little bit and he gave me some words of wisdom since he knew the circumstances that my wife and I have been going through. The group of runners and crew jumped in the bus and trucks and we headed out to our first hotel. Within minutes of driving through Cap-Haitien, I was reminded quickly of why we are here. I have never seen so much garbage and poverty in a city. There were goats and pigs everywhere looking for food. There were people bathing and brushing their teeth in the sewers and in the garbage-infested beach. There were young children roaming the streets with wheelbarrows instead of being in school. We are here to end poverty through good dignified jobs, to showcase Haiti and its beauty, and to show everyone that this is not a place to be pitied or feared. This was where my Nanay and Gram Pearl wanted me to be. Not only am I running for Haiti, for good dignified jobs to end poverty, and for the people of Haiti, but I am running for my wife’s grandmother and mine. Helping others was what they lived for and taught us as young children. From that moment I knew I will be digging deep to finish this run across this beautiful country. I will finish this run.
When Day 1 arrived, it was still completely dark outside. I haven’t seen the stars so bright like that in a long time. We loaded our gear in Bobson’s bus and jumped in the back of the trucks to get a ride to the start line. Everyone was a little nervous as we stepped off the trucks and huddle together for another quick meeting. A letter from one our families through Work was read and Viv gave more words of encouragement. Her speech brought tears to my eyes, because she mentioned that this run has a lot more meaning to some. She said that some of you are not just running for the country of Haiti and to provide dignified jobs, but you some of you are running for families, your GRANDMOTHERS, your supporters. I squatted down to pretend I was stretching, so I can hide my tears. I wiped my tears with my shirt, looked up to the star filled sky, tapped my heart twice with my right hand, and pointed my finger towards the stars to the two new angels watching me. I’m finally ready to get this run started and I will finish it.
Day 1 happened and I finished the first day with RJ, Rabih, and Bryn crossing the finish line together. We arrived at the school house on the mountain. There were no running water or electricity, but they did have an outhouse for us to use. We had no beds except for the sleeping pads or bags each of us brought. The only light we had was from our headlamps and cell phones that still had power. There were many children coming over to make friends with their visitors and some of them provided us a form of entertainment when they started playing soccer in a little field. Viv told us at one point that these people will be able to eat for a week, because of the services they are providing us and they are getting paid for it. Knowing that just puts everything in perspective again of why we are here.
As each run day continues with a different set of miles to run and a different terrain to overcome, the bond between runners and the crew grows stronger. Everyone has their person or group to go to if they need any encouragement or even just to laugh or smile. The runners got to know each other on a deeper level during the runs because all the emotions run high when you’re putting your body through something so intense like running across an entire country. Many stories are shared and laughter along with the sense of our purpose of being in this country. Each runner even started to get to know each other’s significant others. We got to know PaPa’s (Cam) wife, Bryn’s husband Dave, and everyone got to know the love of my life, Amanda. People knew that I was just counting down the days of when she would arrive to Haiti since she was set to arrive on our 3-year wedding anniversary. PaPa and I had our daily notes from our wives that we would read before we headed out to breakfast that gave us more motivation to get through the run. We are lucky to have these strong women in our lives.
The sense of our purpose grew stronger on our rest day. The runners, the crew, and the cheer squad visited the Work families in Menelas. I was honored to share this experience with my wife. She has been my rock through this whole process. We saw how they were living. We heard their stories. The families we visited were not looking for any handouts but the opportunity to have good dignified jobs so they can provide food on the table for their families and put their kids to school. They want to work for a better life. That is why we are here. We are helping provide medical care, job training, to help send kids to school, and to assist with other necessities like financial guidance and family planning.
The last day of the run was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. We had to run 52 miles with only 12 hours of recovery time from a 27-mile run. That was ridiculously tough. For me having that rest day and taking the time to visit the families we were helping was such a big boost. It gave us the strength and motivation to continue to put one foot in front of the other even if it meant walking the last 30 miles with my now good friends. That was the longest 30 miles, but it allowed me to reflect of what we have accomplished, why we are here, who we are doing this for, and gave me some time to talk to Nanay and Gram. I crossed the finish line with RJ and our PaPa (Cam). We would have not been able to accomplish this last day without each other. We would have not been able to get to this day without our S Club 7 group. This was a fantastic and emotional day for everyone.
Even though I was not in a good place in the start of this trip, I finished as a stronger person and with many everlasting memories and new great friends. I will never forget this trip or the families we are helping. My feet will never forget the last 30 miles of walking to cross the final finish line. I know and feel that my wife’s Gram and my Nanay (grandma) are super proud of what we are doing and accomplished in this short week. I will miss a lot of from this trip especially the people. I will even miss the lies that Christina and Viv told us while we were running. Thank you for this opportunity of a lifetime. Thank you to Viv, Christina, and their entire team that helped us cross the finish line. Pou Ayiti!