Run Across Haiti Day 3

Today was another 5 a.m. start with a 20 mile rolling net downhill in front of us. I tried to take it out easy and for the most part succeeded. At least I felt easy, but many of the miles were 8:15-8:30. We were soon greeted by the sun and some beautiful vistas.

I saw this mountain top prayer spot. A woman was climbing it and singing. I’m not sure how much of her voice will come through on the video.

We reached a smaller town and this was the first time I’ve seen more children in school uniforms. But then again it is a Monday. However, in much of the rural communities I’m sure not many children are able to go to school.

I had picked it up a bit around mile 10 and came up on Ozzie, Jaylen, and Jacque, around mile 15, and jumped in line for the madness that was to come. We had about 4-5 miles of intense traffic and the moto, bike, car, and people dodging that comes with. Ozzie was dropping some sub 7:30s in, but I wanted to stick with the group as that’s the safest.

We had crew direct us for a few turns which was much needed – there was no way we would have made it otherwise. The four of us eventually came up on Jase, Matt, and Dan, as they hadn’t found the finish. I called Viv as the others took off down the road, and she confirmed that we were heading in the right direction and it wasn’t much further, so I took off after them and a few minutes later we were done.

I’m hoping that today’s effort at the end doesn’t hurt too much tomorrow, which is a ~34 mile day! It will be very hot. :-/

The hotel rooms weren’t quite ready, and this is what all the bags look like piled up.

Now it’s time to relax and recover. Tomorrow is a long long day.

Photos from Duy Nugyen:

Run Across Haiti day 2

Alarms started going off around me at 3:30 a.m., but some people were already stirring a few minutes before that. I had hoped to make it closer to 4, but with all the commotion that wasn’t happening, so I just got up, got dressed, and packed.

We gathered for some final logistics and hit the road.

(I have a good video to insert here once we finally get better coverage, of some Haitians running with us and singing!)

Today was simple — 7-8 miles up, and 5-6 down. We started at 5 so it was dark for a while, but when the sun came up we had some amazing views.

Today was much less crazy with traffic than yesterday!

I settled into a run walk combo on the climb, thinking about the many miles in front of us. And when I hit the down, I was conscious not to go too hard so I wouldn’t crush my quads for the rest of the week.

Here I am with Brittany — a fellow SWAP member (Some Word All Play – runner’s coached by either David or Megan Roche). We both wore our SWAP gear today.

The hotel we are at today is very nice, which is great because I was done just after 7. There are a couple of pools and separate buildings — more like an apartment complex or a resort. It is a little weird as this town is very small town that’s in the middle of no where. All I can figure is they do some kind of retreats here??

A few of us walked into town and then on to a museum, where we met most of the rest of the group.

The walk actually took us through a very nice (by Haitian standards) neighborhood.

The museum was for Toussaint, who led the revolution of Haitian slaves against the French.

I opted to hop in the back of the pickup for the ride back to the hotel rather than walk it again.

Now we are back at the hotel, will have dinner soon, and get to bed early again as we run roughly 20 miles tomorrow.

More photos from Duy Nugyen:

Run Across Haiti day 1

Strava stats:  32.5 miles, 2400′ climb

Day one is in the books.  34 miles, maybe 3000 feet of climb mostly at the end.   I’m guessing the GPS tracked a bit short so this is probably accurate.

One word for today: INTENSE!

Wow, that was crazy. The first mile was calm, but as soon as we turned off the coast into Cap Haitian… cars and people and motorcycles.

And the motorcycles were INSANE! Sometimes 4 people plus all their wares for the market for the day. The motorcycles never let up. They would swerve at you quite often if you were on the road. And sometimes you had to be – there were no shoulders!

Here’s a video I took when I made it through the madness:

And another that Joe took:

Also, I had assumed that with a 34 mile run, we’d leave the city and hit some rural sections. And while there were less people later on, there were actually homes the entire way. (Homes is being a bit generous to many of them.)

We passed through a couple of smaller towns and market areas that were INTENSE.

Here are my favorite shots from the day. I didn’t take many of the people – didn’t want to intrude.  But you can see both the natural beauty and the poverty and chaos.

Here’s one the race crew took of me:

I came upon this amazing church hymn:


Families washing their clothes in the river:

(Some of those are out of order!)

We stayed at a huge open air school house for the rest of the day. A lot of locals came and hang out – we had a soccer game (I chose not to play – last time I played I lost an ankle!)

We were all in bed by 7:30. Up a little before 4 tomorrow!

Here are a few from Guy Nugyen…


Haiti – travel day

Well, it’s finally here! All the training is behind me and the experience of Haiti is in front of me. I am so grateful for this opportunity! Thanks again to everyone for all of your support!

I stayed at the Tischer’s to avoid having Kelly have to drive me to the airport at 4 a.m. Jase and I were up and out the door by 4:20. There were no problems with security and the flight to Miami was smooth.

I read the following card from Kelly when we arrived. I am blessed with an amazing wife who loves me, gets me, and is always there for me.

In Miami we met a lot of the runners at the gate for the flight to Cap Haitian:

I was upgraded so had a decent lunch on the flight, and was the first one through immigration. I acted like I knew what I was doing so was outside pretty quickly. Then I was approached by many taxi drivers asking if I needed a ride. After a bit, others started trickling out and we met the RAH crew.

Here’s the bus we took to the hotel. There were also several pick up trucks to carry bags!

Bus selfie:

The bus ride over to the hotel was a little crazy. I was instantly struck by the trash — it’s literally everywhere! 😦

The road was crazy. I struggled to get decent shots, but it was narrow, crowded, rutted and seemed a bit dangerous. But our driver was amazing!

The hotel is literally at the end of the road and is pretty nice.

Some of the gang went for a run. Not me!

Most of us did make a trek to an old fort…

After that we had a team meeting to go over logistics and safety, had dinner, and now it’s almost time for bed. We have a 4 a.m. wake up call and will be running by 5. 34 miles tomorrow finishing with a long climb up a mountain.

Haiti reading list

The #roadtohaiti has not only been traveled on foot (training!).   I’ve also been reading a lot.  From Mountains Beyond Mountains, the book that helped define my “Why” for this adventure, to “Haiti After the Earthquake,” and now “The Big Truck that Went By,” I have learned so much about this little island country and its difficult and troubled past.  I can’t wait to arrive this Friday and soak it all in.


2018 Uhwarrie 20 miler

For 7 of the last 8 years, I’ve run the Uhwarrie 40 miler.  See last year’s post here, which has a good synopsis of past results.

This year, with the Run Across Haiti just two weeks out from race day, my coach David had the good sense of talking me out of the 40 and into the 20, though I was really tempted since the Uhwarrie 40 is my favorite race.

Race day came and I went out pretty hard, dropping in behind the lead 6 or 7 guys on the 1st climb but happily settling in there – about where I wanted to be.  But within the first 60-90 seconds, I felt really off.  My legs ached – the kind of leg ache I often get right before a serious illness such as the flu or the time I got Rocky Mountain Spotted fever.  Uh-oh.  Within 120 seconds, my stomach turned.  Oh man.  This was not good at all!

Getting up that climb over the 1st 1.5 miles was tough, and I few people passed me.  Once we hit the top and started down, I tried to settle in, but still didn’t feel comfortable.   I tried to maintain, but it was a struggle.  Between miles 3-8 I estimate at least 20 people went by, I just couldn’t do anything.  This was a mental blow and I was really beating myself up.  With all the miles I’ve put in for Haiti, why wasn’t I running better?  Was I getting sick?  Or too old?  Or what?

Sometime after mile 9, I finally managed to settle myself down.  It took me that long to just let the day be what it was going to be.  And then I started passing other runners.  Some were the 40 milers who had started an hour earlier, but I also recognized a couple from those 20 people in the 20 miler that had passed me early on.  I started being able to run some of the hills without achy legs.  I thought my original goals of sub 3:20 and top 10 were gone, but I felt better and better and was happy with that.  That continued all the way to the finish, as I ran stronger and stronger, and came in at 3:25.  I didn’t know how I had placed since there is a big mix of 20 and 40 milers, but eventually learned I had come in 11th (out of 190 finishers!).  So only 5 minutes off my goal and one place out of top 10!

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook later that day:

Uncle Uhwarrie still teaching me lessons after all these years. Today was about running with set expectations vs running with the cards you’ve been dealt on that day. After solid finishes the last two years in the 40, I went in to today’s 20 with high expectations. When I wasn’t meeting them, I didn’t alter plans for far too long. I struggled against what I thought I should be running vs what I was. Finally around mile 9, I settled myself down and went with what I had. Amazingly, or perhaps not so amazingly, I started feeling better. And stronger and stronger. I finished very strong, and not that far off my expected time. As always Uhwarrie was beautiful. And humbling.

I also came to realize I needed to put Uhwarrie in my larger context.  It was never an A race, I didn’t do much of a taper (prior weeks of 70, my peek training week, and 50+ miles), and I had not trained for tough single track trails.  Haiti is all roads, and I spent almost all of my long runs on roads or the American Tobacco Trail (greenway).   Only last weekend did I hit New Hope for 15 miles of single track on Saturday and 5 more on Sunday (as part of a 10 miler with the other 5 on roads).

So…  I’m happier than I was.  But still wonder what I could do with the right training in the 20!  I’ve hit the turn in the 40 in 3:28 (too fast, suffered on the 2nd half big time) and 3:31 (had an ok 2nd half) the last two years when Ive run 7:43and 7:31 respectively.

Here’s the Strava race analysis… This seems to show I ran 55 min the last quarter vs 49 in the 1st, but I think that is a touch off.  I forgot to turn off my watch and had to crop the Strava entry, and this also shows half way as past 10 miles, while the Strava distance came in at 19.2.  I’m not sure I understand that!   Oh well, I’m hoping there’s enough evidence to show I didn’t have a bad positive split, but there’s not enough to say I had an even split either!

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And the results:

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Now I have a couple of days to recover and then about 10 days to taper for Haiti!  And then it’s off to run 230 miles and climb/descent 15k feet in 8 days!  So excited!