Haiti Marathon Story 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Haiti Marathon Reflections by Mark Francis

Hello my name is Mark. I was one of the participants and helped with some of the organizing in the Inaugural Ouanaminthe Haiti marathon. I have been running for the past 12 years, primarily distance. I have run 16 marathons and this would be my 9th ultra marathon.

It was a very warm Thursday afternoon. The date was August 6th 2009. My phone rings; it's my running partner Martha. “Did you not get my texts?? I have this crazy idea! I want to run a marathon in Haiti and I want you to run it with me.” The race would ultimately be a fund raising tool for a school in this city of 100,000. They have had 20,000 people recently relocate from Port Au Prince after the earthquake.

What a unique opportunity to do something no one has ever done before. Run a marathon, okay an ultra marathon, in a developing country, who could you say no to this? From the time we decided to do this event, till the morning of the race, about a year and a half had gone by and many things have happened to this very poor country. They have experienced a devastating earthquake, an outbreak of Cholera and political unrest. Our 7 athletes and families did not feel quite as secure as they did when they first signed up for this.

The race course consisted of four 7.5 mile loops, from the center of town out to the country and back. The streets in the town were cobblestone, and the rest were dirt with some hills. There were three aid stations with bottled water on the course. The weather at the start of the race was overcast and 75 degrees, giving way to sun shine and upper 80's. This is an island in the tropics with lush green fields and mountain views at the far end of the course. This is truly the most scenic course I have ever run in the month of January. There were 22 athletes in all, 15 of which were Haitian. The race was won by a young man named Stephane. For his hard work he received a first place medal and $100. Our hopes are that one day soon we will be able to continue Stephane's education in the United States . There was an awards ceremony the evening of the race. There was also very positive feedback from the community about the event. We are in the planning stages for the "2nd Annual Ouanaminthe, Haiti Ultra Marathon" -with a marathon option.

This was truly a unique life changing experience to have traveled to a foreign land, run an ultra marathon with my best friends, and make new ones along the way

A special thanks to Martha, this experience has touched my heart and in a way changed my life.

No comments: