Haiti Marathon Story 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Robin Platt Recalls The Haiti Marathon Day

Saturday, January 8, 2011;

The walk to the start took about 15 minutes and allowed us to warm up. I was feeling good. My achilles and left calf were tight but not too sore today. This stayed consistent throughout the marathon but never got any worse. That was good.

We wished all the Haitians good luck ‘Bonne chance’. Two were wearing deck shoes, one had flat bottom Keds, several wore soccer shoes and the rest had some level of running shoe. All wore basketball shorts that were almost knee length. They were all excited. By 8:45 everyone was ready and we were off.

The Haitians started fast but a big group soon settled into a 9 – 9 ½ minute mile pace. By mile 2 our group was split. Jerry and Laurie were out front with the Haitians followed by Dorothy and I. We still had them in sight but have lost sight of the group behind us; Mark, Martha, Jacob and Andy.

Half way around the 1st loop I was in the exact situation I didn’t want to be in; running alone in Haiti and not knowing the course. We were also heading out of town so it was getting sparse. I had kept a Haitian in sight so I would know when to turn. I stayed with him until we completed the full 1st loop and then I waited for Martha and her group.

There was only one time when I was a little concerned, but that was because I’m not yet comfortable in this environment. A woman and man were coming down the street towards me. She was yelling something in Creole. I believe it was to someone behind me but she was looking in my direction. He was following a little behind her and holding something that was dragging along the ground. As they got closer I realized he was holding a machete and the tip was dragging along the ground. The machete is a primary tool for them to do yard, field and other work. I’m just not used to people carrying them down the street.

As we ran many of the children would yell ‘Blanco’ and all the children in the area would come running because ‘Blanco’ meant ‘White’. Apparently they rarely see white people and they seemed to enjoy it for the novelty. That happened throughout the race and whenever we walked around town. We were all running good but at a slow, comfortable 12 minute mile pace. I was fine with that. I was enjoying the experience and didn’t see the need to push. I was surprised that everything was going so smoothly. All my concerns about last night’s changes were unjustified. Everything was fine.

We caught the Haitian I had run the 1st loop with about ¾ of the way around the 2nd loop. His calf was severely cramping. I had noticed he wasn’t drinking enough when we ran together and gave him ½ a water bottle then. He wasn’t going to be able to run much further. Hopefully all the Haitians were not having the same problem.

Mark, Martha and Jacob said they didn’t see the water stop at the end of the 1st loop so I said I’d show it to them at the police station/play ground. When we got there the table and all the water was gone. We then noticed that the children in the playground all seemed to have water bottles. Haitians generally drink water from small packages about the size of a sandwich bag, so we knew those must be our water bottles. Now starting our 3rd loop I was a little concerned. What if all the water stations were out of water? We were also heading away from town and there wouldn’t be stores to buy water (none of us had any money, anyway).

We were now walking some. Jacob wanted to start a run/walk. I didn’t mind and was still concerned about the water. About two miles out of town, Hughes came by on a motorcycle and went to get supplies. After that all the water stations were stocked and water wasn’t an issue anymore. Even the police station stop was restocked.

This was Jacob’s first marathon and he was now digging deep. He was a real trooper and just kept pushing forward. The lead Haitian was Stephen, who had impressed us all when we met Thursday. He passed us at the 1st water station on our 3rd loop. Two other Haitians were close behind. Jerry and Laurie met up with us at around the 2nd water station. Dorothy had run with them for just a short time. We met up with her at the police station. She had been running with the oldest Haitian. They both spoke some Spanish and communicated a little.

Our last 5 miles were; run a mile then walk a mile, which seemed to work best for Jacob. At mile 25 Meredith (Jacob’s wife) showed up and was able to run the last mile with him. It was a great experience for us all to see him achieve his goal. After completing the marathon Jacob and I jumped on a Willio’s motorcycle and headed home – no reason for more. Martha and Mark found Andy and finished with him.

This was a great experience. It was an amazing group and everyone got along even with the challenges we faced.

A lot of the talk on the way home was what to do now that we’ve had the ‘Haitian’ experience. Jackie mentioned she wants to help Stephen get into a US College. Martha, Meredith and Christy will surely continue their aid to the schools and orphanage. Hope Chest, Tom’s organization, will start helping manage the orphanage. The rest of us will just need to figure our next steps.

We had a very good beef stew and heard about the finish from Jerry and Laurie, who were already cleaned up. Stephen was the new Haitian ‘Rock Star’ for winning the race. I was in bed by 7:30 resting but didn’t sleep well. I was cramping. Don’t know why???

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