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Date : 26th August, 2014
Time : 1h 7’ 17” (yes, really that slow)
Total distance run to date : 250km
Run map and details : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/582650703
Neville Dupre – above – is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet. But take my advice – DON’T GO RUNNING WITH HIM! Or at least don’t if, like me, you’re a rubbish runner trying to do your fourth 10 km run in just over 72 hours.
Joking aside, I’m very grateful to Neville for meeting me at the airport and guiding me through my St. Lucia 10k. Just wish he wasn’t so fond of running up hills…
Neville is a St Lucian international runner who has clocked 35 minutes for 10 km. I met him through Zepherinus Joseph – an Olympian who holds the St Lucian national records for every distance between 1500m and the marathon. (Whom, in turn, I met through Twitter.)
Neville took us off at a gentle pace from the airport via road to the north end of Vigie beach. We then turned and started running back down the beach itself. And that’s where the trouble started.
It was hot, really hot by English standards. The sweat was streaming into my eyes and I was finding it tricky to see where I was going. Especially when we had to scramble round some headland and I almost fell a couple of times. Then my glasses fell off. Then my shoe laces came undone. And each time I stopped, I took a swig of water, cleaned up my eyes as best I could, and had a surreptitious breather. I don’t know what Neville was thinking at this stage. Possibly ‘Who is this amateur wasting my time?’ Possibly something a little stronger..
Eventually we got to the end of the beach exactly halfway through the ‘bad’ kilometres (kilometres 7, 8 and 9). At which stage, Neville took us back onto the road and we climbed for one and a half kilometres. One and a half kilometres – aaargh! Normally, however hard the run is, I sort of know I’m going to finish it sooner or later. This time, the heat and accumulated tiredness were crushing me, my heart was pounding and I really wondered if I was going to make it.
At 9 kilometres, we seemed to reach the top and started going downhill. Blessed relief. Which lasted 200 metres before we turned up an even steeper climb to Vigie Lighthouse. Aaargh some more!
Finally, finally we got there. I ran round the lighthouse in silly little circles a few times to get to exactly 10k and then slumped.
I could have stayed there for some time but Neville was too polite to leave me. I realised with horror that, in order not to waste too much more of this good man’s time, I needed to run back to the airport with him. My head was screaming ‘Please, please don’t make me run any more’. But manners maketh a man (or destroys him in this case) so I hauled myself up and we somehow made it back to the airport before collapsing at a roadside vendor for food and drink.
Sometime later, after Neville had said his goodbyes, I ventured into Castries, the capital of St Lucia, for a couple of hours. And then returned to the airport to find that my LIAT flight had been cancelled. The ensuing three hour delay wasn’t much compared to some of the delays I’ve experienced on my travels. But I was exhausted and just wanted to get back to what was meant to be my family holiday.
I retired to the nearby beach and reminded myself that there were people at hotels further up the beach doing the same thing as me – sitting on a beach looking out to sea – and who’d paid thousands for the privilege. Didn’t stop me feeling sorry for myself. Pathetic.
Thank you, Neville and Zepherinus, for all the support. Neville, don’t forget my invitation to come to London where I promise to take you on the coldest, wettest, muddiest run imaginable!