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Date : 7th November, 2015
Time : GARMIN DATA CORRUPTED
Total distance run to date : 610 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/985061162 (part)
If you’re not familiar with the Maldives, it’s an archipelago in the Indian Ocean spread over 90 000 square kilometres with an average elevation of 1.5 m and the ‘lowest natural high point’ in the world at 2.4 m. Unsurprisingly, its felt to be at high risk from rising sea levels with many forecasting that it could disappear this century.
When they’re not worrying about the impact of global warming, I suspect most Westerners associate the Maldives with honeymoons or luxury holiday locations. And most of my fellow passengers seemed to be met at the airport and then whisked off by sea plane or boat to their holiday island. I, on the other hand, caught the public ferry to Male island – which is the capital of the Maldives.
It’s also one of the most densely populated places in the whole world. A ‘it would have been quicker to walk’ taxi journey ensued and finally , after almost 16 hours of overnight travel, I got to my hotel at 11.30 in the morning. Where we exchanged views on early check-in policies before I was eventually allowed to crash out in my room.
The President of the Maldives had declared a state of emergency three days before I arrived. Apparently the Vice President had been trying to assassinate him though, as occasionally happens with political disputes, not everyone was in agreement as to the facts.
In any event, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I headed out on my run later that afternoon. I certainly hadn’t expected it to be so wet underfoot. And I hadn’t appreciated quite how narrow and crowded it would be. Dodging puddles and traffic meant the first km took well over 6 minutes. Hmm. I needed to speed up if I was to finish within the hour.
The island’s only about 5k in circumference so I soon made it to the south of the island where there’s a coastal path and some room to run. My pace picked up and all seemed to be going fine until I rounded a gentle – but greasy – corner and went flat on my face. My fourth fall after Zambia, Namibia and Burma. All for different reasons and none of them much fun. It’s a long way down when you’re my height.
I continued round the island and ran into heavy traffic of all sorts and started to fall behind schedule again. I decided to cut back through town to the south coast to find a little more space. Past a running track. No traffic, no slippery services. Ideal. So that’s where I finished my run (picture above).
Time to get some something for my cuts and bruises. But no. The pharmacist didn’t like the colour of my money. Literally. To be fair, it had been in my running belt….
Never mind, I’ll get a beer and have a relax. But no. The Maldives is a Muslim country and alcohol free outside of the tourist resorts. Ok. How about experiencing some Maldivian food? No. The hotel couldn’t recommend anywhere.
There were also quite a few policemen out on the streets so it was perhaps wise to return to my hotel room and that activity you can seemingly do anywhere in the world – watch Premiership football.
Overall, my stay couldn’t have been much further from the classic image of the Maldives as a tropical paradise. But I did get a sense of what life is like for many Maldivians – and that’s part of what Run the World is all about.