Please give generously to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/Dan-Thompson11/
Date : 19th January, 2017
Time : 57’ 10”
Total distance run to date : 940 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1543565020
Guam didn’t start that well. I’d left home in London at 7pm on the Tuesday evening and, 24 hours of travel and ten time zones later, I’d reached Immigration at Guam airport. By now it was at 5 am on Thursday morning (local time) and I desperately needed to get to my hotel room.
The only trouble was that, having travelled 7 500 miles, I didn’t seem to be able to get any further.
The customs officer couldn’t find my US visa in my passport. I showed it to him. He didn’t say anything for a while. Then he spoke into his mouthpiece, “Secondary”.
I was escorted into a room off the customs area and my passport was taken away. Surely my visa was OK? It ran to 9th Feb and I’d checked before leaving – it was definitely the right kind of tourist visa.
Mild panic ensued. So much had been organised for me in Guam – I couldn’t let people down. And I certainly couldn’t stomach hanging around before being put on a flight back to London – apart from anything else, I really needed some sleep…
‘Your visa only allowed you a one-off entry into the US. And you used that up last summer’. The nightmare scenario I dread at every border – not being allowed in – was happening. Help!
“The UK and Guam have reciprocal arrangements. You need to fill in some forms but we can let you in.” Hooray!
I eventually got to my hotel – the Wyndham Garden – at about 6 am and asked for an early check-in. No problem (thank you!).
A frantic email to Luke, the ever patient travel agent, about my upcoming trip to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin islands – which would now have to be postponed – and then some blessed sleep.
Later that day I was picked up by Dave the camera man and taken to Dial Rent to Own – where I was Athlete of the Week. A richly deserved (…) award, of course, and one that meant that I got to hold a big laminated cheque and be interviewed by one of Guam’s top comedians. More importantly, it meant that they’ll send $100 to my charity of choice – Cancer Research. (Dave told me that cancer and diabetes rates are on the increase in Guam – something I hear in too many of the countries I visit.)
I’ve got Ryan, proprietor of Shamrocks Gastropub, to thank for organising the award. I’ve also got him, Myra & The Guam Running Club, Phil & the local Hash Harriers and Eric & the SOML Running Club for organising the run.
About 100 of us gathered at Shamrocks – top picture – and, after plenty of photos and a speech or two, we set off on either a 5km or a 10km run. I have to say, it was a superbly organised run. Masses of runners, cones and volunteers to show us the route and a number of water stops.
The only slight issue was that I wasn’t meant to be running so close to my recent op (to remove a melanoma from my cheek). The concern being that exercise can open up the wound and cause bleeding. And sure enough I could feel the pulling on the wound and then something running down my face. Thankfully it turned out to be sweat rather than blood.
After the run, there were more media interviews, plenty of photos (bottom of the blog) and selfies including some with cancer survivors (below). (I always find it inspiring to meet cancer survivors / fighters on these runs – there’s no better reminder of why I’m doing this mad challenge.)
To top it off Ryan had organised food, drink and a raffle for everyone. Overall, $645 was raised on the night. Fantastic stuff!
Finally, as a way of saying thank you to Ryan, and everyone else, here are my top travellers tips for Guam:
- If you’re in Guam, and you need anything to eat or drink, then Shamrocks is definitely the place to go.
- If you’re in Guam, and you’re looking to do a run, then the Guam Running Club, the SOML Club and the Guam Hash Harriers are there for you.
- If you’re in Guam, and you need somewhere to stay near the airport, then the Wyndham Garden comes recommended.
- If you’re in Guam, and you’re looking for household furnishings, then Dial Rent to Own is for you.
- And if you’re not in Guam, then why not? It’s full of great people!
The Facts & Stats
Guam is an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States. Located in the western Pacific Ocean, the capital city is Hagåtña, and the most populous city is Dededo. In 2015, 161,785 people resided on Guam. Guamanians are American citizens by birth. Guam has an area of 544 km2 (210 sq mi) and a population density of 297/km² (770/sq mi). It is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands, and the largest island in Micronesia.
The Chamorros, Guam’s indigenous people, settled the island approximately 4,000 years ago. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to visit the island on March 6, 1521 and Guam was colonized by Spain in 1668. During the Spanish–American War, the United States captured Guam on June 21, 1898. Under the Treaty of Paris, Spain ceded Guam to the United States on December 10, 1898. Guam is among the seventeen Non-Self Governing Territories of the United Nations.
On December 7, 1941, hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Guam was captured by the Japanese, and was occupied for thirty months. During the occupation, Guamanians were subjected to forced labour, beheadings, rape, and torture. American forces recaptured the island on July 21, 1944; Liberation Day commemorates the victory.
Since the 1960s, tourism and the United States Armed Forces have played a big part in the economy. I met a number of people from various branches of the armed forces and it was fascinating to talk to them as they’re effectively America’s front line with North Korea and China.
Though the votes of Guam citizens don’t count in US general elections, the territory nonetheless conducts a straw poll to gauge islanders’ preference for president. The 2016 straw poll favored Clinton over Trump by approximately three to one.
- Hillary Clinton (Democrat) – 18,146
- Donald Trump(Republican) – 6,191
- Emidio Soltysik (Socialist) – 1,086
Finally, here’s the World Bank data for Guam – with the year 2000 as a comparison. (Most of the data I normally include at this stage isn’t available for Guam – presumably because it is part of the USA.)
Population 170 thousand 2015 155 thousand 2000
GDP NA 2015 NA 2000
GDP Growth NA 2014 NA 2001
GNI per capita NA 2015 NA 2000
% below poverty line NA 2015 NA 2006
Life expectancy at birth 79.1 years 2014 75.1 years 2000
Primary school enrolment NA 2014 NA 2000