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Date : 21st January, 2017
Time : 58’ 50”
Total distance run to date : 960 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1543565117
You hear a lot about the dangers of social media and the pressures it puts on young people. However, for those of us in our thirties and forties (in online dating if not chronological years), I suspect it’s generally relatively benign.
In particular, I have a lot of time for (and no doubt waste a lot of time on) Facebook. Of course, it helps that I don’t have 1500 Facebook friends like the younger generation. I know – and even like – most of my Facebook friends. And that means their posts are a lot more interesting that might possibly otherwise be the case. So you see, there’s an upside to being Billy Not That Many Mates. Or at least that’s what I tell myself…
As it happens, I have considerably fewer FB friends than I do LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers. And I suspect you can tell a lot about a person’s demographics and social attitudes from their ratio of Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter to Instagram connections. And if that ratio isn’t already coded into every ad serving algorithm then someone should do so now and earn themselves a few million.
One of the reasons I like FB is that it keeps me in touch with people with whom I might otherwise lose contact. Take Jim for example. He went off to Osaka for a few years – his wife is Japanese and they wanted their kids to be fluent in kanji. He’s now back in the UK working as a journalist for a range of publications from the Mail to the Guardian.
He got in touch a few weeks ago to say that he’d been thinking of doing a piece about my runs for some time. And that, now I had cancer, he thought the media might be interested. Actually he put it a whole lot more diplomatically than that but he needn’t have worried. Rightly or wrongly, I was quite happy to talk about the melanoma and raise awareness of skin cancer and the work that Cancer Research UK do.
As you can see from the Standard’s headline (above), Jim was absolutely correct in his analysis of the media.
During our interview, Jim asked me how I felt about my forthcoming trip to the Pacific. I told him I was a little nervous. The travel schedule, especially when combined with the 10 – 12 hour time zone differences, was going to pretty horrific. I was also worried that, not having been able to train due to the cancer op, I was going to struggle with the runs.
Jim, looking to encourage me, suggested I probably had a pretty high level of core fitness even without training. I hoped he was right. In fact, I really hoped he was right because it would mean that I wouldn’t have to train so hard for future trips. (I must be on about my twentieth trip by now and its increasingly hard to motivate myself to do all the training).
Of course, Jim was right at one level. I am reasonably fit and can run 10km without needing to train. But a series of 10kms, with a load of travel thrown in, is a very different matter. I’d already noticed that my runs in Guam and the Marshall Islands had been harder than normal.
And by the time I got to third run of the trip, in Kolonia in Pohnpei (sort of rhymes with Pompeii), the lack of training had caught up with me. Yes, I’d had no sleep and, yes, it was my second run of the day. But it was more than that. It was a real physical struggle just to keep moving.
My plan had been to take in the local sights and, since it was a Saturday evening, perhaps even check out the local hot spots. The general thinking being that I needed stimulation to keep me awake.
Unfortunately the only sight I could find was the Spanish Wall – the remains of an old Spanish fort (below) – and the only noisy place was the local church. Bars, clubs, restaurants, and the general hustle and bustle of life, were thin on the ground.
Which meant I didn’t have much distraction from thinking about how knackered I was. And how much it hurt. In short, I was nowhere near fit enough and I was suffering for it.
Eventually, after an aeon or two of painfully shuffling round Kolonia while trying to avoid the numerous dogs, I came across a running track. Now running tracks are pretty boring places for long runs. But they are flat, dog free and, compared to roads and pavements, relatively kind on the joints. And this one even had a motivational message on a nearby wall ( pic below).
There’s not much more to tell. I plodded around the track a few times then limped back to my hotel where I collapsed in a sweaty mess.
Time for a shower, a bite to eat and a couple of hours’ sleep before getting up in time for my 2.20am flight to Papua New Guinea. I’ve had better days…
The Facts & Stats
The Federated States of Micronesia is an independent sovereign island nation and a United States associated state consisting of four states – from west to east, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae – that are spread across the Western Pacific Ocean. Together, the states comprise around 607 islands (a combined land area of approximately 702 km2 or 271 sq mi) that cover a longitudinal distance of almost 2,700 km (1,678 mi) just north of the equator. They lie northeast of New Guinea, south of Guam and west of the Marshall Islands, east of Palau and the Philippines, about 2,900 km (1,802 mi) north of eastern Australia and some 4,000 km (2,485 mi) southwest of the main islands of Hawaii.
While the FSM’s total land area is quite small, it occupies more than 2,600,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi) of the Pacific Ocean, giving the country the 14th largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world. The capital is Palikir, located on Pohnpei Island, while the largest city is Weno, located in the Chuuk Atoll.
Each of its four states is centered on one or more main high islands, and all but Kosrae include numerous outlying atolls.
The ancestors of the Micronesians settled over four thousand years ago. A decentralized chieftain-based system eventually evolved into a more centralized economic and religious culture centered on Yap.
European explorers—first the Portuguese in search of the Spice Islands (Indonesia) and then the Spanish—arrived in the sixteenth century. The Spanish incorporated the archipelago in the Spanish East Indies and in the 19th century established a number of outposts and missions. In 1887, they founded the town of Santiago de la Ascension in what today is Kolonia (where I ran) on the island of Pohnpei.
Following defeat in the Spanish–American War, the Spanish sold the archipelago to Germany in 1899 under the German–Spanish Treaty of 1899. Germany incorporated it into German New Guinea.
During World War I, it was captured by Japan. Following the war, the League of Nations awarded a mandate for Japan to administer the islands as part of the South Pacific Mandate.
During World War II, a significant portion of the Japanese fleet was based in Truk Lagoon. In February 1944, Operation Hailstone, one of the most important naval battles of the war, took place at Truk, Many Japanese support vessels and aircraft were destroyed.
Following World War II, it was administered by the United States under United Nations auspices in 1947 as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
On May 10, 1979, four of the Trust Territory districts ratified a new constitution to become the Federated States of Micronesia. Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands chose not to participate. The FSM signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States, which entered into force on November 3, 1986, marking Micronesia’s emergence from trusteeship to independence. Independence was formally concluded under international law in 1990, when the United Nations officially ended the Trusteeship status pursuant to Security Council Resolution 683. The Compact was renewed in 2004.
Pohnpei Island is the largest (334 km²), highest (almost 800m), most populous (34,000 people), and most developed single island in the FSM. The islanders of Pohnpei have a reputation as being the most welcoming of outsiders among residents of the island group.
Pohnpei also contains a wealth of biodiversity. It is also one of the wettest places on Earth with annual recorded rainfall exceeding 7,600 millimetres (300 in) each year in certain mountainous locations. It is home to the ka tree found only in Pohnpei and Kosrae.
Finally, here’s the latest World Bank data for the Federated States of Micronesia – with the year 2000 as a comparison.
Population 104460 2015 107430 2000
GDP $315 million 2015 $233 million 2000
GNI per capita $3560 2015 $2210 2000
% below poverty line 41.2% 2013 NA
Life expectancy at birth 69.1 years 2014 67.3 years 2000
Primary school enrolment* 97.6% 2014 113.2% 2004
*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students