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Date : 29th March, 2017
Time : 47’ 16” FASTEST EVER ‘RUN THE WORLD’ TIME!
Total distance run to date : 1030 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1682370805
The British Embassy had come up trumps (no political comment intended) again. They’d arranged for me to run in the Estadio Nacional Jorge ‘Magico’ Gonzalez – named after the brilliant El Salvadorian footballer Jorge Gonzalez aka El Magico.
Cited by Diego Maradona as “without a doubt amongst the greatest ten players I have ever seen play, in all my life” El Magico’s on field exploits were somewhat overshadowed by his notorious partying and sleeping habits. (He allegedly missed out on the chance to play for Barcelona when, on trial with them, he decided to ignore a hotel fire alarm as he had unfinished business with a waitress he’d met that evening.)
Ambassador Bernhard Garside – picture below – wasn’t able to join the run but he’d been good enough to come down to say ‘hello’. He remarked that he’d seen Iron Maiden play at the stadium. As luck would have it, I started my career in the music industry with Iron Maiden’s management company then known as Smallwood Taylor. (I’d been brought in to assist with their new signing – The Human League in their post ‘Dare’ comeback era.)
From there we got talking about gigs we’d seen and the professionalism of bands like Maiden (bands with long careers tend to eschew the El Magico lifestyle) ; the appalling state of contemporary music (this being indicative of our musical discernment rather than our age) ; and then our Top Ten albums of all time.
Now, I often have the pleasure of meeting Ambassadors and other embassy staff on these runs and my attitude is that private conversations should remain just that – private. However, I hope our Ambassador in El Salvador won’t mind if I reveal that, based on his top ten albums, he is a man of wisdom and taste. The UK’s interests are in good hands in El Salvador.
Sadly we had to finish the endlessly fascinating discussion about albums as it was time to focus on the run. There were quite a few of us at the start – top picture – and they politely followed my lead for the first few laps
After a while, a few of them pushed ahead. I wondered about upping my pace to follow them then remembered that a) the day before I’d struggled to complete my run in Belize and b) I had 3 more runs to go on the trip.
I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and let them surge ahead. (Which turned out to be just as well as most of them stopped a few laps later leaving 4 or 5 of us on the track.)
The odd thing was that, although I was running ‘sensibly’, my first km (usually one of my slowest as I warm up) took less than 5 minutes. A few more of those and I realised that a sub 50 minute run was a possibility – a rarity for me on these Run the World 10kms. Overall, it was incredible how much easier it was to run on a track compared to my usual runs which are mainly on roadsides and through cities. (It also helped that it was a cool evening and that one of the other runners decided to run with me.)
The lap times kept coming down and eventually I finished in 47’ 16” – my fastest Run the World 10km. And 8 minutes faster than my time the previous day in Belize.
I’d now done 103 out of 206 runs. In other words, I was HALF WAY ROUND THE WORLD. And, judging from the picture below, quite happy to have got there…
Huge thanks to Ambassador Garside, Xavier and Alejandra for organising everything. And special mentions for the runner in the picture above (I’m sorry, I can’t recall his name) who helped pace me and for Isias from the Embassy who ran the full 10 km!
Facts & Stats
El Salvador (Spanish: República de El Salvador, literally “Republic of The Savior”), is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. El Salvador’s capital and largest city is San Salvador. As of 2015, the country had a population of approximately 6.38 million, consisting largely of Mestizos of European and Indigenous American descent.
El Salvador was for centuries inhabited by several Mesoamerican nations, especially the Cuzcatlecs, as well as the Lenca and Maya. In the early 16th century, the Spanish Empire conquered the territory, incorporating it into the Viceroyalty of New Spain ruled from Mexico City. In 1821, the country achieved independence from Spain as part of the First Mexican Empire, only to further secede as part of the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823. Upon the republic’s dissolution in 1841, El Salvador became sovereign until forming a short-lived union with Honduras and Nicaragua called the Greater Republic of Central America, which lasted from 1895 to 1898.
From the late 19th to the mid-20th century, El Salvador endured chronic political and economic instability characterized by coups, revolts, and a succession of authoritarian rulers. Persistent socioeconomic inequality and civil unrest culminated in the devastating Salvadoran Civil War (1979–1992), which was fought between the military-led government and a coalition of left-wing guerrilla groups. The conflict ended with a negotiated settlement that established a multiparty constitutional republic, which remains in place to this day.
El Salvador’s economy was historically dominated by agriculture, beginning with the indigo plant, the most important crop during the colonial period and followed thereafter by coffee, which by the early 20th century accounted for 90 percent of export earnings. El Salvador has since reduced its dependence on coffee and embarked on diversifying the economy by opening up trade and financial links and expanding the manufacturing sector. The colón, the official currency of El Salvador since 1892, was replaced by the U.S. dollar in 2001.
As of 2010, El Salvador ranks 12th among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index and fourth in Central America (behind Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize) due in part to ongoing rapid industrialisation.] However, the country continues to struggle with high rates of poverty, inequality, and crime.
Finally, here’s the latest World Bank data for El Salvador – with the year 2000 as a comparison.
Population 6.13 m 2015 5.81 m 2000
GDP $25.85 bn 2015 $13.13 bn 2000
GNI per capita $3940 2015 $2160 2000
% below poverty line* 31.8% 2014 35.2% 2005
Life expectancy at birth 73.0 years 2015 68.7 years 2000
Primary school enrolment** 112% 2014 114% 2000
*Methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country
**Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students