Run 127 : US Virgin Islands – St. Croix

A giant sign in the front yard of a St. Croix homeowner asks U.S. President Donald Trump for "tremendous! huge! best ever!" relief for the U.S. Virgin Islands, as seen from a Navy helicopter passing over St. Croix

Please give generously to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/Dan-Thompson11/

Date : 14th November, 2017

Time :  55’ 01”

Number of runners : 4

Total distance run to date : 1270 km

Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2342396624

Media : https://stcroixsource.com/2017/11/20/dan-thompsons-run-the-world-challenge-comes-to-st-croix/ ; http://virginislandspace.org/vipacebulletinruntheworld2017.pdf

“Your room will have a sea view – but then every room has a sea view these days!” Which was both an acute observation about the damage done to buildings and trees by Hurricane Maria and a great example of the spirt of the people I met on St Croix.

The above quote is from Kathy Tiddark – the owner / manager of Caribbean Breeze  and my hostess for the night.

Caribbean Breeze got hit by the hurricane.

rtw usvi 8

But is now looking pretty good.

rtw usvi 9

I’d been given Kathy’s name by Nina Tatum, owner of Casa del Oro, who was originally going to put me up but had to bow out after Maria destroyed her guest rooms.

Nina dropped by briefly when I was at Kathy’s. I asked her about the night of the hurricane. As she started to tell me about buildings falling down all around them, and the roof coming off her house, I could see in her eyes that she was reliving the whole terrifying experience. I’ll never forget her describing how the storm “sucked the windows” out of her home.

Kathy and Nina weren’t the only ones who went out of their way to help me in St Croix (pronounced Saint Croy by everyone I met). There was also Wallace Williams. Wallace is the founder and President of PACE Runners. And the General Secretary of the Virgin Islands Track & Field Federation. And he ran the marathon at the 1988 Olympics for the US VI team.

Wallace seems to know about half the people on the island and it’s easy to see why. He’s one of those people you can’t help but like and respect and he was good enough to pick me up from the airport and drive me to start of the run.  Which gave me a  chance to see the island. And there’s no doubt it got hit hard. Very hard.

Toppled trees lie on a tennis court after Hurricane Maria battered St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Trees and telegraph poles were knocked over in their tens of thousands ; roofs were blown off houses ; buildings collapsed ; electricity was out in much of the island  ; and there was debris everywhere.

A badly damaged neighborhood is seen from a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey surveying the aftermath from Hurricane Maria in St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands

On the plus side, the emergency forces are putting up new telegraph poles ; debris is being cleared ; the main roads are usable ; the island is green again (thanks to the astonishingly fast growing vegetation) ; hot showers are just round the corner ; and the people are beyond friendly.

My runs seem supremely unimportant compared to all this but I guess that’s what these blogs are (at least partly) about so here are couple of paragraphs on the run. Normally I’d write these but, since Wallace wrote a piece on it for the Pace Runners bulletin, let’s go with his words.

“Original plans for the St. Croix had Dan running with V.I. runners in the V.I. 10k Championships but hurricanes Irma and Maria put those plans to task. As it were he landed on St. Croix on Tuesday afternoon on the 3:44 flight, was hustled to the start at Arawak Bay…Inn At Salt River and Virgin Islands National 10k Championship Course on North Shore Road. Billy Bohlke V.I. long distance record holder and Nyan Bansal a Good Hope Country Day runner accompanied Dan on the run which started at 5 pm, proceeded to the Lavalle turn around and finish at the start point.

rtw usvi 14

The St Croix leg of Run the World was organised by Wallace Williams founder/President (centre of the pic below) of The Virgin Islands PACE Runners. “I’m pleased that the run went well, the weather wasn’t as hot as anticipated because jumping off a flight from England and the cold to the sub-tropics of the V.I. to do an endurance event can be rough. There was a tail wind going west and a head wind coming back making it quite pleasant and they finished just before it got dark. Dan had to leave for San Juan for his next 10k on Wednesday, then to Santo Domingo for Thursday and Friday it’s on to Haiti. Check out Dan’s blog and get first-hand accounts of each of his runs”.

rtw usvi 7

After the run, Wallace and I went for a meal and swapped running stories. Or we could have done but, since I’ve run one marathon, and he’s run at numerous major international championship including the Olympics, I decided to shut up and listen. Which was obviously unfortunate for Wallace as he missed the highly amusing story about how I made the mistake of drinking Lucozade during my marathon – and then felt like vomiting every step of the next few miles as it sloshed around in my stomach. On the other hand, Wallace has an endless fund of great stories about the championships he’s run in and the champions he’s run with. So perhaps it was the right decision.

Wallace also picked me up the next morning to take me to the airport. As you’ll have gathered the roads have taken a bit of battering (pic below from near Kathy’s place) but are now mostly fine. With the odd treacherous spot. We crossed over the edge of hole in the road which didn’t look too bad – but which turned out to a be a deep water filled crater. A mile later we had to pull over with burst tyre. The spare tyre was missing so I had to call Kathy who, of course, came to the rescue and made sure I caught my flight to Santo Domingo for the next run. But that’s for the next blog.

rtw usvi 12

For now it just remains for me to say a big thank you to Billy and Nyan for running with me (and for the donations!). I know it was a bit slower than you’re used to…And, of course, huge thanks to Wallace, Nina and Kathy. You were all stars. You can tell a lot about people from how they react to adversity.

There’s a lovely little postscript to this whole story. A couple of days after I got back to the UK I got the following email from Kathy :  “WE HAVE POWER!! They hooked us up at 4pm after 71 days!! You were good luck for us. I thought Randy [her husband} was going to kiss the linemen!!”

rtw usvi 1 (2)

Please like Run the World on Facebook to receive notification of future blogs and news about runs, races and running clubs across the world. And please donate to Cancer Research if you’d like to help fight the global scourge that is cancer.  Alternatively, help the people of St Croix recover from the hurricane – details below. Thank you.

How You Can Help St Croix

https://www.usvirecovery.org/

(Official site for the recovery effort)

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/hurricane-irma-relief-fund/

(Global giving relief fund)

https://www.youcaring.com/21usvirginislandrelieffund-942738

(Youcaring relief fund supported by Tim Duncan)

http://www.gotostcroix.com/st-croix-blog/hurricane-irma-relief-efforts/

(General advice on how to help)

Or visit St Croix. It’s a beautiful island with beaches, scuba diving, culture, great people and much more – and they’ll need to rebuild their tourist industry. So why not go? I did and I had an experience I’ll never forget.

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

The United States Virgin Islands is a group of islands in the Caribbean that is an insular area of the United States located 40 miles (64 km) east of Puerto Rico.

The U.S. Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Saint CroixSaint John, and Saint Thomas, and many other surrounding minor islands. The total land area of the territory is 133.73 square miles (346.36 km2). The territory’s capital is Charlotte Amalie on the island of Saint Thomas.

Previously the Danish West Indies of the Kingdom of Denmark–Norway, they were sold to the United States by Denmark in the Treaty of the Danish West Indies of 1916. They are classified by the U.N. as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, and are currently an organized, unincorporated United States territory.

In 2010 the population was 106,405 and mostly Afro-Caribbean. Tourism and related categories are the primary economic activity, employing a high percentage of the civilian non-farm labor force that totalled 42,752 persons in 2016. (The total non-farm labor force was 48,278 persons.) Private sector jobs made up 71 percent of the total workforce. The average private sector salary was $34,088 and the average public sector salary was $52,572.

In mid-February 2017, the USVI was facing a financial crisis due to a very high debt level of $2 billion and a structural budget deficit of $110 million.

Saint Croix  is the largest of the islands in the Us Virgin Islands. As of the 2010 United States Census, St. Croix’s population was 50,601, its highest point is Mount Eagle, at 355 metres (1,165 ft). St. Croix’s nickname is “Twin City”, for its two towns on opposite ends of the island, Frederiksted on the western end and Christiansted on the east.

Hurricane Maria was the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record. It is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica, and caused catastrophic damage and a major humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. Maria was the thirteenth named storm, eighth consecutive hurricane, fourth major hurricane, and the second Category 5 hurricane of the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. At its peak, the hurricane caused catastrophic damage and numerous fatalities across the northeastern Caribbean.

On September 19th, Maria’s outer eyewall was reported by the National Hurricane Center to have crossed Saint Croix while the hurricane was at Category 5 intensity. The hurricane caused extensive and severe damage to the island. Sustained winds at the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge reached 99 to 104 mph (159 to 167 km/h) and gusted to 137 mph (220 km/h).  Weather stations on St. Croix recorded 5 and 10 inches of rain from the hurricane, and estimates for St. John and St. Thomas were somewhat less. The hurricane killed two people, both in their homes: one person drowned and another was trapped by a mudslide. A third person had a fatal heart attack during the hurricane.

Nearly a month after the hurricane, only 16 percent of people in St. Thomas and 1.6 percent of people in St. Croix have had electricity restored.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for the US Virgin Islands – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP                                               $3.77 bn   2015    $3.27 bn    2002

Population                                   103 k         2016      108 k      2000

Primary school enrolment*     NA

CO2 Emissions**                        NA

% below poverty line***          NA

Life expectancy at birth           NA

GNI per capita                            NA

*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students

** Metric tons per capita

***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While most of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)

Greatest Sporting Nation Data

Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how the US Virgin islands performed in the global sporting arena in 2016:

Global Cup – NA

Per Capita Cup – NA

The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.

 

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About Run the World

I'm running 10 km in every country in the world - a total of 205 countries - by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I'm doing the Run the World challenge to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to raise money for cancer research following the death of my mother from cancer. If you'd like to donate to Cancer Research - https://www.justgiving.com/Dan-Thompson11/ - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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One Response to Run 127 : US Virgin Islands – St. Croix

  1. Pingback: Run 128 : Puerto Rico – San Juan | dansgoldchallenge

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