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Date : 20th January, 2018
Time : 1h 6’ 26”
Number of runners : 7
Total distance run to date : 1370 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2452288855
There’s a sense of relief when you hit the finish line on the final run on one of these trips. All the running is done, most of the travel is done, and it’s not too long until you see the family again.
It almost feels like time for a party. A small one mind you. There are still plenty of countries to be run.
It hadn’t felt like that at the beginning of the day. I flew in from Guinea Bissau at about 2.30 am. You can’t get visas in advance for Cape Verde so you have to queue for them in arrivals. Where some guy, who thinks its OK to alleviate his personal boredom by chatting and joking with the other border guards (who are sitting round doing nothing), eventually gets round to taking your money and putting a stamp in your passport.
My pre-arranged taxi then failed to show and I wasn’t in the greatest of moods when I arrived at my hotel shortly before 4am. Only to find they’d overbooked and the only room left was a tiny one containing a couple of kids’ bunks. And not a whole lot else.
A short sleep later, the Cape Verde experience started to improve considerably. Lee, a Brit working for the US Embassy, picked me up and off we went to meet Leonardo who runs the Cape Verde National Olympic Committee (NOC). Much as I love watching elite sport, what interests me professionally is anything that helps and motivates the general population to be more physically active. And Leonardo is doing some great work in this regard, leveraging the NOC’s position to support grass root initiatives in Cape Verde.
He’s also got Olympic paraphernalia (the picture’s not very clear but that’s a petal from the London Olympic cauldron between Leonardo and Lee)
and pins from just about every Olympics ever
in his office. And what could be better than that?
Lunch and a snooze later, Lee picked me up for our run. There were 7 of us on the run
and the route, put together by Lee, featured a series of loops next to the ocean. It was a ‘not too shabby’ (as we like to say in the UK). I’ll let the picture do the talking.
Lee’s a serious runner (he’s a 2:24 marathon man) but this was his first run after almost a year out with injury so we didn’t take it too fast. There was time for a natter and many protestations from Lee that there was no way he was going to complete the full 10 km. But even I knew that wasn’t true. And I’d only met him that morning.
And then there it was. The 7th and final run of the West African trip was over and it was time to relax and enjoy the final evening.
Dinner was tuna cooked on hot stones with Lee, Becky (Lee’s wife), Paul from the run and Gigi.
Lee is one of those are people who, when you say that you love the Pistols’ version of ‘Roadrunner’ on The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, knows what you’re talking about. So it was no surprise when the conversation turned to everyone’s favourite music.
Gigi, as befits a proper singer with Carnegie Hall on her cv, opted for jazz and classical. Lee loves the Floyd – who doesn’t – but plumped for Joe Walsh’s ‘Life’s Been Good’ as his favourite track. Obviously ‘Alternative Ulster’ is actually the greatest track of all time but ‘Life’s Been Good’ is a decent pick, so here it is for your aural pleasure.
After dinner, we headed off to a roof top bar where Zerui were showcasing their new album ‘Abrasu’.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was a top show – made even better by the fact that seemingly all the audience were able to sing and dance (your truly excepted of course.) The video’s well worth watching.
It was a great end to a great day. Thank you Lee and Becky for the fantastic support and hospitality.
And thank you to Paul, Paulo and my fellow runners for the company. Much appreciated.
I said at the beginning of the blog that there’s a sense of relief when you hit the finish line on the last run. There’s also a tinge of sadness that another trip’s over. If you’ve read any of the blogs from this trip – Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau – I’m sure you’ll understand why.
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Facts & Stats
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
Cape Verde is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. It forms part of the Macaronesia ecoregion, along with the Azores, Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. In ancient times these islands were referred to as “the Islands of the Blessed” or the “Fortunate Isles”. Located 570 kilometres (350 mi) west of the Cape Verde Peninsula in West Africa, the islands cover a combined area of slightly over 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi).
The Cape Verde archipelago was uninhabited until the 15th century, when Portuguese explorers discovered and colonized the islands, establishing the first European settlement in the tropics. Ideally located for the Atlantic slave trade, the islands grew prosperous throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, attracting merchants, privateers, and pirates. The end of slavery in the 19th century led to economic decline and emigration. Cape Verde gradually recovered as an important commercial centre and stopover for shipping routes. Incorporated as an overseas department of Portugal in 1951, the islands continued to agitate for independence, which was peacefully achieved in 1975.
Since the early 1990s, Cape Verde has been a stable representative democracy, and remains one of the most developed and democratic countries in Africa. Lacking natural resources, its developing economy is mostly service-oriented, with a growing focus on tourism and foreign investment. Its population of around 512,000 is mostly of mixed European, Moorish, Arab and African heritage, and predominantly Roman Catholic, reflecting the legacy of Portuguese rule. A sizeable diaspora community exists across the world, slightly outnumbering inhabitants on the islands.
Historically, the name “Cape Verde” has been used in English for the archipelago and, since independence in 1975, for the country. In 2013, the Cape Verdean government determined that the Portuguese designation Cabo Verde would henceforth be used for official purposes, such as at the United Nations, even in English contexts. Cape Verde is a member of the African Union.
World Bank Data
Here’s the latest World Bank data for Cape Verde – with the year 2000 as a comparison.
GDP $1.6 bn 2016 $539 m 2000
Population 540 k 2016 435 k 2000
Primary school enrolment* 97 % 2016 121 % 2000
CO2 Emissions** 0.93 2014 0.50 2000
% below poverty line*** 35 % 2015 58 % 2001
Life expectancy at birth 73 yrs 2016 70 yrs 2000
GNI per capita $2970 2016 $1380 2000
*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 Cape Verde performed in the global sporting arena in 2017:
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.