Run 139 : British Virgin Islands – Road Town

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11

Date : 25th  March, 2018

Time :  1h 01’ 05”

Number of runners : 30

Total distance run to date : 1390 km

Run map and details :  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2609070766

Media Coverage : http://www.islandsun.com/bvi-hosts-dan-thompsons-run-the-world-10k-challenge/ ; http://www.islandsun.com/run-the-world-10k-founder-thompson-running-in-bvi-on-sunday/ ; http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/sports/thompson-s-run-the-world-k-making-bvi-stop-on/article_9e79b5af-06d6-5f5d-ac70-cc333f7faade.html ; http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/sports/thompson-makes-second-v-i-stop-in-run-the-world/article_f28184b2-de7f-537a-86c6-244c6a2d204d.html ; https://www.facebook.com/BVI-Runners-137349299667596/

On the flight out of the UK, I got talking to Emma about Run the World. Turned out she’d spent most of her life in the Caribbean and I asked the obvious question : “Which island is your favourite?” She thought about it for a while, reviewed a number of options, and then concluded that the British Virgin Islands were her no. 1 choice.

And you can see why when you fly into Beef Island. Islands with golden beaches are sprinkled round the main island of Tortola and the overall effect is stunning.

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As we transferred from the airport on Beef Island to Road Town (the capital of the BVI) via the coast road (ask to go via the ridge route if you’re looking for something dramatically scenic) you could also see the scars left by Hurricane Irma the previous September. (Pls see Facts & Stats below for more detail.)

This was the view from my hotel of the local harbour. Almost as many boats on dry land as in the water.

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And here’s an outdoor gym that used to be indoors…

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At this point I should stress that, while the BVI were badly hit, they are open for business and residents seem united that a good job is being done in terms of clearing up and reconstruction.

Certainly Irma hasn’t affected their ability to put on a good run. Organised by Kay Reddy of the BVI Runners, and supported by the legendary Dean ‘The Sportsman’ Greenaway, about 30 of us met at Tortola Pier Park – where the cruise liners dock.

Cleave Farrington – representing the BVI Olympic Committee, Stephanie Russ-Penn – representing the BVI Athletic Association – and the Dean himself were good enough to give welcome speeches. I did my slightly jet lagged best to respond in kind

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and then it was time to start running.

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We ran south along the shoreline road and, as we ran, Kay told me the story of some acquaintances who live in one of the houses that we passed. They happened to look out of their front window during the hurricane and, to their amazement, saw a large boat heading straight for their house. Terrified they ran towards the back of their house to escape the collision. Which never came. Very fortunately, the boat caught on the actual shoreline – and is still there to this day.

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Having run south as far as the Water Park, we looped back to Tortola Pier Park before heading north and then east along the shoreline as far as the commercial port. A final loop back to our starting point and the 139th Run the World 10km was complete.

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The following day I was fortunate enough to be invited to talk at Cedars International School in Road Town. Before the main school talk, I chatted to a group of Y 11 and 12 students. A remarkably mature bunch, they’d all mapped out their future careers.

The conversation moved on from careers to the hurricane and everyone related their personal experiences. Extraordinary stuff as we heard each person’s story (which, for one student, involved following their dog on the grounds that animals instinctively know the safest place.)  The common factor in the stories was that, through a combination of good sense and luck, everyone and their families had stayed safe. A story which was repeated across the island because, despite being at the eye of the hurricane, apparently there were ‘only’ 4 deaths on Tortola.

I then gave a presentation to the whole school (feeling slightly sorry for the senior school students and teachers as it was the junior school version which leaves out most of the more ‘interesting’ stories from the various countries I’ve visited around the world.)  As we moved onto the healthy living part of the presentation, there was loads of interaction and hands shot up every time I asked the audience a question. They even booed when I told them a good night’s sleep meant no devices in the bedroom. All great fun.

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If there are any student parents reading this, I’ve now done a number of these school talks (and am also a parent of school age children myself) and I left with the strong impression that Cedars is doing a very fine job. The student body was lively, engaged and focussed. It was a pleasure to meet and talk to them.

It just remains for me to thank Kay, Dean and all my fellow runners for a great run and all their generous donations. And to thank Zach, Sami, Karen, and Celiah for inviting me to Cedars School.

I think Emma may have been right – the British Virgin Islands are truly a beautiful place!

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Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, to the east of Puerto Rico.

The British Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of TortolaVirgin GordaAnegada, and Jost Van Dyke, along with over 50 other smaller islands and cays. About 15 of the islands are inhabited. The capital, Road Town, is on Tortola, the largest island, which is about 20 km (12 mi) long and 5 km (3 mi) wide. The islands had a population of about 28,000 at the 2010 Census, of whom approximately 23,500 lived on Tortola. For the islands, the latest United Nations estimate (2016) is 30,661.

British Virgin Islanders are British Overseas Territories citizens and since 2002 are British citizens as well. Although the territory is not part of the European Union and not directly subject to EU law, British Virgin Islanders are deemed to be citizens of the EU by virtue of their British citizenship.

The effects of Hurricane Irma in the British Virgin Islands were significant in terms of both human and socio-economic impact on the Territory. Hurricane Irma struck the British Virgin Islands as a Category 5 hurricane during the daylight hours of Wednesday, 6 September 2017. It caused widespread destruction, and killed a total of four people.

The hurricane caused extensive damage to property and infrastructure in the Territory, and caused statistically significant levels of depopulation.

The Governor, Gus Jaspert, who had only been sworn in a few days previously, declared a state of emergency under the Territory’s constitution, the first time this had ever happened. As radio facilities had been significantly damaged and inoperable, the state of emergency had to be announced by distribution of flyers around the capital, Road Town.

At approximately 4.30am local time public electricity was switched off. Standard operating procedure for the British Virgin Islands Electricity Corporate is to shut off power once the majority of the Territory is experiencing tropical storm force winds. By approximately 9.30am the majority of the country was experiencing hurricane force winds. By the time the storm hit the British Virgin Islands, it has intensified to such a level as to be detected on seismometers calibrated for earthquakes. The eye of the hurricane traversed the Territory between around 1.00 and 2.30pm. By the early evening wind speeds had fallen once again to sub-hurricane speeds, although tropical storm force winds continued until the small hours of the following morning.

A series of public alert messages sent in SMS form by the Department of Disaster of Management throughout the day, and were recorded in The Irma Diaries, a book recording experiences of survivors from the storm and its aftermath. At 5.39am a message was sent:

At 5:00 AM, the National Hurricane Centre has indicated that Hurricane Irma’s maximum sustained winds remain near 185 miles per hour (mph) with higher gusts. Irma is the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history and will be the strongest system to ever make landfall in the Caribbean.

… Based on the latest forcecasts, the approximate closest point of approach to Road Town from Hurricane Irma is 17 miles northeast.

The last message from the DDM which was sent before total communications failure was sent at 11.34am read:

We are in for a direct hit, a direct hit on Road Town! Move, move to safe room immediately! Move please to safe room immediately! Immediately! Move please.

No further communications were sent. It would later transpire that the offices of the Department of Disaster Management were almost entirely destroyed during the storm.

In the aftermath of the storm a large proportion of the Territory’s roads were impassable. Communities were essentially cut-off from each other and the wider world. Telecommunications was rendered virtually non-existent by the destruction of the cellular telephone network and the almost total loss of telephone poles for landlines.

Four people died in the Territory as a result of the hurricane. They were named as Charles Thomas, Derek Ragnauth, Xavier ‘Dag’ Samuels and Richard Alan Benson.[17]

Dag Samuels was a well known athletics coach in the Territory. His protégé, Kyron McMaster, would go on to win gold in the 400m hurdles in the 2018 Commonwealth Games the following year, and would dedicate his victory to his deceased coach.[18]

The Territory also experienced an abnormally high number of deaths in the months of September to December 2017, after the passage of the hurricane.

The most significant damage was on Tortola. The UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Tortola on 13 September 2017 and said that he was reminded of photos of Hiroshima after it had been hit by the atom bomb. Approximately 85% of housing stock – over 4,000 homes – were damaged or destroyed. Numerous contemporaneous reports referred to the “browning” of the island, and the bark being stripped from trees.

After the storm, authorities estimated that it would take 6 months to restore public electricity to the entire country; an estimate which proved largely accurate.

Availability of food, potable water, fuel and medicine were highly limited. Residents had to queue, sometimes for hours, in the sun to obtain necessities. None of the banks functioned for several days afterwards, and the Territory became a purely cash economy for a period of weeks.

 World Bank Data

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

GDP                                               NA                              NA

Population                                   31 k            2016       21 k            2000

Primary school enrolment*     99%            2015       103%          2002

CO2 Emissions**                        6.1               2014       5.0              2000

% below poverty line***          NA                              NA

Life expectancy at birth            NA                              NA

GNI per capita                             NA                             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  British Virgin Islands performed in the global sporting arena in 2017:

Global Cup – 125th

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.

Runners

Dean “the Sportsman” Greenaway – press and awesome pictures attached

Stephanie Russ-Penn – repping BVI Atheltic Association and rocking a Commonwealth games shirt (c/mon Kyron we NEED that medal!)

Cleave Farrington – repping BVI Olympic Committee and pictures

Ben and Maria Mays – setting the pace and repping the Governors office

Marcus and Jasmine – rocking 54 STRONG!

Wearmouth and Ghiorse’s – Family Strong, thank you kids and Ella, Ava and Eli

Sergio and Julie – also repping VISAR

Sami and Brandon – Cedar School advance party

Kim and Cliff – going for a quick sat morning 26.2 run over the hills is now known as a “Struicken”

Stoby clan – winner of best BVI athletic gear and youngest competitor, also press

Tash – rocking dual citizenship and proving champagne IS good for running

Dan – blooming ‘eck that was fast

Philo “14 marathons in a year”

Grandma Rose

Adrian ‘calm in the storm’ Dale

Young legs Riegels and runners

 

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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1 Response to Run 139 : British Virgin Islands – Road Town

  1. Pingback: The Latymer School | dansgoldchallenge

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