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Date : 26th March, 2018
Time : 51’25”
Number of runners : 1
Total distance run to date : 1400 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2609070837
Everyone said the same thing. Dominica – pronounced Domi-nee-ca – is very beautiful but I’m not sure what you’re going to find there. It got hit very hard by the hurricane (Maria).
And if that sounds like we weren’t talking to people who lived locally, that’s because we weren’t. It proved very difficult to get hold of people in Dominica. In fact, for the first time since Denise ‘Da Bees Knees’ joined the Run the World team, I was running on my own.
Which was perhaps no bad thing as the way my schedule worked out I had very little time on the island. It was late afternoon as I came out through customs and I needed to hurry if I was to finish my run while it was still light.
Now, you may well live in a part of the world where this wouldn’t be a huge issue. Yes, it’s nice to run in the daylight but, if you don’t, then you can still go outside and run by street light. Except not in Dominica – at least not in the part where I was staying. Which was the rather charming, if somewhat isolated, Hibiscus Valley Inn on the side of the main road across the island’s interior.
There aren’t any street lights there. In fact there isn’t any electricity.
In other words, when there’s no more daylight, it’s proper dark.*
Luckily my taxi driver bought into the need for speed but once I got to the hotel it was one of those times when you want to hurry but everything conspires against you. Having finally found and changed into my running gear, I set off. In the direction away from the airport, and towards the interior, because my taxi driver told me it was less hilly in that direction. Which was true – but only because it was very hilly in the other direction.
As I ran along the road it was immediately apparent that the island was far from having fully recovered from the hurricane. I was surrounded by damaged trees and vegetation and flanked by a series of telegraph poles at crazy angles.
I soon realised that my original plan of running 5km in one direction – and then returning back to the hotel to complete my 10km – wasn’t going to work. There just wasn’t enough light. So I turned round after about 4km and told myself that I would do the final 2km near the Hibiscus Valley Inn. At least it had a generator and some light to run by – even if it meant running round in circles near the hotel.
By now, the number of insects dive bombing me seemed to have increased. As did the noises from ‘I don’t know what that is’ in the surrounding bush. And, most disturbingly, there were suddenly a number of people walking down the middle of the road in grey shirts that were very hard to see in the dying light. People who, for some reason, didn’t think a smile or a hello were needed in response to my greetings. I’m not saying they were the walking dead. But they weren’t very lively.
If you look at the time splits on my run you will see that I sped up considerably at this juncture…
Eventually I made it back to the hotel with about 2 km to go. Which I covered by doing 500 metre loops along the road near the hotel.
Although I could see the light from the hotel it was otherwise pitch black by this stage. And a very strange thing happened. Although I was running back and forth along the same stretch of road, I was always running uphill.
Rationally, I know this was just an illusion but I can promise you it felt like I was caught running in an Escher-esque world where the only way was up.**
With my nerves a little wracked I finally made it to the 10km mark and gratefully scurried to the safety of my room.
Later that evening, I got talking to Marina from Slovenia and Sebastian from Germany. They’ve travelled almost as much as I have and used to think the Seychelles was the most beautiful place on the planet. But they’ve now decided that title belongs to Dominica. In fact, they liked Dominica so much that they got engaged on the island.
Marina, Sebastian, it was a pleasure to meet you and good luck with the wedding. And don’t forget my advice – you need to hold the wedding somewhere your parents can attend. And, yes I do know best. I’m a parent.
Dominica – I shall have to come back some day. I know you’re beautiful – I just haven’t been able to fully appreciate you yet!
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* All the photos were taken the next morning when it was light. Well, not the zombie one which was obviously taken during the run.
** Usual Run the World gold stars for the first person to correctly identify the musical references.
Facts & Stats
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
Dominica is an island republic in the West Indies. The capital, Roseau, is located on the western side of the island. It is part of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The island is located near Guadeloupe to the northwest and Martinique to the south-southeast. Its area is 750 km2 (290 sq mi), and the highest point is Morne Diablotins, at 1,447 m (4,747 ft) in elevation. The population was 71,293 at the 2011 census].
The island was originally inhabited by the Kalinago and later colonised by Europeans, predominantly by the French from the 1690s to 1763. Columbus is said to have passed the island on Sunday, 3 November 1493, and the island’s name is derived from the Latin for “Sunday”. Great Britain took possession in 1763 after the Seven Years’ War, and it gradually established English as its official language. The island republic gained independence in 1978.
Its name is pronounced with emphasis on the third syllable, related to its French name of Dominique. Dominica has been nicknamed the “Nature Isle of the Caribbean” for its natural environment. It is the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles, and in fact it is still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity, as evidenced by the world’s second-largest hot spring, called Boiling Lake. The island has lush mountainous rainforests, and it is the home of many rare plants, animals, and bird species. There are xeric areas in some of the western coastal regions, but heavy rainfall occurs inland. The Sisserou parrot, also known as the imperial amazon and found only on Dominica, is the island’s national bird and featured on the national flag.
Dominica’s economy depends on tourism and agriculture.
Dominica is mostly volcanic and has few beaches; therefore, tourism has developed more slowly than on neighbouring islands. Nevertheless, Dominica’s mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots make it an attractive eco-tourism destination. Cruise ship stopovers have increased following the development of modern docking and waterfront facilities in Roseau, the capital. Out of 22 Caribbean islands tracked, Dominica had the fewest visitors in 2008 (55,800 or 0.3% of the total). This was about half as many as visited Haiti. The volcanic nature of the island has attracted scuba divers.
World Bank Data
Here’s the latest World Bank data for Dominica – with the year 2000 as a comparison.
GDP $581m 2016 $336m 2000
Population 74 k 2016 70 k 2000
Primary school enrolment* 112% 2016 120% 2002
CO2 Emissions** 1.9 2014 1.5 2000
% below poverty line*** NA NA
Life expectancy at birth 76.6 yrs 2002 76 yrs 1997
GNI per capita $7110 2016 $3600 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 Dominica 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.