Run 155 : Sao Tome and Principe


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Date : 27th September, 2018

Time : 48’ 24” (fastest time in West Africa)

Number of runners (total to date) : 17 (2451)

Total distance run to date : 1550 km

Run map and details :

“Does sex count as physical activity?”

I get a huge range of questions at my school talks but this one, from a Y 12 student at the Liceu Nacional in Sao Tome, was a first.

I asked him how long he spent having sex each day and he held up three fingers. Assuming he meant three minutes, I pointed out that he would need to have sex 20 times a day to achieve the recommended one hour of daily activity.

He then claimed he meant three hours – and his classmates fell about laughing.

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As regular readers will be aware, I always enjoy the school talks. Not least because they often throw up something unexpected. Only the day before, in Luanda, someone had asked me if I had cancer…

This talk had been organised, and translated, by Alex who, along with her mother Jane (the UK’s honorary consul in Sao Tome) had arranged everything.

Jane and her husband Peter had picked me up at the airport at 1 am that morning and put me up for the night in their brand new hotel – the Emoyeni Gardens. Which is very nice – full of light, spacious, tastefully decorated rooms with a garden and pool attached

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And that’s where we started the run. All told there were about 15 of us and we set off along the coast road following a pink pick-up truck driven by Alex.

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It was a beautiful evening, the course was flat and the athletes, whom Alex had invited to join the run, were straining at the leash. A combination that persuaded me to drop my original plan for a sensible 55 minute run and push on a bit.

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We started at a 5 min / km pace and, helped by the occasional splash of bath temperature sea water as the waves hit the sea wall, accelerated towards a 4.30 pace. Which was quite fast enough for me although, looking at the footage shot by Alex of us all running, I have a feeling my fellow runners wouldn’t have noticed a 3.30 pace….

Having run north for 5km we turned round and ran back 5 km to the Emoyeni Gardens, finishing in 48’ 24”. Everything I saw on the run reinforced the impression that Sao Tome is, as people had told me elsewhere in Africa, a rather lovely chilled out place.

Working on the assumption that most readers probably wouldn’t be familiar with Sao Tome – it seems to make most lists of the top ten least visited countries in the world – I asked Alex if she would be so kind as to take plenty of photos / video during the run. Here’s a small selection :

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Run over, there was just time for a few more photos, some re hydration, for me to wring pints of sweat out of my Run the World top, a fast shower and pack before Alex

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took me back to the airport for the overnight flight to Lisbon.

I remarked to Jane, Peter and Alex at the time that they’d picked me up, put me up, arranged a school talk and a run, and that, as the slogan goes, all they got in return was a lousy t shirt. Well that’s not strictly true. They also get my huge thanks for a wonderful 20 hours in Sao Tome. I kind of fell for the place and hope to be back one day!

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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 :

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Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

São Tomé and Principe is an island country in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, located about 140 kilometres (87 miles) apart and about 250 and 225 kilometres (155 and 140 miles) off the northwestern coast of Gabon, respectively.

The islands were uninhabited until their discovery by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. Gradually colonised and settled by the Portuguese throughout the 16th century, they collectively served as a vital commercial and trade center for the Atlantic slave trade. The rich volcanic soil and close proximity to the Equator made São Tomé and Príncipe ideal for sugar cultivation, followed later by cash crops such as coffee and cocoa; the lucrative plantation economy was heavily dependent upon imported African slaves. Cycles of social unrest and economic instability throughout the 19th and 20th centuries culminated in peaceful independence in 1975. São Tomé and Príncipe has since remained one of Africa’s most stable and democratic countries.

With a population of 199,910 (2016 estimate), São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest African sovereign state after Seychelles, as well as the smallest Portuguese-speaking country. Its people are predominantly of African and mestiço descent, with most practising Roman Catholicism. The legacy of Portuguese rule is also visible in the country’s culture, customs, and music, which fuse European and African influences.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for Sao Tome and Principe – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP $354.2 m 2016 $71.6 m 2001
Population 200 k 2016 139 k 2000
Primary school enrolment* 110% 2016 102% 1999
CO2 Emissions** 0.59 2014 0.34 2000
% below poverty line*** 66.2% 2010 68.3 % 2000
Life expectancy at birth 66.6 yrs 2016 63.3 yrs 2000
GNI per capita $1730 2016 $570 2003

*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 much 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 Angola 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.



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 - - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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2 Responses to Run 155 : Sao Tome and Principe

  1. Jane Pereira says:

    Hi Dan. So glad you enjoyed your time with us in S. Tomé! We loved having you and sharing a little of this wonderful thing you are doing, which is spreading the message about exercise positively affecting mental and physical health and of course Cancer Research. We wish you all the best and hope to see you back here at Emoyeni Gardens one day in the not too distant future! Jane, Peter, Alex and Lukas

  2. Pingback: UK Run 5 : Southampton | dansgoldchallenge

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