Run 132 : Liberia – Monrovia

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

Date : 14th January, 2018

Time :  51’ 14” (fastest time of the Jan 18 West Africa trip)

Number of runners : 30

Total distance run to date : 1320 km

Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2452288932

Media : national radio ; https://www.facebook.com/pg/LiberiaMarathon/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1778501598890745

I knew someone had done a good job publicising Run The World in Liberia because my taxi driver from the airport had heard all about on national radio. And the manager at the Hotel Cesaria had read about it on some forum.

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And I knew someone had done a good job organising the run because when I arrived at the JFK Medical Centre at 7.55 am – expecting the usual half hour assembling time – everyone else was already there and ready to go at the appointed time of 8 am.

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And go we did. Or they did anyway. Most of the runners had left me behind within the first two minutes. Now I could tell you that I’m not a morning person and that 8 am is far too early for me to function at my best. Which is true. I could also tell you that this was the second of my seven runs that week and that I was trying to conserve energy. Which was also true.

But the reality is that, despite running at the not completely pedestrian pace of 5 minutes per kilometre, most of my fellow runners were just too fast for me.

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A few of the runners sacrificed their personal times to run with me and I appreciated the company. (Even though I subsequently discovered, to my horror, that they all supported Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Man U.)

The route mostly went along Tubman boulevard and we ran past various points of interest including the headquarters George Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change party.

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Everyone in Liberia knows the George Weah story but for international readers who are less familiar with events in Liberia, George Weah was a famous footballer –  FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995 – who was elected president of the Country in 2017.

We also passed a number of churches in full song and, in Monrovia on a Sunday morning, ‘full song’ means an atmosphere and volume akin to a rock concert. Sounded like a lot of fun and I was sorely tempted to take breather from the run and pop into one of the services.

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We also passed a man selling a raccoon on the side of the street which is not something you often see in London (where I live) – but I understand that they’re good eating. (Since I originally published this blog, there has been some debate as to whether or not that really is a raccoon. Or something larger. All I can say is – that’s what I was told..)

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We ended up at the Samuel K Doe stadium (the venue for George Weah’s inauguration) where we underwent some vigorous warm down exercises (I wasn’t quite as flexible as the other runners…)

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an interview with the Inquirer

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and some footy banter which demonstrated again that, while the Liberians are lovely people, their football taste leaves something to be desired…not a single Spurs fan amongst them…though, to be fair, Barcelona’s not a bad choice…

And finally I knew someone had a good job a good job driving the pickup truck because we all got a lift back into town

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via a quick stop at the roadside garage to deal with a flat tyre.

It just remains for me to say a huge thank you for the great job done by Eunice, Juliane and Sulaiman Bah, Vice President of the Hill Social & Athletic Club. And to Heather and all the other runners for their company and support!

And if this blog has inspired you to think about running in Liberia, then you might want to consider the Liberia marathon.  Eunice and Juliane are involved so you know it’s going to be well organised!

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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.

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Liberia is a country on the West African coast. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometers (43,000 sq mi) and has a population of 4,503,000 people. English is the official language and over 20 indigenous languages are spoken. The country’s capital and largest city is Monrovia.

The Republic of Liberia began as a settlement of the American Colonization Society (ACS), who believed black people would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the United States The country declared its independence on July 26, 1847. The United Kingdom was the first country to recognize Liberia’s independence. The U.S. did not recognize Liberia’s independence until during the American Civil War on February 5, 1862. Between January 7, 1822 and the American Civil War, more than 15,000 freed and free-born black people who faced legislated limits in the U.S., and 3,198 Afro-Caribbeans, relocated to the settlement. The black settlers carried their culture and tradition with them to Liberia. The Liberian constitution and flag were modeled after those of the U.S. On January 3, 1848, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a wealthy, free-born African American from Virginia who settled in Liberia, was elected as Liberia’s first president after the people proclaimed independence.

Liberia was the first African republic to proclaim its independence, on July 26, 1847 and is Africa’s first and oldest modern republic. Internationally, Liberia was a founding member of the League of NationsUnited Nations and the Organisation of African Unity.

The Americo-Liberian settlers did not relate well to the indigenous peoples they encountered, especially those in communities of the more isolated “bush“, They knew nothing of their cultures, languages or animist religion. Encounters with tribal Africans in the bush often developed as violent confrontations. The Americo-Liberians developed as a small elite that held on to political power. It excluded the indigenous tribesmen from birthright citizenship in their own lands until 1904. Because of ethnocentrism and the cultural gap, the Americo-Liberians envisioned creating a western-style state to which the tribesmen should assimilate. They promoted religious organizations to set up missions and schools to educate the indigenous peoples.

Political tensions from the rule of William R. Tolbert resulted in a military coup in 1980 that overthrew his leadership soon after his death, marking the beginning of years-long political instability. Five years of military rule by the People’s Redemption Council and five years of civilian rule by the National Democratic Party of Liberia were followed by the First and Second Liberian Civil Wars. These resulted in the deaths of 250,000 people (about 8% of the population), the displacement of many more and shrunk Liberia’s economy by 90%.] A peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005, in which Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected President. Recovery proceeds but about 85% of the population live below the international poverty line. Liberia’s economic and political stability was threatened in the 2010s by an Ebola virus epidemic; it originated in Guinea in December 2013, entered Liberia in March 2014, and was declared officially ended on May 8, 2015.

George Weah is widely regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time. In 1995, he was named as a FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d’Or, becoming the first and to date only African player to win these awards.

Weah became involved in politics in Liberia following his retirement from football. He formed the Congress for Democratic Change and ran unsuccessfully for President in the 2005 election, losing to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the second round of voting. In the 2011 election, he ran unsuccessfully as Vice President alongside Winston Tubman. Weah was subsequently elected to the Liberian Senate for Montserrado County in the 2014 elections.

Weah was elected President of Liberia in the 2017 election, defeating the incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai, and sworn in on 22 January 2018.

World Bank Data

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

GDP                                               $2.1 bn     2016      $529 m      2000

Population                                   4.61 m      2016      2.88 m       2000

Primary school enrolment*     94 %         2015      113%         2000

CO2 Emissions**                        0.21           2014       0.15          2000

% below poverty line***          63.8 %       2007

Life expectancy at birth            62.0 yrs    2015      52.4 yrs    2000

GNI per capita                             $370          2016      $150         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 Liberia 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.

 

 

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Run 90 a : Ivory Coast – Abidjan

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

Date : 13th January, 2018

Time :  1h 14’ 05”

Number of runners : 2

Total distance run to date : 1310 km

Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2452288891

On my last trip to West Africa, I had a 90 minute stopover at Abidjan airport in the Ivory Coast. I thought it would be a good opportunity to tick off another country. So I set off on one of my most bonkers runs to date. Which ended up with me literally sprinting round the airport terminal trying to finish the run before I had to board my flight. (Things hadn’t gone entirely to plan…)

After I published the blog about the run, a friend dropped me a note saying, ‘Nice blog and all that but did you actually run in the Ivory Coast? I’m not sure an airport terminal counts.”

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I don’t want to completely rule out running in airport terminals as, while they’re not great places to run, there may be some countries where it’s the only safe way to complete my 10km. But I must admit the comment niggled. After all, who wants to have run in every country in the world – except that one country where you ran in an airport terminal?

So when the opportunity arose to revisit the Ivory Coast, as part of the latest trip to West Africa, I jumped at the chance. And this time I definitely got into the country – albeit at some unearthly hour in the morning after almost 20 hours of travel.

My companion for the run was Geoffrey ‘Malawian Gigolo’ Harawa. As you may have guessed from his nickname, Geoffrey is both a hasher and a Malawian. (I won’t delve further into the etymology of his hash name..)

Being a hasher, Geoffrey is used to trails through the countryside and he’d plotted a fascinating route for us. Between the airport perimeter

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and Abidjan’s lagoon, there’s an area of land populated by refugees (from Burkina Faso and Togo apparently.) It’s undeveloped and we ran along dirt tracks through vegetation with regular vignettes of village life. And lots of photo opportunities which, in the heat, weren’t altogether unwelcome.

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There’s no electricity or running water in this area and, in many ways, it was very different from most of my runs which usually take place on city streets or in city parks. However, despite the disparate setting, I couldn’t help noticing the four constants that I see in countries all over the world.

The first being the humble chicken. I have a lot of respect for vegan and vegetarians, and their beliefs, but I don’t know where the developing world would get its protein without chickens and their eggs. Or should it be the other way round? I’m never quite sure which comes first…

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I know, I know, it’s not a great photo. Turns out chickens are quite hard to photograph. However, if you look carefully, you will see a chicken in there somewhere.

The second is plastic. I’m not sufficiently expert on environmental issues to know where plastic ranks as a global problem but, based on what I see (Kosovo and the Marshall Islands spring to mind), it’s a huge concern.

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The third, and I hope I’m not going to offend anyone here, is that women seem to do a lot more of the work than men. I should stress that this is something I see all over the world and isn’t particular to the Ivory Coast. What’s that Liz? I should try looking in the mirror….hmm….(Most of the women we met didn’t want to be photographed so it’s another photo mainly of men I’m afraid.)

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The fourth is kids kicking a football around. Which was, as always, brilliant to see. (If anyone knows of a charity that does the simple thing of making sure kids all over the word have footballs, then please get in touch as I’m your man.)

Oh yes, and the final similarity with the rest of the world was that, if you say hello with a smile, then it’s remarkable how friendly people are in return. Here are a few words from Zadi (?) – put that man on TV, he’s a natural in front of the camera – wishing Run the World all the best.

Thank you Geoffrey for your time and your company – especially as I know you also had a hash that afternoon. It was a great run and I hope to see you in London one day!

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.

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Ivory Coast, also known as Côte d’Ivoire, is a sovereign state located in West Africa. Ivory Coast’s political capital is Yamoussoukro, and its economic capital and largest city is the port city of Abidjan. Its bordering countries are Guinea and Liberia in the west, Burkina Faso and Mali in the north, and Ghana in the east. The Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) is located south of Ivory Coast.

Prior to its colonization by Europeans, Ivory Coast was home to several states, including Gyaaman, the Kong Empire, and Baoulé. Two Anyi kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi, attempted to retain their separate identity through the French colonial period and after independence. Ivory Coast became a protectorate of France in 1843–1844 and was later formed into a French colony in 1893 amid the European scramble for Africa. Ivory Coast achieved independence in 1960, led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled the country until 1993. The country maintained close political and economic association with its West African neighbors while at the same time maintaining close ties to the West, especially France. Since the end of Houphouët-Boigny’s rule in 1993, Ivory Coast has experienced one coup d’état, in 1999, and two religion-grounded civil wars. The first took place between 2002 and 2007] and the second during 2010–2011. In 2000, the country adopted a new constitution.

Ivory Coast is a republic with a strong executive power invested in its President. Through the production of coffee and cocoa, the country was an economic powerhouse in West Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. Ivory Coast went through an economic crisis in the 1980s, contributing to a period of political and social turmoil. Changing into the 21st-century Ivorian economy is largely market-based and still relies heavily on agriculture, with smallholder cash-crop production being dominant.

The official language is French, with local indigenous languages also widely used. In total there are around 78 languages spoken in Ivory Coast. Popular religions include Christianity (primarily Roman Catholicism), Islam, and various indigenous religions.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for the Ivory Coast – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP                                               $36.4 bn     2016      $10.7 bn  2000

Population                                   23.7 m        2016      16.7 m      2000

Primary school enrolment*     94 %            2015       74 %        2000

CO2 Emissions**                        0.49            2014       0.41         2000

% below poverty line***          46.3 %        2015      38.4 5       2002

Life expectancy at birth            53.1 yrs      2015      46.7 yrs    2000

GNI per capita                             $1520         2013      $640         1995

*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 Ivory Coast performed in the global sporting arena in 2017:

Global Cup – 61st

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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Run For The Hills – It’s Time To Get That Prostate Checked!

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When I’m abroad talking to groups of runners, or to the media, I always say that, while cancer has never posed a bigger global threat, there are three things we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones :

  1. Donate to Cancer Research ;
  2. Live an active, healthy lifestyle (40% of cancers are avoidable!) ;
  3. Be vigilant – and do what you can to check for cancer and catch it early.

So, when I got the Movember email from Big D(arren) saying that he wanted us all to get checked for prostate cancer, and that this was more important to him than any donation we might make, I felt obliged to follow his advice.

In truth, the bit that really caught my eye in his email was that it’s apparently no longer necessary to have a DRE – Digital Rectal Examination. Instead you can just have a simple blood test (the PSA). Phew!

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So, when I was seeing my GP, Dr Ronald Arulnesan, last week (about a nasty little cough that I’d picked up on my last running trip) I mentioned the blood test. We discussed the PSA, including the fact that it can give false positives that can lead to unnecessary biopsies. Eventually we concluded that I should go ahead with the test.

At which stage he turned to his diary. To put in a date for my physical examination. Aaargh! It seemed I wasn’t going to get away without a DRE! Help!!

Now I don’t know why many men (yours truly included) are quite so uneasy about a finger up the bottom. It can’t just be about the size of the finger because, let’s be honest, something larger that way passeth most days. It is, I guess, an invasion of privacy in an area that, while often a source of humour, is also quite delicate. It may even be that your average heterosexual male is unduly sensitive about anything involving his bottom and another man.

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In any event I was feeling quite queasy as I showed up with my freshly showered body at the Highgate Group Practice for the dreaded appointment with Dr Arulnesan. We started with a little chat about my various other ailments and I found myself looking at the good doctor’s hands. Hmm. Not as small as I might have liked….

Anyway, let’s cut the crap (so to speak). What was it like ?

Well, it’s certainly uncomfortable. And undignified as you lie there with your knees pulled up towards your chest.

On the other hand, they use a lubricant, it doesn’t take very long and, if Dr Arulnesan is anything to go by, they’re well practiced in making the whole thing as painless as possible.

You know how, when you have an injection, you wouldn’t dream of making a fuss about it? In fact, since you’re a real man, you’d probably pretend you didn’t even feel it. Well, a DRE is a lot less painful than an injection. (And, believe me, I know what I’m talking about. I had an injection against every disease known to mankind before I started running round the world.)

Why is this all so important? Because approximately 11 000 men in the UK, and about 27 000 men in the US, die each year from prostate cancer. Globally, there are over a million new cases of prostate cancer recorded each year. Yet, if you catch it early, you have about a 98% chance of survival (decreasing to 26% if you catch it late.)

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So, if you have any of the symptoms, or you’re on the cusp of middle age (i.e. you’re over 50), man up, get your arse in gear, and get checked. I can’t tell you that you’ll enjoy it. But it’s not that bad and IT MIGHT SAVE YOUR LIFE!!!

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And thanks for asking. No, the DRE didn’t reveal any obvious problems. PSA is on Friday and I should get the results in the New Year.

Finally, since it’s the giving season, and since I don’t have any photos from the actual examination, here’s a picture of my bottom full of needles. Taken during an acupuncture session I had in the Caymans (to try and resolve yet another running related injury), it’s the best I could come up with. Merry Christmas one and all!

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Finally, finally, thank you Dr Arulnesan. you were great!

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Facts & Stats

All About Prostate Cancer From the UK’s NHS

Overview

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with over 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year.

Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs you have it for many years.Symptoms often only become apparent when your prostate is large enough to affect the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis).When this happens, you may notice things like an increased need to urinate, straining while urinating and a feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied. These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored, but they do not mean you definitely have prostate cancer. It is more likely that they are caused by something else, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (also known as BPH or prostate enlargement).

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis found only in men. About the size of a satsuma, it’s located between the penis and the bladder and surrounds the urethra.The main function of the prostate is to help in the production of semen. It produces a thick white fluid that is mixed with the sperm produced by the testicles, to create semen.

Why does prostate cancer happen?

The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown. However, certain things can increase your risk of developing the condition. The chances of developing prostate cancer increase as you get older. Most cases develop in men aged 50 or older.For reasons not yet understood, prostate cancer is more common in men of African-Caribbean or African descent, and less common in men of Asian descent.

Men who have first degree male relatives (such as a father or brother) affected by prostate cancer are also at slightly increased risk.

Tests for prostate cancer

There is no single test for prostate cancer. All the tests used to help diagnose the condition have benefits and risks, which your doctor should discuss with you.The most commonly used tests for prostate cancer are blood tests, a physical examination of your prostate (known as a digital rectal examination or DRE) and a biopsy.

The blood test, known as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, measures the level of PSA and may help detect early prostate cancer. Men are not routinely offered PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer, as results can be unreliable.This is because the PSA blood test is not specific to prostate cancer. PSA can be raised due to a large non-cancerous growth of the prostate (BPH), a urinary tract infection or inflammation of the prostate, as well as prostate cancer. Raised PSA levels also cannot tell a doctor whether a man has life-threatening prostate cancer or not. This means a raised PSA can lead to unnecessary tests and treatment.

However, you can ask to be tested for prostate cancer once the benefits and risks have been explained to you.

How is prostate cancer treated?

For many men with prostate cancer, treatment is not immediately necessary.If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, a policy of “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance” may be adopted. This involves carefully monitoring your condition. Some cases of prostate cancer can be cured if treated in the early stages. Treatments include surgically removing the prostate, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

Some cases are only diagnosed at a later stage when the cancer has spread. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, typically the bones, it cannot be cured and treatment is focused on prolonging life and relieving symptoms. All treatment options carry the risk of significant side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. For this reason, many men choose to delay treatment until there is a risk the cancer might spread.

As prostate cancer usually progresses very slowly, you can live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment. Nevertheless, it can have an effect on your life. As well as causing physical problems such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, a diagnosis of prostate cancer can understandably make you feel anxious or depressed.

UK Prostate Cancer Statistics from Prostate Cancer UK

Across the UK

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.
  • Over 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year – that’s 129 men every day.
  • Every 45 minutes one man dies from prostate cancer – that’s more than 11,000 men every year.
  • 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.
  • Over 330,000 men are living with and after prostate cancer.

 

US Prostate Cancer Statistics From Cancer.org

How common is prostate cancer?

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2017 are:

  • About 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer
  • About 26,730 deaths from prostate cancer

Risk of prostate cancer

About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer develops mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.

Deaths from prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer and colorectal cancer. About 1 man in 39 will die of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

For statistics related to survival, see Survival Rates for Prostate Cancer.

 

Global Statistics About Prostate Cancer from the World Cancer Research Fund International

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide.

Prostate cancer statistics

More than 1.1 million cases of prostate cancer were recorded in 2012, accounting for around 8 per cent of all new cancer cases and 15 per cent in men.

Age-adjusted incidence rates of prostate cancer have increased dramatically and this is largely because of the increased availability of screening for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in men without symptoms of the disease. This test leads to detection of many prostate cancers that are small and/or would otherwise remain unrecognised, and which may or may not develop further into higher stage disease.

The Continuous Update Project Panel made the following judgements; greater body fatness is probably a cause of advanced prostate cancer, and developmental factors (marked by adult attained height) are probably a cause of prostate cancer.

  • Martinique had the highest rate of prostate cancer, followed by Norway and France.
  • About 68 per cent of prostate cancer cases occurred in more developed countries.
  • The highest incidence of prostate cancer was in Oceania and Northern America; and the lowest incidence in Asia and Africa.

 

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Run 130 : Haiti – Port au Prince

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

Date : 17th November, 2017

Time :  55’ 02”

Number of runners : 7

Total distance run to date : 1300 km

Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2342396681

Media : https://www.facebook.com/USEmbassyHaiti/

“You can’t run round Port-au Prince at night time you poor, deluded idiot.”

That was the stark message from the UK’s Charge d’Affaires in Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti.

OK, since Caroline is a diplomat (and a very nice one at that as I subsequently discovered), she didn’t put it quite like that.  But I wouldn’t have blamed her if that’s how she felt. There she is, trying to look after the UK’s humanitarian and other interests in Haiti, when some mad Brit shows up on her doorstep looking for somewhere to run…

From afar, my impression has always been that Haiti has had far more than its fair share of tough times. Its always ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world ; it suffered enormously under the brutal regimes of ‘Papa Doc’ and ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier and their very scary Tontons Macoutes ;

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and it periodically gets hammered by natural disasters such as the massive earthquake in 2010, which hit Port au Prince (below) very hard,

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hurricane Matthew in 2016 and the current cholera epidemic (which was apparently introduced to Haiti by UN peacekeepers from Nepal.)

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So Caroline’s advice wasn’t a complete surprise. But it did leave me with a problem. Flight times meant that I was going to have to run at night (we did try to arrange it otherwise..) and there didn’t seem to be a sensible way forward. I was beginning to think I might be running around the hotel lobby when Caroline came up with the solution. She’d spoken to Vivian at the US Embassy and they’d very kindly agreed that I could run round their compound.

Hence I ended up being driven down the main road straight from the airport to the US embassy. Since this was about the only bit of Port au Prince I really saw in the daylight, it’s probably worth describing in a bit of detail. The road was clogged to a visibly polluting standstill, the pavements were even busier and the whole thing seemed like a hellish version of a London commute (and that’s saying something…). Except for one small detail. Lots of the people milling around were smiling, chatting and laughing. Which you don’t often see during the London rush hour – and which probably says a lot about the Haitian spirit.

Vivian met me at the embassy entrance, walked me through security and introduced me to the rest of that evening’s running team.

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There were seven of us in total including Tyler who is a budding young footballer (soccer player). With his best interests at heart, I taught him that, if anyone asks who you support, you should always say ‘Tottenham Hotspur’*. For those who feel this was questionable behaviour, I would point out that Kevin, one of my fellow runners, supports Sunderland because one of his friends told him it was a good idea. In comparison, I feel confident that I did the righteous thing. (Admittedly, it will be interesting to get Tyler’s view on this in about ten years’ time.)

I’m not going to describe the embassy compound in any detail in case there are any security implications but, suffice it to say, that, if you saw it, you would be in no doubt as to the identity of the regional superpower. No other country comes close to having a similar presence in this part of the world. Which, and this may not have been front of mind when they designed the compound, has the happy side-effect that, should you be attempting to run 10km in every country in the world, then you could run your Haitian 10k here.

One lap round the compound is approximately 0.7km – as long as you run up that ramp at the back where you get half a second of AC leaking out of a warehouse. (My favourite bit as, while the evening wasn’t hot, it was very humid.)

After 14 ½ laps we were able to call it a day, wring an extraordinary amount of liquid out of our tops (did I mention that it was humid?) and pose with our respective flags.

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Thank you Vivian and the US Embassy for letting me run in the compound. Enormously appreciated. And thank you Caroline for arranging the run and for dinner afterwards. I quite literally couldn’t have it without both of you. And thank you Tyler, and everyone who ran, for the warm welcome and the company.

As a postscript, and comment on the local security situation, I was chatting to the driver the next morning as we drove to the airport at oh dawn thirty. We got onto the remarkably expensive cost of the hotel shuttle. At which stage the driver turned to me and said, “You think this is expensive because you think this is a taxi service. But it’s not. Je suis un garde du corps. Et je suis armé” (“I’m a bodyguard. And I’m armed.”)  Put that like that, it did all seem quite reasonable…

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.

*Tottenham Hotspur are an English football (soccer) side and “by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen” (as the song goes).

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Haiti is a sovereign state located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti is 27,750 square kilometres (10,714 sq mi) in size and has an estimated 10.8 million people,] making it the most populous country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the second-most populous country in the Caribbean as a whole.

The region was originally inhabited by the indigenous Taíno people. Spain discovered the island on 5 December 1492 during the first voyage of Christopher Columbus across the Atlantic. When Columbus initially landed in Haiti, he had thought he had found India or Asia. On Christmas Day 1492, Columbus’ flagship the Santa Maria ran aground north of what is now Limonade. As a consequence, Columbus ordered his men to salvage what they could from the ship, and he created the first European settlement in the Americas, naming it La Navidad after the day the ship was destroyed.

The island was named La Española and claimed by Spain, which ruled until the early 17th century. Competing claims and settlements by the French led to the western portion of the island being ceded to France, which named it Saint-DomingueSugarcane plantations, worked by slaves brought from Africa, were established by colonists.

In the midst of the French Revolution (1789–1799), slaves and free people of colour revolted in the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), culminating in the abolition of slavery and the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte‘s army at the Battle of Vertières. Afterward the sovereign nation of Haiti was established on 1 January 1804 – the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the second republic in the Americas, and the only nation in the world established as a result of a successful slave revolt. The rebellion that began in 1791 was led by a former slave and the first black general of the French ArmyToussaint Louverture, whose military genius and political acumen transformed an entire society of slaves into an independent country. Upon his death in a prison in France, he was succeeded by his lieutenant, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who declared Haiti’s sovereignty and later became the first Emperor of Haiti, Jacques I. The Haitian Revolution lasted just over a dozen years; and apart from Alexandre Pétion, the first President of the Republic, all the first leaders of government were former slaves.

It has the lowest Human Development Index in the Americas. Most recently, in February 2004, a coup d’état originating in the north of the country forced the resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. A provisional government took control with security provided by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Contemporary history

After a period of disorder, in September 1957 Dr. François Duvalier was elected President of Haiti. Known as “Papa Doc” and initially popular, Duvalier was President until his death in 1971. He advanced black interests in the public sector, where over time people of color had predominated as the educated urban elite. He stayed in power by enlisting an organization known as Tontons Macoutes (“Bogeymen”), which maintained order by terrorizing the populace and political opponents. 40,000 to 60,000 Haitians are estimated to have been killed during the reign of the Duvalier father and son.

Haiti’s brief tourism boom was wiped out by the rule of Papa Doc Duvalier and his unstable government. When his son Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier succeeded him as President for Life, tourism returned in the 1970s. Vive la différence has long been Haiti’s national tourism slogan and its proximity to the United States made Haiti a hot attraction until the Duvalier regime was ousted in 1986.

Papa Doc’s son Jean-Claude Duvalier – also known as “Baby Doc” – led the country from 1971 until his ouster in 1986, when protests led him to seek exile in France. Army leader General Henri Namphy headed a new National Governing Council. General elections in November were aborted after dozens of inhabitants were shot in the capital by soldiers and Tontons Macoutes. Fraudulent elections followed. The elected President, Leslie Manigat, was overthrown some months later in the June 1988 Haitian coup d’état. The September 1988 Haitian coup d’état, which followed the St Jean Bosco massacre, revealed the increasing prominence of former Tontons Macoutes. General Prosper Avril led a military regime until March 1990.

The U.S.-led invasion in 1994 designed to remove the regime installed by the 1991 Haitian coup d’état

In December 1990, a former Catholic priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was elected President in the Haitian general election. In September of the following year, Aristide was overthrown by the military in the 1991 Haitian coup d’état. In 1994, a U.S. team negotiated the departure of Haiti’s military leaders and the peaceful entry of U.S. forces under Operation Uphold Democracy. This enabled the restoration of the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president. In October 1994, Aristide returned to Haiti to complete his term in office. Aristide vacated the presidency in February 1996. In the 1995 electionRené Préval was elected as president for a five-year term, winning 88% of the popular vote.

In November 1994, Hurricane Gordon brushed Haiti, dumping heavy rain and creating flash flooding that triggered mudslides. Gordon killed an estimated 1,122 people, although some estimates go as high as 2,200.

The November 2000 election returned Aristide to the presidency with 92% of the vote. The election had been boycotted by the opposition, then organized into the Convergence Démocratique, over a dispute in the May legislative elections. In subsequent years, there was increasing violence and human rights abuses. Aristide spent years negotiating with the Convergence Démocratique on new elections, but the Convergence’s inability to develop a sufficient electoral base made elections unattractive.

The National Palace following the 2010 Haiti earthquake

In 2004, a revolt began in northern Haiti. The rebellion eventually reached the capital, and Aristide was forced into exile, after which the United Nations stationed peacekeepers in Haiti. Some, including Aristide and his bodyguard, Franz Gabriel, stated that he was the victim of a “new coup d’état or modern kidnapping” by U.S. forces. Mrs. Aristide stated that the kidnappers wore U.S. Special Forces uniforms, but changed into civilian clothes upon boarding the aircraft that was used to remove Aristide from Haiti. The United Nations Stabilisation Mission (MINUSTAH) was established after the 2004 coup d’état and remains in the country to the present day. Boniface Alexandre assumed interim authority. René Préval was elected President in February 2006, following elections marked by uncertainties and popular demonstrations.

In 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne skimmed the north coast of Haiti, leaving 3,006 people dead in flooding and mudslides, mostly in the city of Gonaïves.[113]In 2008 Haiti was again struck by tropical storms; Tropical Storm FayHurricane GustavHurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike all produced heavy winds and rain. There were 331 dead and about 800,000 in need of humanitarian aid[  The state of affairs produced by these storms was intensified by already high food and fuel prices that had caused a food crisis and political unrest in April 2008.

On 12 January 2010, at 4:53pm local time, Haiti was struck by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake. This was the country’s most severe earthquake in over 200 years The 2010 Haiti earthquake was reported to have left up to 316,000 people dead and 1.6 million homeless,[117] though later reports found these numbers to have been grossly inflated, and put the death toll between 46,000 and 85,000. The country has yet to recover from the 2010 earthquake and a subsequent and massive Haiti cholera outbreakthat was triggered when cholera-infected waste from a MINUSTAH peacekeeping station contaminated the country’s main river, the Artibonite. The country has yet to fully recover, due to both the severity of the damage Haiti endured in 2010, as well as a government that was ineffective well before the earthquake.[120]

General elections had been planned for January 2010 but were postponed due to the earthquake. The elections were held on 28 November 2010 for the senate, the parliament and the first round of the presidential elections. The run-off between Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat took place on 20 March 2011, and preliminary results, released on 4 April, named Michel Martelly the winner.[121] On 7 February 2016, Michel Martelly stepped down as president without a successor, but only after a deal was reached for a provisional government and leaving Prime Minister Evans Paul in power “until an interim president is chosen by both chambers of Parliament.”[122]

In 2013, Haiti called for European nations to pay reparations for slavery and establish an official commission for the settlement of past wrongdoings. The Economist wrote, “Any assistance to the region should be carefully targeted; and should surely stem from today’s needs, not the wrongs of the past.” The topic, however, has more than a passing reference to a country that, as Lord Anthony Gifford wrote, “was forced to pay compensation to the government of France.”

On 4 October 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall near Les Anglais, making it the worst hurricane to strike the nation since Hurricane Cleo in 1964. The storm brought deadly winds and rain which left Haiti with a large amount of damage to be repaired. With all of the resources in the country destroyed, Haiti received aid from the United Nations of around US$120 million. The death total was approximately 3,000. Thousands of people were displaced due to damage to infrastructure. Also, the cholera outbreak has been growing since the storm hit Haiti. With additional flooding after the storm, cholera continued to spread beyond the control of officials. The storm also caused damage to hospitals and roads which created a larger problem in helping victims and moving resources. The devastation and damage that Hurricane Matthew caused was unpredictable and left Haiti in a state of emergency.

World Bank Data

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

GDP                                               $8.02 bn    2016      $3.95 bn  2000

Population                                   10.85 m     2016      8.55 m      2000

Primary school enrolment*     NA                              112 %       1998

CO2 Emissions**                        0.27            2014      0.16          2000

% below poverty line***          58.5%         2012      NA

Life expectancy at birth            63.0 yrs      2015      57.7 yrs   2000

GNI per capita                             $780          2016       $470        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 Haiti performed in the global sporting arena in 2016:

Global Cup – 131st

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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Run 131 : Bermuda – Hamilton

rtw bermuda 11

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

Date : 19th November, 2017

Time :  54’ 50”

Number of runners : 266

Total distance run to date : 1310 km

Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2342396698

Media : http://www.royalgazette.com/news/article/20171121/dan-is-running-round-world

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Bermuda-Timing-334634213243684/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1875790929127997

When I first envisaged Run the World, I imagined that I would run most of my 10 ks as part of organised races round the world. It then transpired that there isn’t always a race at 10 pm on a Monday evening – or even at 5 am on a Tuesday morning. Which is unfortunate because, more often than not, those are the only options my schedule allows.

The net result is that, while I’ve often joined running clubs for their training session, I’ve never actually done a 10 k as part of an organised race.

So you can imagine my excitement when the lovely people at the Swans Running Club and the Mid Atlantic Athletic Club (MAAC) told me that they’d arranged for me to run in the Bacardi 8km organised by MAAC. (They’d also arranged to pick me up from the airport at an antisocial hour on the Saturday evening – thank you Keith and Marla – and then from the hotel before the run on the Sunday morning – thank you Sharon and Chris.)

Now, the more astute mathematicians amongst you will have noticed that the race was 8km long. And that this is less than my mandated distance of 10km. We’d also picked up on this so Sharon, Chris, Marla, I and a couple of others went for a pre-race 2km in central Hamilton.

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before making our way to the start line.

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And off we went.

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I mostly ran with Chris who, as Club President, seemed to know everyone so it was very social run. ( I should probably note at this stage that Chris was returning from serious injury. I doubt that I could have kept pace with him otherwise…)

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At the 7km mark, I thought, ‘I’ve run 59km this week – all at a sensible, energy conserving pace to help me to get through all the runs and the travel. I’m going to give it a go for the last km to see how I do’. I explained my thought to Chris and set off.

Frankly, I was hoping to put in a sub 4 minute kilometre and show them that I can still run a bit. (Not really sure who ‘they’ are…or why I wanted to prove anything to ‘them’… but I guess that’s a race environment for you.)

Sadly for me, the next half kilometre was all uphill and I missed my target by 15 seconds. Still, I did gain a few places and ended up 100th – out of 266.

 

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Not that great a performance but an excellent race – well organised, well marshalled and well provisioned. I really enjoyed both the run and the company.

Here are a couple of videos of the race for anyone’s who’s interested.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6CmpoCRwJ4

https://www.facebook.com/BERMEMES/videos/1516658231736554/

I thought that was going to be about it. But no, this was a proper, full blown event.

In front of the Bacardi building in Hamilton there is a large terrace and an even larger lawn. Which was used first for a post run spread and then a medal ceremony. The medal winners included Sharon and Scott (who was interviewing me at the time for the Bermuda Royal Gazette ). Yours truly was given a large bottle of Bacardi Exquisito rum. Which will be turned into Dark ‘n’ Stormys – Bermuda’s signature cocktail – at the next appropriate occasion. (Apparently the Dark ‘n’ Stormy name is trademarked so I hope no-one’s planning to sue me…)

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I thought that was going to be it again. But wrong again. That afternoon Chris and Sharon took me on a tour of Bermuda which really is as pretty an island as you’re ever likely to come across. Not just for its famous beaches

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and pink sand

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but also for the fact that around every corner there’s a stunning view.

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I’ll certainly be back one day – quite likely for the Bermuda Triangle Challenge weekend in January (organised by the Bermuda National Athletics Association) which involves a mile race on the Friday, a 10km on the Saturday and a full and a half marathon on the Sunday. Lots of international runners make the trip and it is, by all accounts, a fantastic weekend.

It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Sharon, Chris, Keith, Marla, Helen, Scott, Bacardi, photographer Tony  and everyone else who helped make my trip to Bermuda so memorable!

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.

Photographs courtesy of Tony Bean and Sharon Craig.

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 1,070 km (665 mi) east-southeast of Cape HatterasNorth Carolina; 1,236 km (768 mi) south of Cape Sable IslandNova Scotia; and 1,578 km (981 mi) north of Puerto Rico. The capital city is Hamilton.

Bermuda’s economy is based on offshore insurance and reinsurance, and tourism, the two largest economic sectors.[5][6] Bermuda had one of the world’s highest GDP per capita for most of the 20th century. Recently, its economic status has been affected by the global recession. It has a subtropical climate.[  Bermuda is the northernmost point of the Bermuda Triangle, a region of sea in which, according to legend, a number of aircraft and surface vessels have disappeared under supposedly unexplained or mysterious circumstances. The island is in the hurricane belt and prone to related severe weather; however, it is somewhat protected by a coral reef that surrounds the island and its position at the north of the belt, which limits the direction and severity of approaching storms.

Bermuda’s pink sand beaches and clear, cerulean blue ocean waters are popular with tourists. Many of Bermuda’s few hotels are located along the south shore of the island. In addition to its beaches, there are a number of sightseeing attractions. Historic St George’s is a designated World Heritage SiteScuba divers can explore numerous wrecks and coral reefs in relatively shallow water (typically 30–40 ft or 9–12 m in depth), with virtually unlimited visibility. Many nearby reefs are readily accessible from shore by snorkellers, especially at Church Bay.

Bermuda’s most popular visitor attraction is the Royal Naval Dockyard, which includes the Bermuda Maritime Museum. Other attractions include the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, the Botanical Gardens and Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, lighthouses, and the Crystal Caves with stalactites and underground saltwater pools. It is not possible to rent a car on the island; public transport and taxis are available or visitors can hire scooters for use as private transport.

The current ruling party in Bermuda is the Progressive Labour party, commonly referred to as the PLP. They were voted into power in July 2017 after Bermuda was ruled by the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) for 5 years, from 2012 to 2017. David Burt is currently (2017) the Premier of Bermuda replacing Michael Dunkley who led the OBA.

World Bank Data

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

GDP                                               $5.57 bn     2013      $3.48 bn  2000

Population                                   65.3 k          2016      61.8 k       2000

Primary school enrolment*     90%             2015       101 %       2001

CO2 Emissions**                        8.84            2014       8.36          2000

% below poverty line***          NA

Life expectancy at birth            81.0 yrs      2015      77.9 yrs     2000

GNI per capita                             $106140     2013      $34290     1995

*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 Bermuda performed in the global sporting arena in 2017:

Global Cup – 104th

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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Run 129 : Dominican Republic – Santo Domingo

rtw dom rep 11

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

Date : 16th November, 2017

Time :  53’ 33”

Number of runners : 15

Total distance run to date : 1290 km

Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2342396661

Media : https://diariodigital.com.do/2017/11/14/britanico-dan-thompson-recorra-republica-dominicana.html

https://www.listindiario.com/el-deporte/2017/11/14/490462/britanico-que-recorre-10k-visitara-a-la-rd

http://aplatanaonews.com/deportista-britanico-inicia-recorrido-de-10k-en-busca-de-implantar-nueva-marca-mundial/

https://www.facebook.com/SantoDomingoHHH/

https://www.facebook.com/stgeorgerd

The world is an endlessly fascinating place and I rarely, if ever, visit a country without it being memorable in some way. The people I meet, the sights I see, the run itself. There’s always something special.

And then, every so often, there’s a country that’s an absolute jewel in the crown. One such country was the Dominican Republic.

rtw dom rep 12

Mind you, the day hadn’t started well (in San Juan). I was so tired that I slept through my alarm clock and only woke up when the hotel rang to say that my taxi was waiting. I looked at my watch. It was 6.08 am and my flight was due to leave at 7.50. Detailed calculations revealed that it was unlikely I’d get to the airport the prescribed two hours in advance.

I dressed and packed at pace, jumped into the taxi and blurted out that I needed to get to the airport as quickly as possible. Nothing happened.

My driver wasn’t in car. He was helping himself to a coffee in the hotel café.

He eventually showed up, turned the radio to 11 and put his foot down. I tried to get him to slow down and turn the radio off – but he couldn’t hear me. With ears bleeding from the radio, and ribs dislocated from the G forces, I was deposited at the airport.

I rushed to check in and then looked at my watch. 6.33am.

25 minutes from waking up to checking in. If only all travel could be that quick.

The taxi at the other end wasn’t much better – was that coffee that had been spilt all over the back seat? – but once I got to my hotel in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, things improved markedly.

When a country goes well its usually because someone has done a great job of promoting the run locally. In the Dominican Republic that person was Mike O’Kelly.

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Mike works in the mining industry and is GM of the local Hash Harriers (for anyone interested in learning more about the Hash Harriers, pls see the Estonian and Ghanaian blogs.)

Mike had arranged some press coverage in the week leading up to the run (see media links above) and for the press and TV to come down for the start of the run in the Parque Independecia. Ambassador Chris Campbell and Laura from the British Embassy were also good enough to join us.

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After multiple photos and various interviews – most of which Mike and the Ambassador  did due to their superior Spanish (and media skills…) –  we were ready to go.

There were about 15 of us at the start including a number of local hashers in their AGPU (Annual General P*ss Up) tops. We set off for the sea shore and the road Google maps tells me is called Av George Washington (but which I think the locals were calling Malecon.)  We went west almost as far as Centro de los Heroes before retracing our steps

rtw dom rep 9

and then following our police escort – another top class piece of O’Kelly organisation –

rtw dom rep 4

through the back streets of the Zona Colonial to the finish line in Parque Colon.

rtw dom rep 10

Altogether an excellent run and one which, in true hasher style, we subsequently celebrated over beer, plantain chips and salsa in a local bar.

rtw dom rep 5

As we also raised quite a lot of money for Cancer Research, I don’t think I could have had any complaints if my time in Santo Domingo had finished there. However, the next morning I was invited to talk at St George’s School which was founded by the legendary Mrs Tedeja OBE. It was a great opportunity to talk about Run the World, Cancer Research and the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle in the fight against cancer (and other diseases). And it was a lot of fun answering 30 minutes of questions from the students after the talk.

Today our Sophomores were visited by Dan Thompson. Dan has undertaken to run 10k in every country by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. With his Run the World Challenge, Dan is promoting the physical and mental health benefits of sport and physical activity, and raising money for cancer research. It was a great honor to meet you! 🇩🇴🇬🇧
From the St George’s Instagram account “Today our Sophomores were visited by Dan Thompson. Dan has undertaken to run 10k in every country by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. With his Run the World Challenge, Dan is promoting the physical and mental health benefits of sport and physical activity, and raising money for cancer research. It was a great honor to meet you!”

OK, so that’s a blatant piece of self-promotion but it is important to keep hammering home the message about why we should all be physically active. On that note, if anyone knows an audience that would benefit from a healthy living talk – dressed up in a wrapper of a madman’s adventures running round the world – then I’m your man.

It just remains for me to say a huge thanks to Mike, Ambassador Campbell, Laura, Mrs Maureen Tedeja, everyone else who joined the run and the staff and pupils at St. George’s. It was a pleasure meeting you all and I hope to be back in Santo Domingo one of these days!

rtw dom rep 3

Finally, for anyone’s who interested, here’s a video of the run.

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.

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

The Dominican Republic is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean region which it shares with the nation of Haiti, The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation by area (after Cuba) at 48,445 square kilometers (18,705 sq mi), and third by population with approximately 10 million people, of which approximately three million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city.

Christopher Columbus landed on the island on December 5, 1492, which the native Taíno people had inhabited since the 7th century. The colony of Santo Domingo became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, the oldest continuously inhabited city, and the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World. After more than three hundred years of Spanish rule the Dominican people declared independence in November 1821.

The newly independent Dominicans were forcefully annexed by Haiti in February 1822. Independence came 22 years later after victory in the Dominican War of Independence in 1844. (I was told that there’s still considerable resentment towards Haiti over the annexation.)

Over the next 72 years the Dominican Republic experienced mostly internal conflicts and a brief return to colonial status before permanently ousting Spanish rule during the Dominican War of Restoration of 1865. A United States occupation lasted eight years between 1916 and 1924, and a subsequent calm and prosperous six-year period under Horacio Vásquez Lajara was followed by the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo until 1961. A civil war in 1965, the country’s last, was ended by U.S. military occupation and was followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquín Balaguer, 1966–1978. Since then, the Dominican Republic has moved toward representative democracy[ and has been led by Leonel Fernández for most of the time since 1996. Danilo Medina, the Dominican Republic’s current president, succeeded Fernandez in 2012, winning 51% of the electoral vote over his opponent ex-president Hipólito Mejía.

The Dominican Republic has the ninth-largest economy in Latin America and is the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. Over the last two decades, the Dominican Republic has had one of the fastest-growing economies in the Americas – with an average real GDP growth rate of 5.4% between 1992 and 2014. GDP growth in 2014 and 2015 reached 7.3 and 7.0%, respectively, the highest in the Western Hemisphere. In the first half of 2016 the Dominican economy grew 7.4% continuing its trend of rapid economic growth. Recent growth has been driven by construction, manufacturing, tourism, and mining. The country is the site of the second largest gold mine in the world, the Pueblo Viejo mine.

The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. A geographically diverse nation, the Dominican Republic is home to both the Caribbean’s tallest mountain peak, Pico Duarte, and the Caribbean’s largest lake and point of lowest elevation, Lake Enriquillo. The island has an average temperature of 26 °C (78.8 °F) and great climatic and biological diversity. The country is also the site of the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress built in the Americas, located in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone, a World Heritage Site. Music and sport are of great importance in the Dominican culture, with Merengue and Bachata as the national dance and music, and baseball as the favorite sport.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for Puerto Rico – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP                                               $71.6 bn    2016     $24.0 bn   2000

Population                                   10.6 m       2016      8.56 m      2000

Primary school enrolment*      103%         2015      114 %       2009

CO2 Emissions**                        2.07            2014      2.31          2000

% below poverty line***          32.4%         2015      32%          2000

Life expectancy at birth            73.7 yrs      2015       70.6 yrs   2000

GNI per capita                             $6390          2013      $2630     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 the Dominican Republic performed in the global sporting arena in 2016:

Global Cup – 92nd

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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Run 128 : Puerto Rico – San Juan

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

Date : 15th November, 2017

Time :  1h 07’ 47”

Number of runners : 75

Total distance run to date : 1280 km

Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2342396644

Media : http://maratonespr.com/?p=6138 ;

https://www.facebook.com/maratonespr.running  ; 

https://www.facebook.com/Fit2RunSanJuan/

I hope I won’t upset anyone in Puerto Rico if I say that, seen from the distance of chilly London, it feels like Puerto Rico has been in the international news more often than usual in recent months.

First we had the global phenomenon that was Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’ which, at 4.4 billion views and counting, is the most watched song ever on YouTube.  (Since ‘Despacito’ translates as ‘Slowly’ I’ve often thought that it would be an appropriate theme tune for my runs around the world. In fact, Luis, Justin, Daddy, it occurs to me that a charity version of the single in aid of Run the World / Cancer Research (or Puerto Rico) might be a good idea. To assist with this ‘never going to happen in a billion years’ project, I’ve re-written Justin’s opening verse – please see below.)

Then there were the hurricanes Irma – which severely clipped Puerto Rico – and Maria – which went straight across Puerto Rico devastating much of the island.

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And then there’s been the ensuing debate around President Trump’s response to the hurricane damage which has, again, made headlines round the world.

I’m  almost always excited to fly into new countries but all this meant I was particularly fascinated to be flying into San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. It’s a  big city of 400 000 inhabitants and, at first sight, it looked less damaged than St Croix had the day before. Probably as a result of being 25 miles to the north of Maria’s epicentre.

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However, the ongoing issue for everyone in San Juan is not just the physical damage – it’s that the electricity is still, at best, unreliable. (On the day I was there, Puerto Rico’s governor was in Washington asking for $17 billion to fix the electricity infrastructure). And, sure enough, when I got to my hotel, the generator had broken down and there was no electricity. (In fact it turned out that they’d cancelled the booking two weeks previously because of ongoing problems with the power supply – but we never received the message in the UK.)

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My hotel the Comfort inn the spent the next 2 hours trying to find somewhere else for me to stay – which was very good of them. But between the electricity problems and the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) personnel already booked into the local hotels, there wasn’t a room to be had. Eventually, after a few hours, they managed to fix their generator and, much to my relief, I was able to check in.

And get ready for that evening’s run.

We met at Parque Luis Munoz Rivera as the sun was setting. Angel Durant, who runs maratonespr – a site which covers marathons and all things running in Puerto Rico – had, with support from Matt and Fit 2 run team, done a great job in publicising the event and there were 75 of us as at the start.

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We set off along the coastal road which is used for a lot of San Juan’s runs. (In common with a number of San Juan’s roads, it has a cordoned off cycle lane and not too many cyclist – which makes it ideal for running.)

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Before heading up a notoriously sharp hill

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to San Juan’s old town and its famous fort – Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

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We stopped there for photos and what should have been a great view over the city and the harbour. Except that, due to the citywide power failure, everything was pitch black. Apart from us runners because most of us were either wearing a luminescent wrist band or carrying a torch. Which made for a running stream of lights which actually looked pretty magical.

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From the fort we made our way down to the port and back through town to the Parque with everyone smiling, laughing and chatting for much of the way.

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It was a great run and I’d like to say ‘muchas gracias’ to Angel, Matt and everyone who joined us on the run (pls see below for more photos). And to the people of San Juan who were uniformly friendly throughout my visit.

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As a postscript, as soon as I got back to my hotel, I headed straight to the shower. It felt great after spending one night in St Croix without hot water. Only one night and I really felt it! There are people in the Caribbean who have been without electricity and hot water since the hurricanes in September – with the prospect of months to go before those in the rural areas are reconnected. Run the World studiously avoids politics so I’ll just say that everyone affected has my deepest sympathy.

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.

Despacito Run the World remix. (Best enjoyed while listening to the original.)

Joggin’ over in my direction
2-0-6 countries, it’s such a blessin’, yeah
Turn every situation into runnin’, yeah
Oh-oh, you wake me
At sunrise on the darkest day
Got me feelin’ pheromones
Make me wanna savor every step slowly, slowly
Trainers fit me tailor-made, love to put them on
Run the world, know how to turn it on
The way sweat dribble on my ear, the only words I wanna hear
Baby, take it slow so we can run long

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Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Puerto Rico (Spanish for “Rich Port”) is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea.

The capital and most populous city is San Juan. Its official languages are Spanish and English, though Spanish predominates. The island’s population is approximately 3.4 million. Puerto Rico’s history, tropical climate, natural scenery, traditional cuisine, and tax incentives make it a destination for travelers from around the world.

Originally populated by the indigenous Taíno people, the island was claimed in 1493 by Christopher Columbus for Spain during his second voyage. Later it endured invasion attempts from the French, Dutch, and British. In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States acquired Puerto Rico under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.

Puerto Ricans are by law natural-born citizens of the United States and may move freely between the island and the mainland. As it is not a state, Puerto Rico does not have a vote in the United States Congress, which governs the territory with full jurisdiction under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950. A 2012 referendum showed a majority (54% of those who voted) disagreed with “the present form of territorial status”. A second question asking about a new model, had full statehood the preferred option among those who voted for a change of status, although a significant number of people did not answer the second question of the referendum. Another fifth referendum was held on June 11, 2017, with “Statehood” and “Independence/Free Association” initially as the only available choices. At the recommendation of the Department of Justice, an option for the “current territorial status” was added. The referendum showed an overwhelming support for statehood, with 97.18% voting for it, although the voter turnout had a historically low figure of only 22.99% of the registered voters casting their ballots.

In late September 2017, the category 5 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico causing devastating damage. The island’s electrical grid was largely destroyed, with repairs expected to take months to complete, provoking the largest power outage in American history. Recovery efforts were somewhat slow in the first few months, and over 200,000 residents had moved to Florida alone by late November 2017.

Hurricane Maria was the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, and the most intense tropical cyclone worldwide thus far in 2017. 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, second Category 5 hurricane, and the deadliest storm of the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

Post hurricane recovery

In late September 2017, Hurricane Maria hit the island as a Category 4 storm causing severe damage to homes, other buildings and infrastructure. The recovery as of late November was slow but progress had been made. Electricity was restored to two-thirds of the island, although there was some doubt as to the number of residents getting reliable power. The vast majority had access to water but were still required to boil it. The number still living in shelters had dropped to 982 with thousands of others living with relatives. The official death toll at the time was 58 but some sources indicated that the actual number is much higher. A dam on the island was close to failure and officials were concerned about additional flooding from this source.

Thousands had left Puerto Rico, with close to 200,000 having arrived in Florida alone. The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at New York’s Hunter College estimated that some half million people, about 14% of the population, may permanently leave by 2019.

The total damage on the island was estimated as up to $95 billion. By the end of November, FEMA had received over a million applications for aid and had approved about a quarter of those. The US government had agreed in October to provide funding to rebuild and up to $4.9 billion in loans to help the island’s government. FEMA had $464 million earmarked to help local governments rebuild public buildings and infrastructure. Bills for other funding were being considered in Washington but little progress had been made on those.

El Morro

Lying on the northwestern-most point of the islet of Old San Juan, Castillo San Felipe del Morro is named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. The fortification, also referred to as el Morro or ‘the promontory,’ was designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay, and defend the Spanish colonial port city of San Juan from seaborne enemies.

In 1983, the citadel was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in conjunction with the San Juan National Historic Site. Over two million visitors a year explore the castillo, making it one of Puerto Rico’s leading tourist attractions. Facing the structure, on the opposite side of the bay, a smaller fortification known as El Cañuelo complemented the castillo’s defense of the entrance to the bay.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for Puerto Rico – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP                                               $103 bn     2013      $61.7 bn   2000

Population                                   3.41 m       2016      3.81 m       2000

Primary school enrolment*      89.7%        2014      93.8 %       2009

CO2 Emissions**                        NA

% below poverty line***          NA

Life expectancy at birth            79.6 yrs     2015       76.7 yrs   2000

GNI per capita                             $19320      2013      $10310      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 Puerto Rico performed in the global sporting arena in 2016:

Global Cup – 97th

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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