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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..)
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…)
an interview with the Inquirer
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
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!
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 Nations, United 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.
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.