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This February will mark my third trip across the island withWork and the Run Across Haiti. I have had many people ask me if it is easier or harder knowing exactly what I am getting myself into, and the answer I tend to give is simply “Yes!”
It is harder in that I am not getting any younger. At a mere 42 years old, I can still hang with the youngins on the road (and even the dodgeball court). But the recovery pains ring a lot louder these days. And the fundraising is a bit tougher in a great way. There are two other runners from Columbus going to Haiti this year, Jalyn Devereaux and Jackie Murrer, so more creativity is required on my part in an area that is admittedly not one of my strengths.
Running a marathon on a treadmill 5K at a time with 50 minute breaks as part of my fundraising efforts? I don't mind running on the hamster wheel, but doing it over nearly 11 ½ hours...woof.
And then there is knowing the road ahead. The constant attentiveness required to navigate the bustling roads of Haiti. The mountain climbs that have us climbing for 10 straight kilometers. And then the next one. Mon gen mon. Mountains beyond mountains. The oppressive heat of day 4. The memories of me puking along the road. And the pain of the building miles…
During last year's RAH, Work’s Haitian Country Manager, Jules, told the runners, “Honestly, my heart is broken. Seeing you suffering like that just to help some people that you didn’t even know for a very long time. Thanks for all of this. This is not only about running, this is HOPE.”
To Jules I would say that is a privilege to put our bodies through this. We may have been strangers at the start of that first Run Across Haiti four years ago, but now, we are friends. And even with a language barrier Haiti has shown me a richness in culture, generosity, and love in ways that I consider to be milestones on my life. Being given shade, a chair, and water by a pair of women when I was ill alongside the road; the day that my wife and I spent in Menelas with Jules and meeting the kid we sponsor, Jolince, and his brother, Lucson; the generosity Jolince showed us when we visited his home. These are things far more meaningful to me than an average PR that won't even get an age group award at a local race.
This year's Run Across Haiti will be easier knowing that while there, I can look around and embrace Haiti and know that it will embrace me back. I can draw on the strength and resiliency of her people. I can laugh with friends, old and new. My teammates and I will draw strength from each other, knowing that we are pressing on toward the same goal. And I can suffer a bit, knowing that a few weeks of discomfort will result in funds being used to generate lasting change in the lives of some very special people.
So Jules, this suffering is a way that I can hug you, Menelas, and Molea and say that I love you guys and stand with you. A marathon on a treadmill to help shine the spotlight on the beauty of Haiti and the good work that you and Work have done these past 4 years. Totally worth it along with the 200+ miles coming up in February. So here's to more people accompanying us in building HOPE!