Overall Rating
Overall Rating (1 Review)
5
(1 Ratings)(1 Review)
DIFFICULTY
5
SCENERY
5
PRODUCTION
3
SWAG
3
LET’S GO HAITI (LGH) MARATHON is the company behind the Port-au-Prince, Haiti Marathon and Half. The annual race is the only marathon and half in Haiti and takes place every February after the Haiti carnival. It is a movement designed to encourage the healthy lifestyle in Haiti, give the youth … MORE
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    Profile photo of Donn Raymond
    Donnald69 FIRST-TIMER '17

    Haiti is a wonderful place. Unusual in every sense of the word. A big city, little diversity, the very rich and the very poor. This marathon will be possibly the … MORE

    Haiti is a wonderful place. Unusual in every sense of the word. A big city, little diversity, the very rich and the very poor. This marathon will be possibly the most unusual experience ever, as a marathon. The race website states “capped at 1000 runners”. Anticipating it to sell out fast, I signed up early. Imagine my surprise when at the dinner/briefing the evening before, I learned there were 15 runners, approximately. Now there were reasons it was smaller than “normal”. The date had been changed to accommodate the presidential election. Many people dropped out. But only 15 marathoners, approximately. 7 countries were represented. We were informed at the safety briefing that “It was best to run together”. Wasn’t certain what was meant by that. The time of the marathon was originally scheduled for 4 a.m. due to the heat. Somehow it was changed to 5 a.m., but then several runners complained and the time was returned to the original 4 a.m. time. It was Haiti, in the caribbean, after all, and the heat and humidity could be stifling, even at 4 a.m. So at 3 a.m. we were picked up at the host hotel, the Royal Oasis, and shuttled a short distance to the start line. It was dark, it was warm, but not hot. A slight breeze was nice. There were “approximately” 15 of us at the start line. By 5 a.m. we were ready to go. The marathon started out high in the hills of Petionville, a rather large suburb of Port au Prince. The first 13ish miles was run slowly and steadily downhill. The final 13ish miles were run back up those same hills. In the dark of the morning, we will be running downhill, and in the heat of the day, we will be running uphill. Hmmmm. Listening to the safety meeting advice, although also planned beforehand, my friend Carrie and I ran together. We took our time running downhill. This was Haiti, and all around Haiti one will see animals. Not wild, just wandering animals. Pigs, goats, cows, sheep and chickens. Wandering. Everywhere or anywhere. Wandering. We were promised water stops every 2 miles, and signs would be posted at any point that the runner must turn. If you do not see a sign, DO NOT TURN. There were maybe, 3 water stops in the dark, on the downhill portion of the marathon. The signs were also quite obvious and this made the route, obvious. My friend Carrie decided to only run the first 13.1 miles, and luckily, we had a police escort which was quickly followed by a medical vehicle, behind us. So she jumped in. The privilege of having only 15 runners, approximately, meant very personal service and escorts. I was now alone, and I am guessing that there were about 10 runners somewhere in front of me. Since the water situation had been fairly regular, I handed my camelback to my friend Carrie, and took off to make up some time on the 10 people or so in front of me. BIG MISTAKE. First of all, I did not see another water stop the rest of the run. The signage also came to a complete halt. I ran, and walked, and ran, up a very steep hill. I did catch several other runner/walkers, but continued on. Because there were no signs, I never turned, I just ran and ran and well, mostly walked. I am now in the heat of the day, sweating profusely, certain I am lost in a very large, crowded congested city, and oh yeah, very thirsty. Around mile 19, a policeman on a motorbike pulled up alongside me and somehow managed to ask if I was with the marathon. I answered “wi, wi”, in my best creole. I then demonstrated that I was incredibly thirsty, and he took off. Thank goodness he understood, because about a mile later, this nice police officer showed up with 2 baggies of water. I quickly drank one, and saved the other, because I still had 6 miles to go. He escorted me the next 3 miles, and although I never did see a sign, he was able to get me on the right path, and on my way to completing this grueling run. When I did cross the finish line, my garmin showed 24.5 miles, which means either I was never on the course and the man in the uniform just escorted me to the finish line, or else, the course was considerably short. There was no fanfare at the finish. I had to beg for something to drink. Eventually the director found me and asked how long I had been done. As it turns out, I later found, that nobody ran 26.2 miles, most people never even finished, and no one was even certain who was still on the course.
    I travel to Haiti once a year to volunteer at a medical clinic. I absolutely adore this country and the resilience of the people. They have been dealt a very short stick, corrupt politicians, and poverty at levels that I have never witnessed anywhere else that I have traveled. But they have a marathon. Still in its infancy, with a lot of improvement in its future, it is nonetheless, a real, bonafide marathon. When I asked the race director (of Haitian descent, but lives in New York), why he runs a marathon here, he stated “Every great country deserves to have a marathon”. Haiti is indeed a great country. So with everything I have just reported, the dysfunction, lack of signage, no water stops, animals and vehicles in your pathway, why would one ever decide to travel to Port au Prince to run this marathon. My answer is simple. This is the greatest experience that I have ever had at a marathon. You get to see this country, bare bones and all, you see the poverty, the congestion, the real Haiti. And you get to see it over a 26 mile (more or less) run through a great city. Do NOT run this marathon alone. Bring along a friend and run together. Walk if you must, but experience Port au Prince like no one ever has. I will even join you, if you ask. I feel this strongly about this country and what a marathon can mean to the people here. My favorite part of the marathon? In the last couple of miles, you walk through an extremely congested market. I literally jumped over chickens and produce laid out on blankets. I became part of the culture and I enjoyed it immensely. Run this marathon for an intense experience, but please, do not attempt to set any records. You will be sorely disappointed.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

    2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    Mike Sohaskey Mar 18, 2017 at 2:30pm

    WOW, gripping writeup Donn. Definitely not a marathon for everyone, but that said one I'd love to run. More than the miles (24, 25, 26, close enough!), this is the reason I love seeing the world thru the eyes of a runner – it's like no other experience in the world, especially in a place like Haiti that forces you even further out of your comfort zone. And especially when you find yourself running without water in oppressive heat, yikes. Glad you finished the race (not something I say very often!), and thanks for sharing your amazing stories from a country clearly filled with amazing people. I look forward to watching Haiti's marathon grow and improve, and hope to be a part of it myself one day soon!

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