World Run II / Reports
The map shows the position of which the pictures for the day are taken (if any). The start and finish markers are placed at the first and last valid registered position. This is not nessesary the actual start and finish position, if GSM or GPS signals was not available.
Distance today: 92.0 km (Accumulated: 31900.0 km)
Elapsed time: 09:58:30
Start 04:15am., 27c, humid, night & light wind, at km-stone "52" on hwy. 88. Finish 17:41pm., 29c, just after sunset & medium wind, at the harbour gate in Puerto Bolivar at entry sign "Bienvenido A Puerto Bolivar" at end of hwy. 88, in Puerto Bolivar, Colombia.
Below you can find the detailed report as well as videoclips from the last stage of the run across the South American continent, bringing the total of the world run two to 3 continents and 32 000km. (And the world run one and two combined to 6 continents and 58 000km :-)
After this the run was planned to proceed across Cuba, as a 'bonus', before starting on the last continent of my run North-South-North around the world: North America.
- At 4:30am. in the early morning I was refused bording on the airplane to Cuba from Colombia. It appears that the authorities on Cuba couldnt understand the idea of a run around the world, and straight across Cuba. No matter, it will be their loss. I then proceed directly to USA, where the run is expected to start 10. January 2012 from the South Eastern point of USA and North America:
Key West, Miami, USA.
I expect to reach the finish point approximately by 1. July 2012, at the North-Eastern point of the continent:
New Foundland, Canada.
The usual daily reports w. pictures will be uploaded in 1-2 days as well as the details of the "drama in Bogota" the last two days. At present I need to work very fast w. my main sponsor Ecco, towards getting to Miami in time for the 10. of January including the extended american visa that is needed to enter USA and finding a support-driver asap.
I have enjoyed good support
from Ecco along with a potential new american sponsor, but sadly very little support from the danish foreign ministry in this urgent visa- situation; though I have to say that their support of world run 2 has been outstanding in the Middle-East, Africa and South America :-)
The final stage on the continent !
.. Small gentle electronic sounds from my cellphone's alarm tell me its time to pack my supplies and get ready for the last streatch of running across the South American continent. Its half past 3am. and a quiet tropical night outside. Normally I am a person who enjoys any chance to sleep in' - with more than 30 000km and 3 continents in the legs in this my second run around the world, its safe to say that Im not jumping out of bed by the first light of dawn.
But the hotel I am staying in at the busy, noisy, interesting and suspect city Maicabo, right next to the Venezuelan border; has made sure I got a wake-up call much earlier than I needed. I have had my base for the last 3 days of running here since there is long between the cities up here in the Northernmost corner of Colombia. Each night I have been helped to change my sleeping habits and become an early riser, and its finally beginning to work: I cant thank the bed-bugs and their itching small bites enough !! ;-)
Slowly my support-driver Alexander, who has provided me with food and water every 5km's through Colombia, brings us the half hour drive up to the place I finished yesterday - todays starting place ofcourse. Its a silent drive, looking out at an almost surreal scenery:
Christmas lights in all coulors and shapes decorate the outskirts of Maicabo and shine in sharp contrast to the solitary military control-posts along the road. Uniforms, machineguns and armed veichles blend in with the last signs of a Christmas gone by. I look in wonder at this scenario and try to imagine what it will be like in this contry 10years from now ! Will the militia have 'conquered' the land and gained control over not only the main roads like now but also the wilderness and the fascinating nature beyond the main centres of the contry - or will the guerilla succeed in disintegrating the land ?
This exercise of my political science background is broken by more down-to-earth physical needs: I have to start drinking some fluid in order to prepare my bug-bitten self' for the run ahead of me ! Its a hot-humid tropical night, where your own sweat blends in with the moisture in the dense and heavy air filled with smells and scents of flowers, tropical fruits, roaddust and yesterdays road-kill.
At 4:15 in the morning I am ready to start. Late as always, but fairly confident. The 85-88km wich I have ahead seems to be in my 'mental reach': ultrarunning is essentially about mental flexibility. And a little bit of training.. As my legs reluctantly gets into motion I tell myself with firmness that its probably going to be just 80km's when all is said and run; the km-signs usually are a bit on the high side' here in South America. And I think I have calculated right since the last one I saw 50km ago, pointing towards "Puerto Bolivar". It could be that its even just "in the high 70ties".
Little do I know that I have a run on the solid side of 90km's ahead of me. And that the humidity of the night later on will be replaced by an almost clear sky and 30 to 41c.
Other surprises, far more problematic are in store for me, but for the moment I am submerged in the ambience of the night - My supportcar waits a few km's ahead and in the quiet night I only see the stars above me and the tiny red glow from the soldiers cigarets where they stand in small groups by the side of the road. Without a word they let my run by, like a ghost in the night I suppose, and only later a jeep starts up at the service road along the railroad next to the highway. It follows me for two km's sweeping a strong spotlight on the road and me. But nothing more happens. And its once again just 'the road and me'. For a long time.
As the sun breaks a few hours later I begin to need the services from Alexander, and I make use of the water&food stops every 5 or 10km's that he provide in his precise and commited way. Else I wouldnt be able to take in energy and liquid enough for the body to conquer todays distance.
- Then the first surprise of the day:
Our supplypoint at 35km, the only village on my map of this streatch, only offers truck tires and gasoline for motorcycles. But water ? "No, No Senor !".
Its an curious situation as I am now aware that I only have water for maximum 70km's, if the weather is mild and the road good. None of wich turns out to be the case.
However all is still good. I have not been attacked yet. And the road seems open ahead. But it was not to remain that way.
In a peculiar way the landscape with its dustroad, the red and yellow-brown earth, palmtrees and small hut-villages reminded of East Africa. And other memories of East Africa came to mind too, much more than I would have wished: At first a lot of curiousness from the villagers, some of them riding their bicycles at my pace to strike up a few words and find out what "a gringo" is doing running out here where the busy part of the contry is far away and the sun is persuading most to stay inside, or in the hammock in the shade of the mango tree..
The friendly curiosity doenst last though. At 75km I hear a noice in the bushes next to the road. Then a few stones wistle past me. A little further up the road, and more stones.
- Its not dangerous having thrown stones after you. But I can guarantee its an ugly feeling, especially if you are moving past peacefully. Its no big deal, but it only takes fractions of a second for the memories to flash back of the 1500km in Northen Ethiopia where daily stonethrowing during the run was the normal setting. A truely bad experience of a place that surprised me in many ways. Obviously here its only a bizar incident or two and nothing wich says anyting about how it has been running across the Colombia or South America in general. Because it has been a pleasure, and more often than not I have been met with helpfullness and a smile no matter what situation. A combination of progress and initiative hand in hand with a way of life where there always seems to be a minute, half an hour ..or an hour to spend making sure a total stranger is allright. Its a quality of life you dont find on many continents !
Still the stonethrowing, however little it is, pushes me out of my amazement with the culture and views back on the many good experienses with nature and people in the highlands of the Andes, the costal lowlands along the Pacific Ocean, the deserts or the steamy humid streatches of jungle. And instead I take up chace !! Before I really maneage to think about it I have turned around, sprinted (ok, fast-jogged' ;-) towards the bushes were the stones are coming from; from there down a sand and dust footpath and into a village of wooden huts a few hundred meters off the road. And what now ? I look around, where are the rascals ?? I catch a glimse of a shirt I recognize. Hidden but peaking out from the opening of a hut. Normally the elders or the deciding 'chief' of a village will sit at a circle eighter in front of the village or at its mid; atleast that's what seems to be the pattern most places. Thus I ask the people sitting in the circle at the center of the huts why its not possible to pass without the stones'. Silence. I try to explain about the world run, that I am doing a peacefull thing and am trying my best to respect them - and thus dont really like to be thrown stones at, atleast not for longer times in a row.
Then it occurs to me that they dont understand anything. They dont speak spanish, and I certainly doesnt speak much eighter. Their reply sounds as odd to me as my remarks probably sounded to them ;-) I jog on, after giving a last, fairly strong, speach i danish. Why not if we dont understand eachother anyways. Atleast I got my native tongue exercised, wich it hasnt been in half a year ! And I am sure they could understand the bodylanguage.
To people who focus on negative things, mainly more negative things seems to come. Thats a very simple behavioral theory, but in my case it doesnt fail: a little later I search in vain for my last waterbottle. It was used half an hour ago. Wether there is 10, 15 or 20km left now I have to do with a couple of bottles of sprite, one nearly empty orange juice and two ½liters of energy drinks. Normally this would be pleanty for 20km, but with 8hours of running behind me and a temperature that peaked at 40 - 41c earlier in the day; the body has a low tolerance for concentrated sugar. And without out water - concentrated sugar-drinks in various forms is all I have.
There is an easy solution, though: continue running anyhow. Im not over-eager to have to drive up here tomorrow in order to complete a missing part of the run, wich will be the case if I stop now. So on I run..
Long rests in the shade now. Easier because the sun is beginning to sink and finally the short trees cast enough shadow for me to benefit from.
A tiny bend in the road: Is it the FINISH there, just behind the bend ?? No. Another bend four km's later. No, also not the finish. Then I begin to see water on both sides of the road. Now surely the finish and Puerto Bolivar Must be near. NO. Still nothing.
I begin to loose some of my patience. Its lasted more or less 87km now; and a few continents.
Then, finally, Finally, FINALLY: The Gate to the Habour of Puerto Bolivar - the Northernmost Point Reachable by road in South America. Wow !!! :-))
But the gate is closed.
Well; not entirely closed, but for "gringos" its closed. Thats what the security tells first Alexander as he explains about the run. And then me when I run up to his office next to the gate. I explain. Alexander explain. For reasons unknown to me I dont loose my temper; the Viking in me most be deep asleep. Or more likely dehydrated ? A short moment I consider simply running past the guards the last short path to the harbour-wall. Their maschineguns looks real enough. I decide that its a little bit to long a stage today to hope for a blitz' of a sprint. Atleast one wich can outrun bullets ;-)
And the guards mean business. After I have taken the official finish picture at the gate marking the last point one is allowed to reach on the continent, we are asked to move 200meters back. Even streatching at the supportcar brings out one of the guards at high pace. So we drive back into the twilight where I can do my steatching alone.
The last part of the run across South America is done.
It was a long lonely run this particular day. But then again: not many has run North - South, East - West around the world, across all 6 runable continents. None infact.
Im satisfied with that.
Temporary report (28/12 at midnight):
I have just returned to my accomodation base after finishing the run across the South American continent with a mostly off-road 92km run. It then makes it continent number 6 of 6 runable continents completed in world run one & two.
I'll write a detailed report and share what became one of the 'oddest' stages I have run so far; and not only compared with the other days, weeks and months running across South America. It in full measure had both its pleasant and un-pleasant surprises !
But more about that and eventually a try to compare those 6 continents when seen step by step via a pair of running shoes - and through the eyes of a political scientist. That is - once I have had a high-carb. dinner (you can guess what... ;-) and a good sleep.
NB: As always the entire run was tracked by gps for documentation, and you can see the detailed route, times etc. at the "live coverage" link right below this report. Later I'll upload the full picture-series and a couple of video-clips from the final stage in the South American segnemt of world run two.