A two week sabbatical from running came to a brutal end on the morning of 16th August. Despite eight days of sterling support from my unofficial Jamaican sponsors, Wray and Nephew and Appleton, some particularly noisy neighbours roused me early from a night of fitful sleep. After accidentally thinking it was a cloudy start to the day, as well as hoping that the Caribbean sun was slightly less harsh as 7:30 in the morning, before I knew it, the smuggled-in running shoes were on my feet and raring to go.
Visions of fartlek between palm trees, dodging falling coconuts were wide of the mark. Instead it was east along the busy A1 from Salem, getting that inevitable run directly into the recently risen sun out of the way first. There were people everywhere, making early starts to their long working days. I was conscious of all the horns being sounded as cars sped past me, thinking this was the Jamaican drivers having a good laugh at the only person on the island foolish enough to be out running in such conditions. In fact they were communicating with their waiting passengers and each other as they passed me by. Everyone might have been laughing, but if they did so it was too subtle for me to notice as the sweat poured down my face.
Highlights of My Jamaican Run:
1. Approximately 0.75 miles: three yard dogs spot me entering their territory and run barking after me down the street. Fortunately their inability to run in a straight line gives me the edge and I leave them in the dust.
2. Approximately 0.9 miles: Two small children coming back from the shops stop to interview me: “Are you trying to run a mile?” Me: “Yes, more than a mile – watch out Usain.”
3. Approximately 1.5 miles: I spot a massive Ackee tree which gives me three seconds of much needed shade.
4. Approximately 2.0 miles: Three men in a bar at 7:45 a.m. marvel at my sweaty apparition: “Look at the white man!”
5. Approximately 1.0 miles to finish: More running directly into the Caribbean sun with my 5K finish line coming in and out of focus through the haze as the Toyotas, minibuses and huge trucks zoom past.
Running through that heat was like running through treacle, but I’d done it: 5K in a tropical climate at a not too bad pace. The plan was to repeat the ritual a couple of days later but then I happened upon my best excuse not to run in a long time: sea urchin spikes lodged in the ball of my right foot.