Every end of January, the happiest 5km takes place in Barbados. At 7.30am, a cruise ship pulls up at the deep water harbour and 350 or so runners on a cruising holiday disembark to run a 5km race under a searingly hot sun set high in a sky without a single cloud. Every year you could fry an egg on the sidewalk, it’s so hot by the time that the race starts. I guess that no one has ever told these courageous (that’s being kind) runners that we in the Caribbean would never dream of running at that time of the morning, that’s for tourists! So these 350 really happy souls gear up at the start line, some very experienced like the couple in their 80s who run marathons and who do this cruise every year, and some not, like Howie the 400lb cruiser who ran his first 5km ever in Barbados, having been dragged onto the cruise by his wife and watching the other runners all week have the time of their lives.
In amongst these 350 cruising runners are we, the Barbados contingent, made up of five of us from our Ufukuzo Marathon Club and 20 odd kids (in number, not personality) from some of the local secondary schools. The kids are excited because the cruisers have brought them running shoes, a big pile of donated shoes that they can pick through after the race and take for free. The cruising runners in fact donate something in every country, so there is giving back from our running community at each stop. That’s brilliant.
This year was markedly different from the others in that the founder of Cruise To Run, Jerry Friesen, who recently passed away at the beginning of November, was not the familiar face & voice behind the mike. Whilst I expected a touch of sorrow at this year’s race the reality was really shiny, happy runners and the effervescent royal running couple, Laura & Bart Yasso, making everyone feel amazing about their running skills. This year Bart was joined by Nike sponsored Ironman (woman?) and amazingly vivacious Sarah Reinertsen as guest speakers on the cruise, shame that we “on the ground” don’t get to hear their motivational speeches but I guess that’s what the cruisers pay the big bucks for.
Jody, Jerry’s wife & partner in Cruise To Run, pulled off a great holiday cruise that I’m sure Jerry would have been proud of. A quick check reveals that a 2013 Caribbean Cruise To Run has been announced on their official website, much to my happiness. Cruise To Run-a novel idea that really captures the heart of what we runners already know, that there’s no such thing as a holiday WITHOUT running! Now if we can convince Jody to do a Cruise To Run 42km, a marathon in every island……