Many thanks to Great Outdoors for their ongoing loyal support and sponsorship.
Great Outdoors is Ireland’s leading outdoors store. Please visit their website
Many thanks to Great Outdoors for their ongoing loyal support and sponsorship.
Great Outdoors is Ireland’s leading outdoors store. Please visit their website
WELL MY BAGS ARE PACKED, MANY OF THE GOODBYES HAVE BEEN SAID. ON NEW YEARS EVE AT 8.40am, I FLY FROM DUBLIN VIA ATLANTA TO PANAMA CITY. I WILL ARRIVE THERE AROUND 10PM.
I HAD A GREAT SURPRISE TODAY WHEN ONE OF MY GREAT SUPPORTERS AND NEWS CORRESPONDENT, FERGUS OWENS CALLED OVER.
FERGUS TOLD ME THAT IN 1972 HE HITCH-HIKED ACROSS THE STATES IN 10 DAYS. HE STOPPED IN SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA LANDING A GREAT JOB WORKING FOR THE MOTEL SIX CHAIN. EVERYDAY BEFORE WORK HE WENT FOR A SWIM AND OFTEN WONDERED HAD HE STAYED IF HE WOULD HAVE BECOME A SENIOR MANAGER THERE.
TO WAKE UP IN SANTA BARBARA WAS HEAVEN.. YES LIFE WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT, BUT HE HAS NO REGRETS..
THANKS FOR YOUR GREAT SUPPORT FERGUS
SORRY FOR THE BLURRED PHOTOS. THIS IS DUE TO RAIN DAMAGE TO MY CAMERA.
I FIGURE THEY ARE BETTER THAN NOTHING!
This is becoming a habit,more rain accompanied me across the border into Panama. As always the border officials seemed to be very interested in my run. The Panamanian officer just asked me if I was travelling by bus, when I said no that I was running I could see the astonishment in his face. A ten minutes question and answer performance ensued for the migration officers. I had noticed that before he stamped my passport with my 90 day visa that he had been fiddling with his stamper.
Paso Canoas, the border town hadn’t got much to offer. I was a bit surprised as It looked big enough to have at least one grubby hotel. I went into an electronics shop to buy a charger for my ipod. I couldn’t remember the Spanish word for charger and do you think I could make the man behind the counter understand me.. Not a hope despite pulling out the ipod, pointing to the low power and then to the wall socket! I didn’t want to give up on this but finally did after about a minute of frustration! My first impression of Panama is that they are poor communicators. This impresssion lasted all the way to Panama City. I have also been told that the Spanish spoken here is a bit ‘ rougher ‘ than elsewhere in Latin America. Whereas before I have had few problems making myself understood even with my basic Spanish, here they seemed to have problems understanding me!
A money changer at the border told me there is a gringos hostel called the International Pension about 2km up the road on the way out of town. It was very dark as I ran over a flooded bridge in the torrential rain. Just before the pension I came to an immigration checkpoint. This was the first time since since the USA that I was asked to show my passport on the road. I was really pissed off when the officer pointed out in my passport that I had received a stamp for October 14th instead of November 14th. The officer back at the border had obviously knocked off a month while fiddling with his stamper. What with the rain and my sheer displeasure of ever having to make a backtrack (even if shorter!) I went into a minor tantrum. This officer was having none of it and told me to go back to the border before I got arrested for f***ing and blinding! I guess it was better for this mistake to be discovered here rather than the airport in two weeks time at Panama City airport when I am returning to Dublin for my timeout. The officer made a handcuff signal, so I just got the message and had a horrible thought about what if I had been deported there and then for my tantrum,what a disaster this would have been for the continuous route of my run!
Back at the border the officer was all apologetic, it was just one of those human errors I told him before running back to the checkpoint,where I was told all was in order.
Five minutes later I arrived at the International Pension which first asked for 12 dollars. I often get a room for half of my first quote if I say I don’t want tv, just a basic room no ac which amazingly always assumed I need even when the weather is miserable. A cooling fan is always a bonus. I will only use the air condition when I am desperate. I had air condition a few times in Mexico and really didn’t need it. I got no intention of getting too used to this comfort, as then it may be difficult to survive when I don’t have it. This time I got my room for $6. I had eaten 5 skewers of lamb at the border and wondered if this caused my lack of energy the next morning. It took me a good two hours to get out of bed as I just kept hitting the snooze button,so shattered was I.
Out on the road I made several stops before calling it a day at 12km. I have an invitation to stay a night or two in a place locally called Cruz which is a crossroads between the two small towns of La Conception and David. I probably should have gotten a bus to Normans place last night straight from the border as it was only 40km and I could have returned to the border minus my bag this morning.. Yes another slip up!
I hitched a lift with two paint ball delivery guys. I will return to this exact same spot in the morning. They were good enough to phone Norman for me. Back at Normans house he told me he was originally from the Coventry area of England and had been living here about ten years now. He is a great motor bike fan and likes to cruise around Panama and Costa Rica a lot. Over the years has had a lot of bikers stay.
His house is very interesting. Built on about 4 or 5 acres the lower part is completely open, no doors or windows. You just walk in from the gate to his living room. His kitchen and dining room are also open. A very nice fresh air feeling, he doesn’t worry too much about the mosquitoes or snakes,it never gets cold here. The monkeys are the main problem. A couple of friendly monkeys sometimes come inside for a chase!
The house itself is on stilts with the bedrooms upstairs but the rest of it is wide open. He has employed a live in caretaker to look after the place when he is not around. Next day I returned to my spot on the road.
I felt a lot better today and ran 36km as far as the junction at a town called David. I wanted to run a bit more but as David was 3km off the highway and all buses went through there, I just didn’t want to be messing with two buses when one direct on to and from Cruz will do. That night in Norman house I discovered he has a large music collection, so I filled up my blank 32gb usb stick with some great classic rock tunes. I am going to have great fun sorting through this on my timeout. I think I will carry around spare usb’s with me from now on.
Speaking of my timeout, Stephen my contact in Panama City tells me that I might lose my parcel of excess baggage I sent there. I had his address and just sent my parcel on a whim. The very next day he told me that there as there is no door-to-door mail delivery in Panama.Most people use post office boxes.
Before leaving I called out to Norman.. ” Hey Norman what’s this you are saying about monkeys coming to visit you? Where are they? “
” Out in the garden… You want to see them? “
” Sure, get over there beside one and I’ll take a family group shot! ”
Next day I struggled to run 20km again. It was another very humid day.Just as it started raining I stopped at a roadside fruit sellers stall in a hamlet called La Pita for a snack. The owner Catalina and Anna his wife told me I could sleep on the floor of the stall that night, easy decision. After having my fill of bananas they asked me if I was hungry as they were going to cook their own dinner. I said not now but later. I was feeling very hungry. Later that evening Catalina came out with a big bowl of rice and meat and gave it to the dog. I smiled and nearly passed out!
Around 8pm I settled down to sleep on the floor in my sleeping bag. Two dogs slept nearby. The stall was covered up with tarps for the night. Just as I was settling down in my bag about twenty fruit bats came out and were flying around inside the stall all night, at least till I eventually fell asleep a couple of hours later.
I had a return to form getting a couple of good days after that running 38 and 40km days. Stopping in a restaurant in a village called San Juan and absolutely soaked I had dinner. The good people there let me sleep outside on the step beside an ice storage chest. First I got some cardboard to lie on and also to put up my shirt. I will have a problem drying my clothes tonight as it looks like the rain is down for the night. I don’t have any change of clothes now as remember I am running with just a backpack and a lightened load. Body heat, newspapers and cardboard will have to dry my clothes out as I sleep in them. My sleeping bag smells of ammonia, I don’t know what means. In the middle of the night the ice delivery man arrived to refill the ice storage chest. Rudely he kicked my water bottle out of his way and just pushed past me lying on the ground spraying me with cold ice as he restocked the ice chest without even an apology.
Further on up the road two Californian motor bikers stopped to shoot an interview on their camera. One of them is wearing a cam-corder and records everything live which is relayed back to their website. Cool if you can do it, many people asked me if that is possible for me. I think it would be,but the technology would be way above me and probly use huge amount of bandwidth on the site. These guys are surfers and are cruising down the coast renting surf boards as they go.
I ran on another ten km getting another drowning as shortly after I started running it started raining yet again. I finished at the Crossway Bar and Restaurant in Tole at km 338. It was another one of those open air restaurants. In I went like a drowned rat shivering as I went,for the rain was cold. I asked the man behind the bar for a towel to dry off. His name was Julio but he bore the resemblance of Woody Allen.
” Sorry I got no towel. ” said Woody. ” But this is a bar, restaurant and that’s your house there and you have no towel! ” I asked for some newspapers to dry off and ordered a beef steak, fries along with a portion of a type of fried banana plant. Almost everything in Central America is fried, usually in the cheapest frying oil. I also ordered a mug of hot milk. I changed into my driest of damp clothes and waited and waited and waited as Woody talked and talked serving the odd bottle of beer to the locals. I continued to shiver as I was just wearing only my thin MSB singlet.Three girls walked in and ordered chicken dinners. So eventually Woody comes over to me and tells me he has no beef, only chicken. Nice and convenient I think, don’t put yourself out and what about my hot milk. Everyone is watching me dry off with the newspapers. I even stuffed them up my shirt and down my shorts. I am shivering. I look across at a table where five men have their coats hanging on the back of their chairs. I was very close to asking one of them if I could wear one till I warmed up, but I didn’t. Eventually I got my warm drink.I wondered if this was a bar in the USA, Canada or even Ireland would the people have offered assistance,maybe even a coat to wear for an hour or two. I am certain they would, as they are generally more compassionate societies. Here it seems people are only interested in what’s in it for themselves. Many times when I am in need,that’s when the staring stops and the indifference starts. The three girls were served before me. I got my two piece chicken dinner which was just one small chicken drumstick cut in two, a popular scam here. No fries I was told, and was just given a double dose of the tasteless rubbery banana plants! I was of course grateful I could shelter for the night. Woody showed me a quiet corner where I could sleep on the floor. ” Hey Julio, that cushion behind the bar, can I use it as a pillow please? “
” No! “
” What about that tarp lying over there can I sleep on it as we got a concrete floor here? “
” No! “
I was grateful for the dry place to sleep.
Next day I met the French motor biker I met last month in Nicaragua. He has teamed up with Andy from Switzerland. They are crawling along visiting every corner of the country. I also had severe diarrhea today and struggled to 18km before I called it a day and commuted to Santiago and got a haircut. Talk about an invitation to lose your strength!
When I checked my emails there was great news from Stephen in Panama City. He told me he got a phone call from the post office asking him to pick up my parcel
Luckily I addressed it care of him and also put his cell number on it otherwise it would have gone missing. Stephen is an American pastor who has been living here for about ten years. Yosi, his Panamanian wife is due their second baby in a couple of weeks time, probably when I am on my timeout back in Ireland. So between the parcel, the hassle with the Spot tracker.Stephen has been very helpful in communicating with the office in Panama City,also my arrival and other issues we have exchanged over 50 emails! Not exactly the right time for all this extra workload for him, but you know what he said to me… ” No problem Tony, We are here to serve…. ”
Thank God for gringos! I am about 320km away from Panama City now. Stephen mentioned that he wanted to introduce me to some of his friends if I could make the city by Saturday afternoon. That is in six days time, really five and a half as he wanted to feed and wash me first as he put it before the meeting! So no more time for any wimpy energy crisis, time to put the boot down! I owe it to Stephen to try and make it. I am sure this is the last running I will do before my surprise time out for my sister Ann’s 50th on Dec 1st. I fly on Nov 29th from Panama City to Dublin.I will arrive in Dublin on the 30th and hide till midnight!
SEE THE VIDEO AND HER SHOCK OF MY ARRIVAL AT HER HOUSE ON THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT PRESS > HERE
I based myself for three nights in all in a cheap hotel in Santiago, so was able to run the next two days without my pack.
Next day November 21st I got off to a decent start with a 51k. I got off to a better start than the poor dog I saw in Santiago bus station when I was commuting back to yesterdays finish in Vigui. The poor thing had its paws tied and was put in a sack with it’s head sticking out. It was then put up on the roof of the bus. This lack of compassion is rife all through Central America. Many times I have seen unwanted dogs tied up, sometimes sacked and left in the middle of the road for the next truck to flatten them. The biggest problem I had today was burning the back of my neck where I had long hair only yesterday! It was very hot. I usually try to push on through the hot mid-day heat but,usually slow up significantly.
I stopped at a roadside fruit stall to buy just two bananas and the girl there was going to wrap them in a plastic bag! I told her not to bother as I was going to eat them on the spot. In every store I go to they want to wrap up everything I buy and on two occasions even my ice creams!
Then a 56km day in which I had some diarrhoea issues! I just rushed for the nearest hedge or covering and droped my pants, not really caring too much about passing traffic, been doing this too long now to care!
Outside Magazine say the interview I recently did will appear in the February issue. This is a very big American publication.
My friend Jesper Olsen who is currently running through South America is in Colombia at the moment. He says his support vehicle driver would be willing to crew for me in the Andes Mountains for the next 5 months or so. Unfortunately due to my timeout we will not be meeting on the road in Colombia because by the time I get back he will be in Cuba. His driver Alexander is from Colombia and the whole deal including the hire of his vehicle, his pay, petrol,tolls and daily allowance works out at around 2,000 dollars a month. A huge amount for me. My fundraising has not gone well. To date I have only raised 50 euro! Thanks Ciaron! Jesper has had support vehicles for over 3 years in total now on his two runs and warns me that due to excessive heat and conditions,that his running right now in Colombia was even more difficult than his Sahara Desert crossing! So I guess I got to get it either way as I will be pounding those same roads in about three weeks time!
I’m still motivated and loving the dream, loving the challenges, it will be something to tell the grand kids, or even kids if I stay still long enough first!
The Panamanians are still having huge problems understanding me! Can you believe one didn’t understand me when I asked for a Coca Cola!! Twice I stopped on the way to Divisa a 56km run and had this problem. There are also many Chinese serving in the shops.The Chinese came here during the construction of the Panama Canal almost 100 years ago, and then they just stayed. I don’t seem to have this communication problem with the Chinese!
Then another great day, a 59km to just outside the town of Penenome. I took a bus back to Agua Dulce (Sweet Water) where I had left my bag this morning at the Protection Civil, or Civil Defence as we call them back home. I had arrived there this morning looking for a new base and met these great guys who were very excited by my run. Tonight when I got back after my run I was fed, given a bed and the use of a computer. The boss brought his wife and family back to the base for photos and a nice chat. Nice Panamanian hospitality!
I got an idea and asked the chief if there was a chance they could deliver my pack in their office in La Chorrea. No problem. That is 120km away, I will have to make there in two days. I wont even take my sleeping bag with me, will just have to find a squalor dollar room tomorrow!
The next day 61km was reeled out, I am getting really tired now and looking forward to my timeout It was also Thanksgiving day here which seems to be celebrated by many Panamanians. I met some Americans in a Pizza joint in San Carlos when I stopped for the night.
Next morning before running out of San Carlos I stopped for breakfast and briefly spoke to an American from Illinois. He told me he loves living here so much as the American government did all it could to make it difficult for him to run his construction company. He told me his opinion of the so called Patriots Act, introduced after 9-eleven is just an excuse to interfere with his and other peoples business and a way of raising extra taxes. He went on to tell me.
” Here the climate is great, I can do what I like, I bought a cheap house seven years ago. I worked on that house extending it a lot and it’s now a mansion. I am married to a drop dead gorgeous Panamanian woman.”
He went on. ” Here I got a paint company. You know the Panamanians paint everything by brush, they don’t use compressors even though they have them here.
“So I got an advantage, I spray everything and can do a fast job and earn a lot of money. You know I can’t even get the heads for my compressor here. I got to send off to the States to order them.”
I followed up yesterdays good run with a 58km finishing up at the La Chorrea Civil Defence office. On the way I passed through some very dodgy territory. La Chorrea gives me the creeps, a very dangerous place with some unsavory characters, not a place to hang around long in. I am glad I am staying with my friends in the Civil Protection. Everyone keeps telling me not to talk to anyone once I near Panama City.
Do not stop to speak to anyone around here, I was warned, It’s very dangerous around here.
I also stopped at a bar-b-q place near km 55. It was frequented by gringos so I guess the staff have developed a rip off mentality. My timing was perfect. I went in just as a heavy rain shower lashed me off the road. I saw delicious beef steaks, large chicken breasts, and larges strings of sausages on the grill. A dollar each I was told. Eventually the food arrived. It was cut up and served in a basket, about one third the amount which was displayed. When the bill (minus receipt) came I was told 9 dollars, well there was a $2 milk shake but even still. Less food than one expects is a common Panamanian con here. In other places when I picked them up on this and asked for a larger serving as they dished it out, I was charged on the double! Here shocked I just meekly payed up and did not even get a bill or receipt. I left with the impression that the staff were just pocketing this. Later when I left I was very annoyed with myself that I didn’t question the bill. So many transactions in Panama leave you wondering if everyone is trying to pull a ‘ fast one. ‘
For instance the next day when I stopped for a tub of ice cream at a store behind bars. The ice cream tub had the clearly labeled Neapolitan label with the distinctive pink, lemon and brown stripes on it. Inside the very loosely closed tub was homemade plain ice cream packed in a used tub, with just a few currants tossed in! In fact it was much more delicious than the Neapolitan!
It was very hot that last morning as I ran towards Panama City.The traffic was very heavy and not helped by about ten kilometers of road works. Many times cars and trucks just drove in the hard shoulder running me out of it and into the rough grass verge. The passengers even reached out their windows and moved the red traffic cones in order to pass other traffic on the inside, driving on in a work in progress part of the road as they went.
In the 525km from the border I must have run over at least 100 bridges. Almost every single bridge was built by the Americans in the 1950′s. I wondered if this was a price they paid for the use of the Panama Canal the construction of which drastically shortened many shipping routes around the world, cutting out the necessity to sail down to the stormy waters of the tip of the South American continent, some 11,000 plus kilometers away. It also means the cargo ships can just zip right through the center of the Americas.One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the canal had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, replacing the long and treacherous route via either the Strait of Magellan or Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. A ship sailing from New York to San Francisco via the canal travels 9,500 km (5,900 mi), well under half the 22,500 km (14,000 mi) route around Cape Horn
More info on the Panama Canal.
Stephen had given me excellent directions the night before. He told me it was not necessary for me to cross the Bridge of The Americas and instead I ran onto a road called Via Centenario which will get me around the heart of the city without going through it. I ran on down Via Centenario for about an hour before deciding it was time to call Stephen to come and pick me up. I needed to use a phone but the trouble was there was nobody about and my phone was out of order due to the rains. After 9km I spotted three truckers working on a broken down truck. They were in the shoulder. I asked one of them if I could use his phone. He had none, neither had the second man.The driver reached inside his cab and passed his mobile to one of the two men to dial Stephens number for me. I had told the owner I would give him a couple of dollars for the call. He dialled, Stephen answered and told me he would pick me up at a police checkpoint at a junction a further kilometer down the road. Without thinking I handed this man the two dollars, which he pocked in a flash. I realized he was not the owner of the phone and as I departed told the driver I had paid his friend but don’t think he understood. It seems everyone here in Panama is out to make a buck, even on their own friends,it happens too often here.
At the junction I photographed my finishing spot.This is where I will return and restart running from after my timeout. Stephen arrived after half an hour, we returned to the Civil Defence for my bag. 26km today, a short day. 14,106km in 323 road days. Too bad I didn’t get to the end of Panama before my timeout. Had I not gotten the athletes feet and lost those five days I would have made it. That would have been nice and neat. So I went back to Stephens house and met his Panamanian wife, Yesi and their 18 month old son, Joseph.
These people are really so good to me. Yesi is heavily pregnant and expects to have their baby when I am back in Ireland! Despite this busy time they are helping me resolve many problems including the missing package (which has been delivered), picking up a Spot tracker and dealing with the many emails I sent them. Thanks so much, great people. That evening I went to the meeting which was a gathering of their church friends in a house. It was a pleasant evening, about 20 showed up. We had a nice dinner there. I was added to another couple of prayer lists.The list is growing and growing, must be almost as long as the Panama Canal!
On the way back we noticed that the car in front was driving very slowly with his hazard lights on. When we got closer we realized he had no headlights or tail lights! Just then a cop car passed and just drove on! Stephen and I wondered why the cops didn’t stop.
” That’s easy said Yesi… They are on their way home at the end of their shift! “
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY HELPERS, FRIENDS, SUPPORTERS AND SPONSORS
JUST TO REMIND INFREQUENT FOLLOWERS OF THE BLOG. I RETURNED TO IRELAND FOR A TIMEOUT AT THE END OF NOVEMBER AS A SURPRISE VISIT FOR MY SISTERS 50TH BIRTHDAY ON DECEMBER 1ST, PLEASE SEE THE ‘ SURPRISE ‘ BLOG POSTING OF 3 WEEKS AGO.
BY THE WAY THANKS TO MY FRIEND STEPHEN IN PANAMA FOR GETTING MY SPOT TRACKING DEVICE WORKING AGAIN. STEPHEN MANAGED TO GET A FIX IN PANAMA A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO. PLEASE CLICK ON ‘ SHARED MAP ‘ BELOW THE GOOGLE MAP. I KNOW THIS MAP IS UNSATISFACTORY AND NOT ANYTHING LIKE THE GREAT GOOGLE MAP WHICH WE ALL FOLLOWED SO EASILY UP TILL NOW. AS I MENTIONED MANY WEEKS AGO SPOT DROPPED THE SUPPORT MECHANISM FOR THE GOOGLE MAP. MANY THANKS TO SOME PROGRAMMER FRIENDS WHO MANAGED TO KEEP THE GOOGLE MAP IN PLACE. THEY HAD A HUGE JOB WITH THE REPROGRAMMING! THE NEXT STEP IS TRYING TO GET THE LINK FROM THE SHARED MAP BACK ONTO THE GOOGLE MAP. I KNOW ITS A TERRIBLE TIME OF THE YEAR FOR ME TO ASK FOR THIS HELP BUT I AM HOPEFUL!
THANKS AGAIN LADS, I DON’T HAVE A FULL LIST OF YOUR NAMES AS SO MANY WERE INVOLVED HELPING ME AND I WILL POST CREDIT THEN THANKS SO MUCH TO EVERYONE THAT HELPED ME IN 2011!
I DECIDED TO EXTEND THE TIMEOUT IN AN EFFORT TO RAISE FUNDING FOR A NECESSARY SUPPORT VEHICLE FOR THE ANDES MOUNTAINS SECTION STARTING IN ABOUT 3 WEEKS TIME, THE BONUS HERE IS I GET TO STAY WITH MY FAMILY FOR CHRISTMAS
MY PLAN IS TO RETURN TO PANAMA ON DECEMBER 31ST AND START RUNNING FROM THE PLACE I FINISHED UP AT ON JANUARY 1ST OR 2ND. I HAVE ABOUT 300KM MORE TO RUN IN PANAMA AND THAT WILL FINISH OFF NORTH AMERICA. I EXPECT TO START RUNNING FROM NEOCOCLI, COLOMBIA (AND SOUTH AMERICA) AROUND 13-14TH JANUARY.
CONGRATS TO MY FRIENDS IN PANAMA CITY, STEPHEN AND HIS WIFE YESI WHO LAST WEEK GAVE BIRTH TO A BABY GIRL WHICH THEY ARE CALLING ’ REBECCA ‘
I STAYED WITH STEPHEN, YESI AND YOUNG JOSEPH JUST BEFORE MY TIMEOUT. STEPHEN HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE HELPING ME WITH SO MANY PROBLEMS AT THIS DIFFICULT AND BUSY TIME. THANK YOU SO MUCH, YOU WILL HAVE AN EXTRA SPECIAL CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU!
SORRY FOR THE BLURRED PHOTOS. THIS IS DUE TO RAIN DAMAGE TO MY CAMERA.
Once again I swam over another border, this time into Costa Rica such was the rain. It was a bit of a culture shock crossing from Nicaragua, just like going from Mexico to the USA.
Gone are the shacks, much of the squalor, battered cars, pickups with whole construction crews or even whole families with grandma squashed in the back.
Also gone are the ancient, overcrowded, decommissioned American school buses which served the transport industry so much in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
The feeling I get is that Costa Rica along with Panama see themselves to be the ultimate in sophistication and above their poorer neighbours in Central America.
It is also damn expensive here. I have been told that to provide modern services ( I use my modern description with some hesitation as the country still has a way to go) here they are taxing the people out of existence, and just keep raising taxes.
Also gone was the nice hard shoulder I got spoilt by in Nicaragua.
I ran by some really nice brick houses, nice pullman buses, decent cars that have to pass inspection tests and very little rubbish on the road.
Much of Central America doesn’t have a trash collection service and understandably the frustrated people have not much option but to burn their rubbish, there is only so much they can bury. I have seen this and not only in the rural areas but even in small towns people are outside their houses burning their household waste emitting all kinds of toxins into the air.
Here I’m told they have trash collections twice a week, even in most rural areas. I am also told that despite the high taxes that not many people want to leave Costa Rica, the envy of much of Central America, what with it’s fantastic free health care service and decent standard of living.
It seems Costa Rica has a problem protecting it’s borders as many people want to move here, and not entirely legally.
That first day I ran just over 44km (which just happens to be my average daily distance for the run) to Santa Rosa Junction.
I met some more motor bikers and stopped for a coffee. An English couple and an Australian couple. Guess where they were going, same as every other rider here from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego,in Patagonia.
The Aussie man told me when he was on the China/ Laos border (where I will be crossing in a couple of years time and one of my visa worries) that they were refused entry and had to get a flight. Interestingly he also told me that the Chinese let backpackers and cyclists through, so that is very hopeful news for me I guess.
They also told me that the border I crossed from Honduras to Nicaragua a couple of weeks ago was closed a couple of days after I left due to flooding. They had to wait around for four days for the border to reopen.
A couple of good days, a 48 and a 50km took me almost as far as Limonel.On the way I stopped in a shop in Irigaray.Magakly, the very friendly shop assistant heated up my half litre carton of milk in her microwave, cleared a table and chair for me and gave me bananas.
This is my new system, whenever there is a convenience store I will heat up my own milk and add a couple of spoons of coffee to make good, cheap, healthy coffee!
I am tired of getting half cups, often cold, pre-prepared with added sugar which I usually send back.
Back on the road Chris slows down in heavy traffic to give me two bottles of an energy drink.
All this along with a woman who also stopped and gave me a bottle of water has taken me by surprise.
Many people also live in a constant state of fear due to crime. Many houses throughout Central America are heavily fortified, just like prisons. Many shops are also barred off. You go to a railing at the counter and tell the attendant what you want. After paying your purchase is handed out through the railings. If you order something big like a 2 litre bottle of soda, they open a hatch and hand it out.
So, you see the difficult position I am in writting such comments and talking about a ‘ me mentality ‘ when I am running around the world and in many cases, especially last winter was at the mercy of many people in Canada and the USA to give me shelter from the storm.
Many times I have thought to myself that I would hate to have a problem in Central America, say to be robbed, penniless, without a passport, to be in an accident with people just looking on afraid to put you in their vehicle for fear of blood stains in their precious banger, at the mercy of others.
As always, there will always be exceptions.
I look so much forward to meeting the wonderful people of South America. I spent a year there many years ago and hardly had a bad experience.
I have noticed many travel writers taking the politically correct option when addressing these issues or just ignoring them. I aim to tell it as I see it.
The great Costa Rican hospitality continued next day when I ran by a garage. It was a hot day as there was no wind. The owner called Martin asked me what I was doing and when I told him he invited me inside to refill my water bottles then sat me down with a nice cold soda drink.
I had left my bags in Limonel police station and returned there to sleep. 45km today. Last night I slept behind a church.
Costa Rica is making a hole in my budget as just about every single transaction leaves me shaking my head in disbelief so I need to rough it a couple of nights to get back on track.
Then another hot and windless day reduced me to only 30km. It was a very hard day. Very hard to run as there was no shoulder on the road.
Costa Rica being a fairly clean country, and littered with beautiful beaches is a very popular destination for Americans and Canadians. This is probably one of the reasons that I don’t get called a gringo anymore.
Another 46km pounding down route 34 took me to Jaco.
On the way I noticed a lot of people looking over a long bridge and into the river. It would be the kind of place I would consider to camp under!
I took a look and saw about 8 crocodiles each side of the river.
They were just resting in shallow water. Everyone was calling the alligators but a week later in David, Panama, my friend Norman told me that he used to live here and knew the ranger that tended them. Norman told me they are a local tourist attraction.
So I reckon Normans crocodile description is more accurate. Is there an easy way to tell other than becoming up close and personal!
Once in Jaco, Roberto the owner of the Beatles Hotel let me stay in a beautiful $50 night room for $20. Still a budget whacker but I felt I deserved the luxury.
He is a Beatles fanatic and has the hotel decorated in Beatles memorabilia.
I decided I need a rest day so I stayed another day. I packed off some unnecessary baggage to Stephen my contact in Panama City. I will bring this package back to Ireland when I take my surprise time out for my sisters 50th birthday back in Dublin in 3 weeks time.
My commute to today’s start in Parrita, due to a poor bus service was dire, almost three hours.
Once I started I running I was flying along with my lightened pack. Then I saw a likely place to stop for the night. Restaurant Club Roncador.
The restaurant is in a quiet area at the side of the road ,this type of place is a ‘ favourite target. ‘
I usually just go in have a meal. The conversation always turns to my run. I make an impression. I am usually asked where I plan to sleep that night. I usually say I will look for somewhere in a field out back. Often I am told I can stay there as many of these rancho type restaurant/bars have some kind of a covered area I can lie a sleeping bag down in a quiet corner. If I don’ t get an invitation I usually just ask and am rarely refused.
They are often open door establishments, with just a straw roof, no doors or windows. Inside they have shutters to close off the bar area, there are usually a couple of dogs around and the family often have a house out back.
Last night after my run which I wore shorts on. The mosquitoes were so bad that I just pulled my one and only pair of running tights over the shorts to protect my legs from bites. So I slept in these and forgot to take them off when I started running the next day. Then another downpour so that meant I had nothing dry to change into that evening due to my carelessness. This is just one small but a good example of how total concentration is required. Then how to get clothes dry when its so humid and damp out that nothing dries. This morning after hanging socks and a tee shirt up to dry as best as possible the night before, which was very little, I had to run during dry spells with these on the back of my pack! Every night I have to get newspapers to roll up and put inside my only pair of shoes to dry out.
I did the same finishing in Domical after 37km and heavy rain the last hour. It seems the rainy season has come back after about a 10 day break.
I can’t get into my stride these days just 34km before I stopped early once again due to another liquid battering.
The Irish soccer team was playing Estonia today in a vital European Championship playoff game. I had been wondering all afternoon how the game had gone. I stopped off early at a place called Adelante Hotel and Restaurant.
The lady that owned the place greeted me at the door with a cup of hot tea and after flashing my Magic Letter I got a $5 discount. I negotiated free tea for the rest of the night and then asked her where she was from.
” My name is Dana and this is my daughter Andra, we are from Estonia! ”
” Never mind that! Who won the match! ”
” Ireland won 4 nil! ”
” Great! I mean sorry about that… Does the offer of free tea still stand? ”
” Sugar and milk? ”
Amazing how I was wondering how the game finished and then I meet Estonians for the first time in my living memory!
Andra allowed me to use her computer to send off important emails to see if I can get the Spot tracker sorted. I am told one will be available for me in Panama City about two weeks away. I ordered a chop suey for dinner and an hour later I was starving again.
I happened to mention this to a Polish man who came over to my table for a chat. His name is Ben and is living in the area about a year now. He makes a living out of selling his artwork. He is also a runner. Immediately Ben offers to get me another dinner. Too bad the restaurant was closed.
Next morning Dana asks me if I want an omelette or oatmeal. I remember how skimpy the dinner was so I say both!
A small omelette was served, along with a leaf of salad and a slice of tomato. The meals are starting to get a pattern here the further south I go, skimpier and skimpier! Thank God for the oatmeal… I need my carbos.
Just then Ben arrives in his running gear. He pays for my breakfast.
I am delighted when he says he wants to run about 15km with me!
His wife can bring my pack along when she picks him up later.
It was a lovely morning and on the way he told me about how he escaped from Poland about 10 years before the former Iron Bloc country gained independence.
At that time he was single man with a very young daughter. He wanted a better and freer life for his daughter, so he booked a holiday to Spain, leaving his daughter with relatives. His plan was to stay in Spain and apply for political asylum.
I asked Ben about his daughter and he told me that international law states that she would have to be released to her father within a year but it dragged out to nine long years for him before she was released. Then they moved to Canada. She lives in Australia now.
I ran on and on and about 7km east of Palmar North it started raining heavy again. I sheltered under a bus shelter. There was no sign of the rain easing off so I just rolled out my sleeping bag and slept there spraying myself with mosquito repellent.
A good day the next day 53km I stopped in a restaurant for something to eat before checking into a hotel where I got another decent discount. Costa Rica is turning out to be a great experience.
In the hotel I realized my camera was missing. I remembered putting it in a satchel and pulling it on over my pack. I don’t know why I did that. Perhaps it was after taking a picture near the end of the day and I just got lazy about sticking it back in my bag. I figured that when I took the pack off in the restaurant that the satchel must have fallen on the floor and I somehow missed it. Sure enough when I retraced my steps the two blocks the waitress handed it to me, so I gave her a nice tip, much to her surprise.
I was told about how many of the villagers never brushed their teeth and then when toothbrushes and toothpaste were donated that often families just shared the same toothbrush. It is an ongoing battle against the odds but it seems the work of Amigos For Christ is making great inroads with some of the health issues of this one community here in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the world. Here is their website
I HAVE NOW EXTENDED MY TIMEOUT IN DUBLIN TILL DECEMBER 31ST WHEN I FLY BACK TO PANAMA. THE OFFER OF THE SUPPORT CAR AND DRIVER FOR THE NEXT 5 MONTHS RUNNING IN THE ANDES MOUNTAINS IS BACK ON THE TABLE
IN ORDER TO AVAIL OF THIS I HAVE DECIDED TO STAY IN DUBLIN TO TRY TO DO SOME SERIOUS FUNDRAISING AS I NEED $2,000 US PER MONTH TO PAY FOR THE VEHICLE,,DRIVER,FUEL,TOLLS ETC. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO DONATE ON THE SIDEBAR! I AM HAVING PROBLEMS WITH THE PAYPAL ACCOUNT , BUT THE BANK ACCOUNT IS IN ORDER!
MY FUTURE PLANS ARE: DEC 31 I RETURN TO PANAMA CITY. AS I AM ARRIVING AROUND MIDNIGHT WHEN THE WORLD WILL BE RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR :( I EXPECT TO RESUME RUNNING FROM MY FINISHING SPOT FROM WHERE I FINISHED UP A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO TO RUN THE LAST 300KM IN PANAMA (AND NORTH AMERICA.)
AROUND 11/12TH JANUARY I FLY TO COLOMBIA (NO ROAD CONNECTING CENTRAL AMERICA AND SOUTH AMERICA AS EXPLAINED A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO)
13/14TH JAN I WILL START RUNNING FROM PUERTO NUEVO, NORTH OF NEOCOLI, WHICH IS A LOCATION FURTHER NORTH THAN MY FINISHING LOCATION IN NORTH AMERICA (YAVIZA,PANAMA). SEE MAP > HERE < I WILL THEN START RUNNING SOUTH THROUGH COLOMBIA AND SOUTH AMERICA
THIS IS MY PLANNED COLOMBIAN ROUTE HERE
MY FRIEND JESPER OLSEN AS WE SPEAK IS CURRENTLY RUNNING ON THIS ROUTE. JESPER SAYS ITS INCREDIABLY HOT AND WITH HUMIDITY IN THE NINETIES. HE ALSO SAYS HE IS CONSUMING MORE WATER THAN WHEN HE RAN ACROSS THE SAHARA! IT IS JESPERS SUPPORT VEHICLE I AM HOPEFUL OF OBTAINING. THIS IS ONE GREAT THING ABOUT OUR SPORT OF ULTRA RUNNING, WE ALL HELP EACH OTHER, EVEN OUR RIVALS, IT’S TOO BAD OUR TIMING DIDN’T WORK OUT AND MEET UP ON THE ROAD FOR A RUN. BY THE TIME I GET TO COLOMBIA HE WILL BE IN CUBA!
JUST A REMINDER ABOUT WHY THERE IS NO ROAD CONNECTING NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA INFORMATION HERE AS YOU CAN SEE ITS A JUNGLE, NO ROAD, BUSHWHACKING, SNAKES, KIDNAPPERS, TERRORISTS AND DRUG CARTEL HANGOUT/HIDEOUT. GUIDES MAY BE NECESSARY IN SOME SWAMP, CROCIDILE INFESTED AREAS. SOME OF THE GUIDES FIND IT EASIER TO PUT A BULLET IN YOUR BACK, TAKE YOUR MONEY THAN TO MAKE THE CROSSING AND THE POLICE ARE NOT EXACTLY EAGER TO GO IN AND INVESTIGATE!!!
I HAVE READ THE 3 BOOKS BY THE 3 CROSSERS MENTIONED. KARL BUSHBY IS ALSO A FRIEND OF MINE. IT TOOK HIM 4 WEEKS TO CROSS THE 160KM/100 MILE, SO THIS IS NOT RUNNING! THERE IS NO ROAD, SO I AM ENTITLED TO TREAT IT AS AN OCEAN.
BESIDES MY LATEST RESEARCH TELLS ME THAT BOTH THE COLOMBIAN AND PANAMIAN GOVERNMENTS NO LONGER ALLOW CROSSINGS EVEN IF I WANTED TO, DUE TO THE BAD PUBLICITY FROM KIDNAPPINGS. I ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT THE PANAMANIAN GOVERNMENT ARE RESISTING BUILDING A ROAD THROUGH THIS SECTION, WHICH IS THE ONLY SECTION OF THE PAN-AMERICAN HIGHWAY STRETCHING FROM ALASKA TO TIERRA DEL FUEGO, SOME 30,000KM. THE REASON THEY ARE RESISTING BUILDING THIS ROAD IS TO KEEP DRUGS OUT OF PANAMA AND MANY OTHER NORTH AMERICAN COUNTRIES ARE IN FULL SUPPORT.
MANY THANKS TO LARRY DOHERTY WHO CONTACTED ME TO OFFER HIS SERVICES TO SET UP A SUPPORT GROUP.
HE IS HELPING ME ALONG WITH MY SISTER ANN SALMON WITH AN APPEAL FOR MORE PUBLICITY FOR THE RUN AND SPONSORS.
HERE IS LARRY’S APPEAL
6th December 2011
A little over a year ago Irishman, and Dubliner, Tony Mangan ran the Dublin Marathon and just kept running! He has been running since!
That marathon marked the start of Tony’s mind-blowing attempt to run all around the world. He plans to complete the trip by running the Dublin Marathon in October 2014. By then he will have run an unbelievable 50,000km or 31,000 miles!
Already Tony has completed a run across Ireland, followed by a run from Newfoundland down through and across the USA all the way to California. Then on he went down through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
406 days into his colossal undertaking he has covered over 14,000km or 8700 miles in 323 ‘run days’! That is an average of over 43km or 26.9 miles per run day! Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, Tony has completed over a Marathon per run day!! That is over 323 marathons in a little over a year!! Can you believe that!!
Yes you can!! Because in many ways that should not surprise us as Tony Mangan is an ‘Extreme Runner’ or ‘Ultra Runner’! He is the current holder of two world 48 hour running records. Tony broke the world indoors track record in a race in the Czech Republic in 2007 running 426km almost non stop. He followed up on this performance by breaking the world treadmill record with 405km in Longford in 2008.
So Tony Mangan definitely has the pedigree for this world run and is very determined to complete his life’s ambition, but it is a gigantic undertaking. He has experienced some amazing, wonderful and weird situations and people on his travels. He is currently in Ireland on a very short break as a surprise 50th birthday visit for his sister Ann, but on December 31st, he will return to recommence his epic journey by running the length of South America.
He has financed himself fully to date, except for a couple of small and loyal sponsors but now he needs some more sponsorship to help him in his task. He needs to employ a support vehicle for the 5 month ardous South American leg over the Andes Mountains and there is a cost associated with that. He is appealing for some corporate sponsorship and also for private donations to help him achieve his dream. Tony is aware that it is not a great time to be asking for support but every little will help. He has opened a bank account for donations:
Permanent TSB, 70, Grafton Street, Dublin, Ireland.
Sort Code: 990610
Donations can also be done on his website blog: www.theworldjog.com/blog
Tony is also supporting the charity AWARE and has been raising money for that great charity from the start.
The Andes will present a fierce challenge for him as he will be running for 5 months in the mountains climbing up to 4,500 meters over dozens of peaks. A support vehicle will be essential for that section. This will cost €1,500 per month including the hire of a driver, use of vehicle, fuel and daily expenses. Tony already has a driver and vehicle lined up but requires urgent funding to go ahead. He desperately needs some publicity to help generate support and sponsorship.
December 31st he returns Panama to continue on his truly epic run. While we are all celebrating the New Year, Tony will be running marathon after marathon down through South America. But he wouldn’t have it any other way. Tony’s email address: email@example.com and/or contact me by email or phone and I will arrange for Tony to revert to you asap.
Thanking you sincerely
Larry Doherty (087 2671066)
Tony Mangan Support Group
The Most Daring Expedition of the Millennium .
The World 48 hour record-holder running over 30,000 miles around the world.
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!
Sorry for the lack of activity lately. You see on November 30th I flew back to Dublin for a short time out till December 12th. Unfortunately I just ran out of time and could not finish running North America. Upon my return I will return to my finishing spot as I still got 300km still to run.
It was also a surprise visit for my sister Ann’s 50th birthday on December 1st. Only my mam, niece and nephew knew.
Here is the video of my arrival at her house at midnight. What a shock she got!
And there were lots of tears flowing from all around!
And also HERE
In the background I am playing Bruce Springsteen’s birthday song, one of my favourites. Press to play> Surprise, Surprise ….” Today is your birthday, we have travelled a long way….”
I also hope to use the opportunity to raise some funds for the run and have a much needed rest before the South America leg.
MANY THANKS TO JOHN BUCKLEY SPORTS FOR THEIR VERY GENEROUS HELP WITH SHOES!
JOHN ALSO HELPED ME DURING MY COMPETITIVE CAREER.
IT IS TRULY WONDERFUL TO SEE ONE OF IRELANDS GREAT AND SUCCESSFUL ATHLETES GIVING SOMETHING BACK TO THE SPORT.
PLEASE SUPPORT JOHN’S SPORTS SHOP AND VISIT HIS WEBSITE HERE
THANKS VERY MUCH TO ASH IN RUNWAYS IN DUBLIN’S PARNELL STREET FOR THEIR HELP IN PROVIDING ME WITH MY RUNNING APPAREL FOR THE NEXT STAGE OF THE RUN, OVER THE ANDES MOUNTAINS!
THIS WILL SURELY BE THE MOST CHALLENGING STAGE. 6,000KM AND 5-6 MONTHS IN THE ANDES MOUNTAINS WITH CLIMBS UP TO 4,500 METERS. RUNWAYS HAVE PROVIDED ME WITH SOME GREAT WARM WEATHER AND COOL WEATHER CLOTHING.
RUNWAYS WERE ALSO A GREAT SPONSOR DURING MY COMPETITIVE CAREER.
ABOUT TWO MONTHS AGO ASH KINDLY EMAILED ME ASKING ME TO COME IN NEXT TIME I WAS IN DUBLIN OR NEEDED SOMETHING
PLEASE SUPPORT RUNWAYS AND CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE HERE
THE RUNWAYS RUNNING TOPS HAVE BEEN MODIFIED BY GER, MY DRESSMAKER
I THINK I BETTER CLARIFY THAT GER IS A FRIEND OF MY SISTER AND IS A SEAMSTRESS.. THANKS ALSO GER!
SHE ADDED 6 POCKETS TO EACH RUNNING TOP..
since Tony began his World Run on 25th October 2010
Text WORLDJOG to 50300 to donate €4.
100% of text cost goes to Aware across most network providers. Some providers apply VAT which means a minimum of €3.26 will go to Aware. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 01 4433890.
I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...