header

BLOG AND PHOTO UPDATE >>> RUNNING TOWARDS THE DARIEN GAP

NELSON

I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO TEST THE DAZER 2 ZAPPER ON ‘ LUCKY ‘ THE FAMILY DOG

Hi All SORRY FOR THE VERY ROUGH DRAFT, AM UNDER PRESSURE TO GET TO THE AIRPORT, AM SLEEPING THERE TONIGHT, WILL DO THE SPELL CHECK AND INSERT MANY PHOTOS NEXT CHANCE. THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT THRU NORTH AMERICA!

.

THE END OF THE ROAD IN NORTH AMERICA!

Back on the road again!
Yes it had been a great time out and lasted  lot longer than I expected, 5 weeks! Initially I flew from Panama to Dublin as a surprise for my sister Ann’s 50th birthday on December 1st. What a shock she got! Then with all the lovely home cooking Ann and my mam fed me I just got a bit soft and decided to extend my stay for Christmas. I was lucky as New Years Eve was the only date available with a flight back here for me, otherwise I would have been thru Colombia by now, but no regrets!

CHRISTMAS DINNER.

CHRISTMAS DINNER WITH MY MAM, BROTHER-IN-LAW JOHN,ME WHERE THE FOOD IS! NEPHEWS GARY AND MARK, AND SISTER ANN, WHO I SURPRISED WITH MY VISIT FOR HER 50TH BIRTHDAY :) NIECE SERENA TOOK THIS PHOTO.
.
As my flight approached Panamas Tocumen International airport about two hours before the great midnight New Years bells I noticed hundreds of ships and boats of all sizes and shapes way down in what looked like an ocean to me. They were mostly lit up. I wondered if they were owned by millionaires and if there was a great New Years party going on below! Then I was told this was in fact a parking zone for the vessels as when they want to go through the Panama Canal they don’t just go through. They usually have to wait several days for their payments to clear. Payment for using the Canal can be several thousands of dollars, the only other possibility is a huge detour around the south of South America.
Stephen, my contact in Panama City who had been kindly minding my gear while I was back in Ireland was busy helping out at a midnight mass that night. He has been living here six years now. A former American Ranger serving in Africa, the Middle-East and other dangerous locations the elite force were needed in. Now Stephen has found his peace as a pastor serving the Lord.
I took a taxi to the Crossroads Bible Church about 34km away. It was around 11pm. Outside the church he had a couple of tables set up where his multi-denominational congregation last year were asked to drop in envelopes with their hopes, wishes and expectations for 2011 were. Now they were picking them up to see how they did.
I spent New Years Day preparing for my almost 300km on the road to Yaviza, the end of the road in Panama and also the most southern location in North America.
Too bad I just couldn´t get this run before my timeout, that would have been ´nice and neat.´
So it was the 2nd of January I pulled on my running shoes. We drove out to where I finished up for the timeout on Via Centenario at a junction at km marker 9.6. This is just a few hundred meters before the Panama Canal. Had I have known I was this close before the time out I would have run on a bit further that glorious Saturday afternoon. Today was Monday. We were told that pedestrians were not allowed across the Panama Canal bridge as there were too many suicides. I was told this was especially so on a weekday but the weekends were different!
Permission Granted. I Am All Set To Run Across The Panama Canal
PERMISSION GRANTED AND I PREPARE TO RUN OVER THE PANAMA CANAL.
.
Presumably the poor people at their wits end could be trusted not to throw themselves over the bridge on a Saturday or Sunday? I am not sure if this meant ´special permission ´was given to journey travellers like me only at the weekend or if it was a blanket rule for everyone. Either way I was refused permission to run over, this would have been the first gap in my run. I was faced with the prospect of skipping the bridge and taking a bus back on Friday or Saturday to run the 1 km over the bridge. The problem was my flight was booked for Colombia on the 12th, so I couldn´t wait till Saturday.

THE PANAMA CANAL

Stephen talked to the senior officer of the two in real military speak, as he put it, I know you got a job to do but my man has a serious mission here and I will take full responsibility and drive directly behind him.
Phone calls were made to a couple of commanding officers and after about a half-hour wait I was told I could run! Thanks Stephen, What a man!

THANKS FOR EVERYTHING STEPHEN :)

The Canal to be honest was no different to a wide river, I snapped it a few times as I ran across it in the hard shoulder. There were two lanes going each way, traffic was pretty heavy that morning which was also a public holiday in Panama.
So once again it was time to say goodbye.

THATS STEPHEN DRIVING BEHIND ME AS I RUN OVER THE PANAMA CANAL

I ran on along the Pan-American highway through the suburbs of Panama City. The going was very tough at it was hot.  I had also taken more baggage than I needed including my laptop which I didn´t even get a connection for on the road that week. There was not much hard shoulder and many times I had to stop and ask directions. Once I stopped at a service station and asked a traffic cop where was such and such an avenue, she didn´t know, nor did she even know the avenue we were on. She stopped a patrol car, same and the two officers phoned their office to inquire, nice and friendly but lets hope there is no emergency!
In the end  was pointed on ahead. That night I was really in a bit of a bind wondering wondering where I was going to sleep. I stopped at a Jehova Witness church.  I told you I got a strong mind! But the security guard said there was nobody at home and he didn’t want to phone.I was running towards Tocumen airport so decided I would try crashing out there in a departure lounge and hopefully find a quiet corner and not be disturbed by a security guard. Being a gringo and with my pack I would look just like any other traveller.
Inside the terminal I managed to find a sofa at the Europcar hire desk. Unlike some of the other dozen hire companies they were closed.  I was pretty cold with the air conditioning, so I ended up pulling out my summer sleeping bag and set my alarm clock.
I had half decent undisturbed sleep, at least till the Europ Car receptionist arrived and woke me at seven asking if I needed a car! 
That second day back on the road it was also difficult to get going. I stopped for a steak breakfast no sooner than I had started running at a cafe at the airport roundabout exit. I am really out of shape. I had run very little during my break and all the Christmas food. Here I was with a heavy pack, out of shape, it was hot, humid. I had even walked a lot yesterday and also at the start today. I made my way to the exit to what I called Tocumen Town as it seemed to stretch out for 7  or 8 km, perhaps smaller communities wanting to align themselves with the airport to carve out some business.
On my left on the opposite side of the road I spotted a likely place I might be able to leave my pack and even return to that night to sleep.

A LIKELY PLACE TO LEAVE MY PACK AND SLEEP TONIGHT

 Yesterday I covered 32km and today hope to make it as far as a small town called Chepo 38km away.
I ordered a soda from Louis. He asked me what I was up to. I showed him my printed out business card which basically just introduces me, mentions I am a world 48 hour record-holder running 50,000km in 5 continents around the world. This of course is printed in Spanish. Having these business cards printed (and special post cards for people who have done me big favours) was one of my better ideas for this trip. It is something I more or less skimmed over in the blog as I was going to keep this secret door opening tool secret for the book! However, increasingly I am finding it is of so much use (the guards at the Panama Canal bridge received some) that it should not be held back from the blog.
Of course I usually have to autograph them! So having made an impression on Louis I moved in for the ´kill ´and asked if I could leave my pack there and return from Chepo later on to pick it up. I more or less assumed I could sleep out around back without even asking him. I could tell by his enthusiasm for my run it was not an issue.
On I ran a little more than 30 more km that day, stopping for frequent rests. Its so hot and muggy, already I am worried about making it to the end of Panama in time for my flight!
At last I made it to Chepo early afternoon. I stopped at the traffic police checkpoint for water, really only making enquiries if I could leave my bag there tomorrow and return again, with the usual idea of a place to stay. No problem I was told after they read my card. As it was still early I decided to go into Chepo for something to eat. I had been told there was a cheap hotel called Pension Calderon there, I decided to stay there tomorrow instead. This was a tactical error, I mean as it was still so early I really should have returned to Tocumen Town and picked up my pack from Louis in the bar and returned here for tonight also. Ah! well too late now.
Back at the bar I spent a long evening listening to my music and catching up on some paperwork.

I WORKED VERY HARD BUILDING UP MY FUEL RESERVE OVER THE TIMEOUT :)

Belkis the waitress told me she was jealous I had given Louis a card and not her, so I signed one for her wishing her a happy New Year. I managed to get my head down around 9.30pm on a car seat they had under a roofed area. Fair play to them they turned off the loud latino music.
Back in Chepo next morning I checked my bag into Calderon´s Pension  and got running.
A couple of hours up the road a nice couple and their very attractive daughter stopped to give me water. They were driving along really slowly in their farm pickup truck, so slow that I was able to ask them if they had any spare water. I usually carry two bottles, one in each hand and another in a satchel on my back. I handed them a card and they immediately wanted to take photos on all their camera phones! I posed with them filling up my bottle…I have being doing this too long now not to know what people would like! Lovely people. Thanks for the water.
That day I only ran only 33km which amazed me as the effort was well past 40km. Just like Costa Rica, there are no km markers in most of Panama. I figured out the distance very carefully later on Google maps. It had been another seriously hot and humid day. Most of Panama looks the same to me to be honest… Lush green vegetation, banana and coconut trees everywhere. I was annoyed to discover that one of the many cameras I now possess and managed to repair back in Dublin is once again broken. I had no choice but to buy my fifth of the run for 140 dollars. I need this for my end of North America pictures in a few days time in Darien.
Because of todays bad day I decided to leave my laptop with Jacob the owner of the pension in Chepo. I also left behind my bivy shelter and other baggage I could manage without for a few days, I will return for them on my way back to Panama City for my flight to Colombia.
 
Next morning while waiting for my bus back to where I finished yesterday I realised because I bought the camera that I had just a little over a hundred dollars in cash on me. This would be cutting it tight for half a week and having to get buses to and from my start finish locations and always have to allow for places to stay.  I hate using atms as my Irish bank charges about 12 or 13 euro for a transaction in these places, in addition to local bank charges, besides I will need dollars for my start in Colombia. So I withdrew instead of 100 or 200 I withdrew 500 dollars, the charge being the same and I don’t want to do this in a few days again.
After I got off my bus it took me half an hour to find yesterdays finish location, I walked back over a kilometer to find it in the dark. I didn´t care I never want to cheat even one step of this run.
I ran by Bayano Lake, a beautiful lake but it was so hard to see it properly as the road kinda goes over a narrow part of it and over a bridge. Tall trees obscuring much of the lake. It´s so great to be back running and discovering the world, so few people have this opportunity, and even if they do even fewer seize it!
A couple of hours up the road I meet a group of American and Canadian birdwatchers. They are in the hard shoulder and have their tri-pods set up, binoculars at the ready. I am aware I should not make much noise, silly as the trucks are blazing by!  They looked surprised as I run by, so I just say I am from Ireland and running around the world.
Two women come over to talk to me. They both offer me water and it turns out one of them is from Colorado a state I lived in for eight years. Her name is Barbara, she gave me two energy bars. I have to dig very deep into my lightened pack to pull out a business card for Barbara, it´s way down and takes me a couple minutes to find it. All the time she tells me it doesn´t matter.

BARBARA WITH THE OTHER BIRD WATCHERS

Eventually I find one, it also has my email address. After thanking the women I run on, there are many dogs out on the road today.  I was really pestered by them all the way to Torti.
Before my timeout I had been using a Dazer 2 dog deterrent but due the huge amount of dog encounters I experienced in Central America I had to keep it permanently in my hand as I ran.  Even in the heavy monsoon rains. Eventually after such incredible usage my Dazer burnt out in the rain! I just happened to send the Dazer dealer an email and they very kindly sent me another one with a nice good luck message written on the back of the envelope.
I was using it today big time! Some people may think this is cruel but I have to state that this wonderful and effective device just sends out an ultra sonic sound.. Harmful, to the dogs it´s just like bringing your granny to an AC/DC concert, ´cept you won´t get a slap of a handbag from the dogs :)
I wanted a big day today, even if it was going to be a long one to get me back on track. I was lucky to see a cop car stopped at the side of the road. I went over flashed my card and asked them if they were from the Torti station more than 35km away, they were, and agreed to take my bag there. As they were pulling off I asked if I could sleep there, figured I would give them time to ask the boss officer and they would have the afternoon to find out. No problem I was told… Nice one! I now am even more motivated to make it to Torti as that will be a 65km day. I have a plan that when I arrive I will ask can I leave the bag there tomorrow (my lightened pack is still heavier than I need) and commute back for another night. The advantage of this is I can run right from where I finish and my early start is not ruined by a time-wasting commute, straight out the door.
So, on and on I run on in an easterly direction through the afternoon heat, getting some very welcoming shade on the opposite side of the road from some tall trees as the dipping hot sun is to the south. This means  I sometimes got to run with the traffic at my back, but there is not much traffic.
This whole run through Central America has been a bit crazy as you will remember when I was in California I was 8 hours minus gmt and now I am just 5 hours. Such is the shape of Central America I have been forced to run back east the equivalent distance I ran across the states! In a day or two I will at last be able to start running south properly. I am now about 8 degrees above the equator. I will pass that in Equador in a few weeks time.
The run into Torti seemed to go on forever. As  I approached the Town for a good 10km out there was rare street lighting all the way into town, and even more amazing it was working!  I guess it was needed such was the number of straggling houses all along the road.
This as you can guess meant more and more dogs coming out to be Zapped. They would stop in their tracks and wonder what happened!
So I made it to Torti, just after dark. Not that pace is important to me I have found that I am now running between 7 and 8km per hour. This is the slowest I have ever run in my life, but this is the longest I have ever run in my life! I just settled into this routine comfortably. I  was famished when I arrived so stopped for a double portion chicken dinner at a cheap roadside asado cafe.
Then some ´bright spark ´sent me a kilometre past my turnoff for the station, luckily a patrol officer spotted me before I became a Forest Gump and ran all the way over the Darien without stopping!
The two officers escorted me back to the station, offered me dinner but I told them I had already eaten but needed a shower!
When I told them of my plan I was told it was no problem I could leave my bag here and run the 51km to Santa Fe and return to sleep on the same mattress they gave me tonight…. Nice one..
I got off to a nice 5am start, breakfast finished and all! Purposely I had left my passport in my pack at the station as I didn´t want to lose it or have it stolen on the road. This was a mistake as after about 20km there was a police checkpoint in Agua Fria just after crossing into Darien state. I told them to ring the Torti police station, they did and a whole load of other calls holding me there for 40 minutes before letting me go. In fairness I didn´t really blame them as they were just doing their job. I was let go on but told to report to Santa Fe police station. That means I am now committed to making it to there tonight. Here they were searching every vehicle and bus. The passengers had to get out and have their possessions searched for drugs or weapons in Panama’s on going fight against drugs and crime. The huge effort that is going in to this I can’t understand why they dont have even one sniffer dog.  This area near the Darien is the area it all comes in, mostly by boat from Colombia. Boats are not allowed to travel after 6pm.

AGUA FRIA CHECKPOINT

On I ran, it was hot,hot and humid. I got to some village and there was no water except for a construction worker in a digger who spared me a little of his precious fluid. But it was soon gobbled up, I am drinking about a 750ml sports bottle every 3 or 4km at this time of day. I got down to 350ml and gave myself the luxury of a short squirt on my hot head. Next time I will do it more slowly and hit the center so as not to waste as much, I learn every day. Nobody knows the temperature or the humidity, especially me. I don’t really think it matters as I still got to run it either way. I think it’s probably around 40C. I remember in southern Mexico I was getting semi-support from the Angeles Verdes commuting Nirvana my trusty jogging stroller. I never asked how far it was to the top of a mountain. It turned out I was to climb for a week in that Cerro till I finally got to the top! It doesn’t matter how far it is to the top you still got to run it! Sure Mangan, wait till you get to the Andes, What did you say.. five months! Having said that I frequently ask people how far to the next town, community, water location etc andam never surprised. Sometimes I ask just for a laugh to see what they say. I have been told 10km is 5 hours in a bus or anything up to 50 or 100km! I find the most accurate guage is to ask what the walk time is as most people don’t have their own transportation. Of course I always get the car driving time which is so frustrating to the runner. One hour in a car on a good road can be two days for me.
Here I made an experiment I had been meaning to try. I was waving an empty water bottle, asking drivers for water, most were confused as to what I wanted.
Eventually I spotted an entrance to a plantation on my left and ran up it hoping the dogs were tame! Thankfully there were none about.I called out to an elderly man who was working in his rice field.
Agua Por Favor? “
 These people were indigenous people, Indians, I can’t remember which tribe. Though they are not dressed the same I wonder if they could be Embera- Wounaan > DETAILS
The man came over to me and we talked for a while as I drank the water they poured for me.
 His grandchildren were laughing at me trying to pronounce their name as we sat on the ground under their stilted house. This is a great idea, gives great shade, also protection in the rainy season.
Nelson was his name. He told me he had been living here 75 years, so I didn’t really expect him to be able to read and write. Nevertheless I showed him a card and very sensitively told him what it was about giving him the impression I didn’t know. He tells me the dogs are out in the fields and always come back at 6pm, I guess that means he doesn’t have to feed them that much.
Everyone seemed so happy here with their simple life, no ipods or ipads!

THIS INDIAN FAMILY GAVE ME WATER AND SHELTER UNDER THEIR HOUSE

I would have loved to have stayed but just as well I didn’t get the invite as I am committed to making it to Santa Fe today.
Two km down the road I stopped to talk to Raymondo, a campesino who works cutting the grass andhedges with his machete.

RAYMONDO

Eventually I make it to Santa Fe and see its about 1,5km off the main road to the center. Darned if I am going to run there as it’s off my route and if I can’t stay there tomorrow night I will have to make my way there to continue the run. As I said it was off the road, so I got a taxi! well shared with a family of four. At the Frontier Police Station I jumped out of the taxi and I am sure officer Lewis must have wondered how exactly I am running around the world! Another wait, phone calls and I was off on a bus back to Torti police station. Somehow or other, I had lost the 500 dollars I had taken out of the atm machine the other day, what an expensive breakdown that camera was, and you know what… Then the God darn thing started working again! I also lost my Dazer 2…. Dog smile > :)
By this stage I had about 75 km to Yaviza and the end of North America. So I am going to run it comfortably after all in 7 days, I wondered if I would make it in 8 or 9! I think I can do it in a day and a half. Logic says a full day and then a handy day into Yaviza, nice and early for photos, but I decided it would be better to run on and not to commute back tomorrow. In other words, finish on the road in a cheap hotel if I can find one and then start out the door at 3 or 4am and no messing with a commute.
So it was a handy 25km today and on the way I stopped for something to eat, a nice beef and pepper dish with rice and veg. In this cafe built in the front of a house the lady was sweeping up around the tables.

I HAD A DELICIOUS LUNCH HERE

 I had noticed that a three year old boy was playing with his fire engine and there was a knife on the table. I couldn’t believe how calm the woman was when the boy started walking across the lumpy concrete floor with the blade of the knife stuck in his mouth!
” Put the knife down Pappy! ” she calmly said while continuing to sweep around the tables. I had another coffee and asked her was she not worried about the boy as then he ran around the back of the house with the knife. I seem to remember hearing about a study about letting kids play with sharp knives and implements, toughen them up and learn about dangers the study said, I wondered if the researchers used their own kids in the study, but this was a bit much for me! I left the lady a tip for the delicious meal and she was genuinely surprised!
I ran on for another couple of kilometers and finished in Meteti at the Hotel Felizidad.

THANKS VICTOR FOR A NICE STAY IN THE HOTEL FELICIDAD!

I asked the receptionist if the manager would give me a discount as $17 was much more than I normally pay. Normally the receptionists couldn’t be bothered or don’t have the ‘ bottle ‘ to phone the manager or owner but fair play to these guys as they made about three phone calls before finally tracking down Victor one of the owners. It turned out Victor is a runner himself but can’t come run the final day in North America with me tomorrow as he is in Panama City. Victor kindly gave me a free night! Thanks Victor and Hotel Felizidad for a nice comfy room. I spent four hours in a local internet cafe as it was my first time logging on in about 6 days. I got a very nice email from Barbara the Colorado lady that said she enjoyed my site so much and has read seven months already! This is the woman who only a few days ago was birdwatching in Panama and now is back home and in between ran the Disney Marathon in Florida!. She has travelled much in her life and is also a committed runner. She says she sells her artwork to fund her travels and races abroad. Barbara said many people say to her she will have weak joints with all this activity but she says she would rather risk that than an empty inactive  life.
She gave me some inspiration and encouragement at a time I needed it. She also gave me a very generous donation towards the run.  Thanks Barbara. Please check out her website for some great artwork HERE
Next morning was Sunday, my seventh day on the road since leaving Panama City. I got going about half four and almost immediately I passed a place which I thought was a cafe in the dark. There was a delicious aroma of coffee. It was another checkpoint, my fifth in 3 days. The problem here was that I was delayed half an hour while he made phone calls and I was loosing vital ‘ cool running time ‘ At first the officer refused me a coffee, then I asked ” Why you not giving me a cup!? ” :( He took pity on me and sent me around to the kitchen with another officer who dished out a tiny scoop into a large mug. I felt like pulling his ear off and probably had such a menacing look because he kept scooping till the mug was full. This checkpoint also doubled up as a shop! I stopped at a house for water. There were large water barrels outside. I thought they had their own well and were selling the water to passersby as almost every house has these water barrels outside. The lady here was called Sheila. Her friend had a name that sounded like ‘ cervesa ‘ or Spanish for beer!

ROLL OUT THE BARREL!

 She told me the water in the region was bad and this water comes from Panama City. This is one of the few places I haven’t been able to drink tap water.
I got about three decent hours in this morning, along the way passing a snake on the road, more loco dogs and a huge cattle drive. There were about 100 cows in it with one cowboy on a horse to the front and another to the rear. Just as I was about halfway through and the cows looking very distressed as they threatened to stampede, a mini bus comes up from behind.
 I am hoping he is not dumb as I have seen these idiots honk their horns before! I am in the middle and am thinking about a book someone once showed me called something like ” The worlds greatest failures! ” he was pointing out a round the world cyclist that had just about finished his cycle around the world, arriving back in his country in the airport and only hours from the finish his bike was crushed on a conveyor belt! Imagine putting a bicycle on a conveyor belt!
Would I be in the next edition? I wondered.
 
” Irish runner stampeded to death 20km from the end of North America! “ Who would have thought of that one!
The road is really in bits now, to put it mildly! Big piles of rubble like it was moved around with a digger and just left there. The traffic just drives around it all, this is the worst section of road in all of my North American route.

THE WORST ROADS WERE RESERVED FOR THE LAST DAY

It is really hot now, and I am really suffering now. Also this last day I drank more of those energy drinks than on any other day, about 6 or 7.

THIS HOUSE IS ON STILTS

A man stops me at the side of the road wanting to know what I am up to. I ask him for water but he doesn’t seem to care, so I tell him no circus today and run on. I stopped shattered at a shop and get some more drinks. I ask the lady there why Panamanians don’t really seem to care about my plight and offer me water I always have to ask, she apologises telling me it’s because it’s not their culture when I tell her I was offered so much water in Arizona and Californian desert areas. Do people really drive with no drinking water here as my experiment concluded. Surely this is unwise with the amout of breakdowns they have here.  I feel a bit bad when she comes out and gives me two bottles of water, an energy drink and 9 bananas. She wont take payment. I eat 7 of the bananas, I lie there for almost two hours before making the final assault on North America. Just as I start running I am hungry again. Still I run on, I am running for short 2 and 3 km segments now before taking a short rest. The trees are much shorter here, so I got to wait an extra hour for decent shade.
Once I shelter behind a pillar under a bus shelter.

RELIEF AT LAST!

Despite all this I feel well hydrated as my urine is pale and I am peeing a lot.
I run towards Yaviza, gathering energy as I get closer. On and on I run, it seems to go on forever. Then I see the welcome to Yaviza sign. From the shanty shacks on the hills people are clapping. I am not sure it is for me till I hear the word ” Bravo!”
And a man calls out from a house asking if I am okay for water, did someone hear my prayer right at the end!
I am feeling emotional, The Darien Gap area has been special to me since I read about it first about 30 years ago. I will never forget that book, in fact I got a copy of it packed away with me. An English walker called Jon Snow who planned to walk from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska. He gave up in Panama City due to the infections and lack of nutrients his body had especially after hacking his way through the Darien gap Jungle.  I had been thinking about him all week and the others I had read about that had come through here.
Jon Snow in particular was tough as nails, An old Etonian, he often had a  ’ 65km march today ‘ as he would say with a monocle in his eye as his contacts kept getting fogged up. He walked with a backpack that weighed about 35kilos or 80 pounds.  No wimpy jogging stroller for our man Jon!
His pace was relentless about 6 km per hour almost non stop all day. He even wore a coat as he had no room in his backpack for it in the sweltering heat. This man was an animal, often walking more kms than I run and rarely drank water. This is the bit I am fascinated by… He drank about a liter a day from his canteen but in the evening drank ‘ gallons of sweetened tea, ‘ as he put it. Several times a day I shake my head and wonder how Jon did it at such a pace, rarely stopping, a heavy pack, little fluid, a coat and as blind as a bat!
On Monday night, the day after I finished the run here I read this chapter again and realized that this segment of road I am running on now did not exist in his day as he talks about swamping it from Yaviza to Santa Fe, 76km away.
Jon Snow died from infection he picked up in the Darien gap Jungle. The name of his book is called The Rucksack Man.
If anyone is interested in this kind of stuff also check out Giant Steps by Karl Bushby who made it through the Darien Gap. Karl started his walk in Tierra del Fuego and is currently in Siberia. He walked over the frozen Bering Straights between Alaska and Russia. His goal is to walk in unbroken steps from Tierra del Fuego to his hometown Hull in England in unbroken steps. His two water crossings are the Beiring Straights and it seems he has some kind of special permission to walk the Chunnel between France and England.
Also a good read is ‘ The Longest Walk ‘ by George Meeagan,  Tierra del Fuego to Alaska. George is an Englishman who started his walk with his Japanese wife. He sent her home pregnant while still in Patagonia!! George tells of having to wait 3 months till he got to Lima, Peru to find out if he has a boy or a girl! Imagine that and in these days of Skype and text messaging… I don’t know how lucky I am :)
I had the idea today to do a ‘ 12 Days of Christmas  ’ expedition feature next Christmas, where each day of the 12 I would tell about my favourite travellers, their journeys, books and websites with the top two legends, well my favourites reserved for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
 
I run on more. The road is suddenly gone. It’s now a pedestrian street. There are many people out walking around. Music is blaring from the grubby bars. People are sitting on walls as I run through the small downtown, right up into Yaviza center, up to a monument, picture taken I ran over the pedestrian swing bridge over the river Chucunaque. That will do nicely.
North America conquered. My first continent of the run.
I walk over the bridge and see a hiking trail. That is the start of the Darien Gap Jungle, forbidden territory, maybe someday.
I walked back towards the center along the narrow pedestrian path, kind of like an old Italian village. 
A man hanging out there called Albert helped me find a cheap place to stay. I was told I would have to go to register with the Frontier Police. Albert brought me along and waited outside. I was in the same compound that Jon Snow was escorted to.
Here an officer told me in no uncertain terms that I would not be allowed to walk across the Darien! His English was poor and he insisted on speaking in English, The penny finally dropped when I told him I wasn’t going to try to sneak over, besides look at me, I don’t even have a pack I left the rest of my gear in Torti police station, am wearing shorts and have no sleeves!
 How could I cross a jungle like this?
Besides, It’s closed to crossings now as there has been too much kidnapping and bad publicity due to the drug war lords and other criminals hiding out there. A little further in to the bush is the area where three Irishmen were arested many years ago by the Colombians for ‘ suspicious activities ‘ This caused a diplomatic row between our two countries.
That’s what all the checkpoints on the road were for, Panama does not want a road built through this only stretch of the Trans American highway without a road. They want to keep the drugs out.
So now its back to Panama City and a flight to Colombia on 12th. South America, Here I come :)

YAVIZA AT LAST

Post to Twitter

7 Responses to “BLOG AND PHOTO UPDATE >>> RUNNING TOWARDS THE DARIEN GAP”

  1. kevin scanlon Says:

    tony that is a brilliant blog. good luck travelling to columbia today. kevin

  2. stewart cochrane Says:

    yes by’ another great read tony…
    good luck with columbia…stay hydrated

    your friends in snowy, friggin’ freezin’ newfoundland

    stewart and bernie cochrane

    newfoundland
    canada

  3. Andrés Montero Flores Says:

    Guaahuu¡¡

    Stewart and Cochrane Bernie;

    The next Winter I offer you both the same Hosting than Tony in Nayarit Mexico, Our Climate is warm, dry and pacefully our first guest came just from Canada on Winter And eventually we receive still Canadian partners.

    greetings.

    Andrés

  4. stewart cochrane Says:

    andres ….when did tony stay with you???

    also…do you operate a hotel???if so please send me he details…
    e-mail= bscochrane@gmail.com

    stewart

  5. Andrés Montero Flores Says:

    Yes, we gave Tony one free suporting nigth and breakfast on august 08 2011

    http://www.periodicoexpress.com.mx/nota.php?id=250493

    and also ran with him half marathón, since Ceboruco Vulcano-limits with Jalisco state.

    And incredible experience being with this stone-Man¡¡

    Following him how far is running is for us admirable¡¡

    He is doing and special History ever done in all the world.

    by the way, I have and Hotel, Mexican style, Rural Tourisms and rustic adobe-wood cabins for rent.

    Today several friends from U.S. are enjoying our excelent climate.

    I use to Rent the small depts. for $250.00 Dollars a month, electric service, hot water on restroom, kitchen, a big yards and fruit trees.

    Mail: hotelquintadelreal@hotmail.com

    We use to receive persons like, Tony, Jamel Bali, Facundo Recondo or recently Ian…and Irish cycle riders and other special guy like Mangan.

    We use to provide suport this people because I am coordinator of tourism and culture in my Municipality.

    we want to serve our people and foreign Tourists.

    your friend

    Andrés Montero Flores
    Ahuacatlán Nayarit Mexico.

  6. Barb Churchley Says:

    Wow – you’re at the beginning of a new continent! Can you believe it?!
    So glad you have the support vehicle – it will make a huge difference. Enjoy every step – you deserve it!! Barb

  7. Ann for Tony Says:

    Hi everybody,

    Just received an email from Tony to say that he has been let down by his driver Alexander and the support vehicle. Tony is now intending to go it alone through Colombia. He is currently hiding some food and water along the road on the route that he intends to take. He hopes to be running on Monday or Tuesday. He is disappointed at this delay in starting Colombia but as we all know Tony “where there’s a will there’s a way” and if anyone can do this alone it will be Tony. I will update if I hear anymore news from Tony.

Leave a Reply


× one = 7

since Tony began his World Run on 25th October 2010

Please sponsor a world walk hotel night or a meal etc!You do not need a Paypal account, just a bank card! Press Paypal link below. Thank You :)

Donate to Aware

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.

.

About Tony

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...

Sponsors

North Pole Marathon Logo
UVU clothing
On Running
Chariot Carriers Logo
Dion Networks Logo
Great
Dry Max Sports
John Buckley

translate

flickr slideshow

view full size

Aware is The World Jog Charity.

AWARE LOGO