Saturday, February 14, 2015

Caribbean Running Cruise Day 5 - St. Kitts Rain Forest Hash

I'm not gonna lie -- I was a little nervous about today. We had a very early start -- 6am briefing and breakfast -- to be off the ship at 7. Funny -- no one else was trying to get off the boat with us today.

Today was a traditional hash run -- either 5K(ish) or 10K(ish) in a rainforest preserve. We were being hosted by the local Hash House Harriers, including two cruise favorites:



We were off the boat so quickly that we had time to kill in the completely empty cruise port...

'nuff said

But then -- wow -- a bunch of funky open-sided buses turned up and we all piled on board for the 20-minute trip to the Wingfield Estate, a former sugar plantation turned nature reserve and batik factory.

wave goodbye to the people on the dock -- you'll never see them again! - photo by Jenny Hadfield

The drive was interesting -- and SO NICE to get away from cruise-world for a while! Minor highlight ... as we went up a hill, we passed a cemetery. I called over to Deborah and said, "Deborah, look -- it's the dead center of the island." She looked at me and said, "Really? Wow. How do you know? Is it because we're going up this hill?" I just stared at her for one beat, two beats, three beats... before she burst out laughing. The old jokes are the best jokes, eh?

When we got to the race site, we dropped off our bags and got ready to run. Percy explained the race markings -- green circles for the 10K, blue circles for the 5K, then look for orange ribbons in the forest reserve.

"when you get in the forest, look for the orange ribbons"
This is of course different from a traditional hash run, where the hare would set off a little bit early and mark the course with flour... but since they had to mark out the courses early, they had to use something a bit more permanent.

It was another hot day, so I was looking forward to getting into the forest. We took a final group photo ... I mean, we were all going to go running in a rain forest, we might not all come back, right?

one crazy! - photo by Jenny Hadfield
Then we started off down the hill to the main road -- sadly, we all knew that that meant we'd be climbing back up later!

We ran along the main road for a stretch, then turned and ran up a hill until the courses split. I'm REALLY GLAD I was running with Wil, because I could barely spot the markings. Lots of running on dirt-and-grass roads. I'm still not sure if we missed part of a loop somewhere but, if so, I think we all did.

Eventually we rejoined the 5K course, running back into the Wingfield Estate at a water stop. I think we were at 2.6 miles or so by our GPS, and the 5Kers we chatted with said they were at 1.1ish. That's when we headed up into the reserve.

The next couple of miles was a little tough. Some broad but steep paths, some single-track trails, and a dry and a wet stream crossing. Lots of climbing up and picking our way down.

A few times we had to squeeze past our fellow runners, but almost everyone was really good-natured about it. (Which was definitely helped by Jenny's pre-race "trail etiquette" talk!)

Wil and I came across the finish line via a short detour, as we had climbed up a bank to avoid a bunch of vans that had just turned up... but we high-fived BJ and John, then drew our cards from Karen:

We also marveled at JUST HOW LONG IT HAD TAKEN US... 1:12 and change to go 4.6ish miles. But, still -- look how great this satellite image of our run looks!

We collected our drink tickets and promptly got a couple of Caribe beers and went back to the shady finish line. Later on we had lunch (hooray for veggie burgers!), a bit more beer, and much more cheering -- especially when Jenny came in with lots of "ducklings".

At some point we joined in on a "tour of the estate" -- which turned out to be a tour up to the batik factory and a visit to a very well-stocked gift shop. After decided we absolutely did not need anything we both said, well, we *could* get new sarongs for summer at Camp Wil-Sun... So back in we went, coming out with sarongs and headbands. What are we like???

A short while later, we had a traditional Hash House Harriers ceremony -- led by Popcorn. There was singing, drinking, a tiny bit of shaming, oh, and lots of drinking.


 Not even Coach Jenny was safe...

Richard, who had run the hash on a previous trip, was in for special punishment -- he had to drink a beer out of his (very large) shoe:

Finally, we piled back on the buses for a trip around the island. Lots of churches, lots of abandoned sugar plantations, lots of old sugar plantations converted into posh resorts, and not all that much else. (Apparently the sugar industry closed down in 2005 ... due to plummeting profits. However, the government of St. Kitts converted the old sugar railway into a tourist attraction -- which I would have loved to see... maybe next time.)

We did make one very nice stop at a place where a lava flow from the island's volcano had reached the sea -- very pretty. And, of course, another chance to shop! (Ha!)

Then back on the buses for the remainder of the trip back to the port. I think a lot of folks headed straight back to the ship, but we decided to go for a little walk through the quiet town ... in a lot of ways, MUCH more appealing than St. Maarten. (That said, I can almost imagine living in St. Maarten... )

Eventually we made our way back to the ship, stopping to buy ridiculous color-changing nail polish. Because... toenails.

toes inside

toes outside
Then another typically enjoyable evening on the ship -- dinner, drinks, chatter, sleep.

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