St. Martin - Running and Hiking Trails
Paul aboard S/V Distant Shores II ready for an 8 km run in the hills of St. Martin
It's important to get off the boat once and awhile and do activities that help keep you fit when you're living afloat. Something Paul and I like to do regularly is to participate in local running or hiking activities. We love to be outside and running and/or hiking gets us out into the countryside to explore places in the area we're visiting that we might not see otherwise.
Today, Sunday February 23/14, Paul participated in the Gymfit Time Trial de Bellevue, an 8 km run along trails in the hills of St. Martin, the French side of the island.
We had hiked these same trails with our friends, Lynne and Ken of S/V Silverheels III, a few days before and Paul and Lynne, the runners in the group, had done a few runs too. You can learn more about the trails of St. Martin at www.stmartintrails.com and find out about organized outings too.
Lynne of S/V Silverheels III and Paul on Bellevue Trails
And the week before, we had taken a break from editing and boat projects to enjoy a hike on a lovely shady downhill trail past an old sugar mill in St. Martin with about 30 fellow cruising sailors that Mark from S/V Sealife had organized. So the social aspect of hiking and running in foreign countries is as important and as pleasurable to us as the exercise and exploration.
Paul on a hike we did with fellow cruisers last week. The views over the island are beautiful.
Paul signed up for today's 8 km run at Tri-Sport St. Maarten Tours on the Dutch side of the island who also offer hiking, cycling and kayak tours but the majority of the runners participating today were from the French side and were French speaking locals. Events like this are a really fun way to meet people that live in the country you're visiting and become immersed in the culture a little bit, rather than just socializing with other travellers.
Paul running on the Bellevue Trails on the French side of St. Martin near Marigot
When in Grenada this past summer, we both joined a fun running club called the Hash House Harriers (HHH) which is an international running club with both hiking and running events. I hiked and Paul walked and the trails were timed so that hikers and walkers finished around the same time. A BBQ followed so it was always a good time.
Sheryl on a Hash House Harrier event on the north coast of Grenada.
Every weekend in Grenada there was an HHH event on trails in a different part of the island so we really got to see some unusual places and meet great people! See our newsletter "On! On! Hashing in Grenada" about this. We also got back in to shape in a hurry since the trails were up and down hills, across or along creeks and rivers, through forests and plantations, along beaches, up cliffs. Great fun!
In Grenada we really got in shape participating in a Hash House Harrier event every weekend.
We had participated in HHH events in Gibraltar many years before. One of the runs was through the tunnels of the Rock of Gibraltar! When you're a Hash House Harrier you're welcome to join in the events held in any country there's a club.
Today's 8 km run in St. Martin started early, at 7:00 a.m., since it gets too hot to run during the day. To get to the Race Start, Paul and Lynne took our dinghy to the dock at Port de Plaisance Marina on the Dutch side of St. Maarten.
Then they had a 2 km walk up the road to the Race Start in Marigot on the French side of the island, crossing the border from the Dutch side along the way.
Paul and Lynne warm up for their run with a 2 km walk to the Race Start crossing the border into the French side of St. Martin.
At the Race Start there were about 80 runners and each runner was given a start time 30 seconds apart to stagger them on the trail. The times were determined by a draw of names.
Paul's start was at 21 minutes after the first start and, by chance, Lynne's was only slightly later at 28 minutes after the start. Paul was #240 and Lynn was #236.
The brochure said the trails would offer beautiful panoramas and “the chance of encountering goats and monkeys”! We've never seen a monkey on our hikes on this island but have seen goats. However, today the only wildlife encountered were cattle that made large deposits on the trails. Hmmm. The runners had to really what their steps.
Ken (Lynne's husband) and I were at the finish line to cheer on our mates as they crossed the line within a few minutes of one another.
Paul crossing the finish line after running 8 K through the hills of St. Martin.
Cruising friend, Lynne of S/V Silverheels III, crossing the finish line.
The last runners finished about an hour afterwards. It was great since there were people of all ages and several families with children participating together.
Family running teams.
Youngest prize winners at today’s 8 K run in St. Martin.
There were lots of prizes too donated by local businesses and sponsors for the winners of various categories and the 1st prize winner got to sit on a chair and rest :-)
The $15 US entry fee for the run included a very nice breakfast of fresh fruit, yoghurt parfaits, and other snacks plus lots of water, juices and PowerAde.
It was a fun morning and a great time was had by all!
We are now having a restful Sunday afternoon on board Distant Shores II. If the spare part we're waiting for our Mastervolt generator arrives tomorrow, it will be our last day in St. Maarten. The weather is looking good for sailing to the British Virgin Islands on Tuesday. We’ll keep you posted...
Have a good week!
Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard S/V Distant Shores II
Simpson Bay Lagoon
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