Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Barbados West Coast Running Route

Length 4.5km (2.8 miles), terrain goes up hill

Article and photos by John Griffith

For more running routes, see the Route List!

This is the latest entry in John's Jogging the World series, which takes him to some of the most beautiful spots around, described as only John can do it. Thanks, sir! See more of his articles at the Route List.

Need some exercise? Go for a rum.

For an island that brews one of the world’s finest spirits (Mount Gay Rum) it’s not a little ironic that its most famous son is called Sobers.  Barbados is not an island for alcoholic temperance or indeed temperance of any kind yet here I am returned, almost intact, from ten days of sunshine and pepper sauce with a cheeky Easter holiday under the belt.

I took my Newton shoes (bit of a statement) but I only did one run as the roads and beaches are not conducive.  What I did do was swim with turtles, dance at the Oistins weekly fish fry on Friday night, mono-ski (yeah-man, still got it), eat for England (Lobster at “Lobsters Alive”) and of course drink to Olympic standards whilst trying to maintain a sense of decorum.
Island house
It’s been 25 years since me and Mrs G went to Barbados for our honeymoon and so we decided to go back to see how (if) things had changed from the comfort of Crystal Cove on the west coast.  Barbados has developed significantly in that time and is probably the most expensive and desirable Caribbean island but it is worth a visit.  Prices have surged with the arrival of Cliff Richard, Simon Cowell and Mr Abramovich but it still has charm, a local feel and if you keep clear of the more expensive resorts it’s good value too.

The North Point gives you a grandstand view of Atlantic rollers crashing into the cliffs below.  You can stand in safety to watch waves the size of cathedrals do battle with menacing black cliffs.  Each swell is like a line of double-decker buses, six abreast, driving headlong into Westminster Abbey.  Awesome is too small a word.
Spectacular breakers at North Point
My one run took in a short section of the not too appropriately named “Highway 1” and a 3k climb towards the centre of the island.  Highway 1 bears the Barbados Marathon which goes from Bridgetown north for 13 miles and back.  You weave past Mahogany trees that have lifted the pavement (where there is one) and pass empty beaches and posh, gated hotels (Sandy Lane’s cheapest room is £1500/night -- or about US$2300).  Opposite Tamarind Cove Hotel take off inland at the Roti Shop and head uphill.
Mahoganies warping the pavement along Highway 1
You pass derelict Windmills (there are 506 in Barbados – second in density only to Holland) and small churches conveniently close to Rum Shops.  Lining the roads are colourful Chattel houses which are dismantled and moved from old to new foundations when occupants move on. 

The hill we chose to attack went on forever and to be honest, not knowing the area well or whether we could loop back we stopped and turned around after 3k or so.  But the views of along the white sandy west coast from several stopping points are spectacular and worth the climb.

You have to love this island and its people; it’s more than beautiful and proud of its heritage.  Despite being a poor spot for runners I was made more than welcome and I left wanting more.

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