26.2 Adventurous Miles Through Haiti

Four, adventurous days on the ground in Haiti. Running 26.2 miles through the rocky, mountain terrain to raise awareness and funds for clean water.

What Will You Do? from Healing Waters International on Vimeo.

Warm tears streamed down my face as I kissed my boys goodbye at the airport; preparing to board a plane with an end destination of Haiti. I just hate leaving my son. And Haiti scared me. It was a place I’d only seen on the news, often negatively portrayed.

To be completely transparent, I jumped on this trip pretty last minute as I was hoping to be pregnant. But when September arrived with no sign of pregnancy, I decided to lace up my sneakers and go all in.

The Trip Objective: Run5050 + Healing Waters + Bonfire

This was an influencer marketing trip with an objective of traveling to Haiti to run a marathon alongside Bryce of Run5050. Why a marathon in Haiti? To create awareness about the global water crisis and raise funds to implement more Healing Waters clean water projects.

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time you know that my main event every year is Fit for Her MPLS. A local fitness, fundraising event that benefits The Her Initiative. The Her Initiative is an extension of Healing Waters specifically focused on women and children {who often do most of the heavy lifting, literally, when it comes to fetching water}.

PS – Minnesota friends, mark your calendars, the fourth annual Fit for Her MPLS will be taking place on Saturday, March 2nd, 2019 {more details coming soon}.

In 2017, I took a trip to the Dominican with The Her Initiative and Healing Waters which only increased my passion for contributing to the global water crisis.

Water Walk | Dominican Republic | Clean Water | Healing Waters
Water Walk Dominican Republic September 2017

So when I found out that Bryce of Run5050 was running 50 marathons in 50 states to fund 50 clean water projects; one of which was in Haiti, I said that if I wasn’t pregnant by the time the trip came around I’d join him.

As I mentioned in the video above, I don’t have a lot of money to give towards ending the global water crisis. But if I can use my skills, fitness, and running to raise funds and inspire others into action; I’m doing something.

The global water crisis has a solution, and I want to contribute to that solution. This is the best way I know how.

Marathon in Haiti | Haiti | Ultra Marathon
Finishing the Marathon in Macieux with Bryce, Run5050

With minimal training, October rolled around and it was time to pony up to what I’d committed to. I mean if Bryce was running a marathon every weekend, surely I could run one marathon alongside him.

This was a quick trip to Haiti with only 3-4 days actually on the ground in Haiti. The best way to recap the trip is with a day-by-day reflection, below.

But before I dive into the details I have to note that this trip was made possible through a partnership with Bonfire — an incredible platform to easily design, sell, and order premium custom shirts. An exceptional way to fundraise with custom apparel.

Ultimately, I have a goal of selling 1,000 of these custom Bonfire sweatshirts, tees, and tanks to raise $15,000 which will in turn fully fund a Healing Waters clean water project for a community in need.

Fueled by Water | Raise Money for Clean Water

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has already contributed and purchased shirts. You’re support is so greatly appreciated and I’ve been overwhelmed by how truly generous you all are! Thank you!

Now, if I had to sum up my trip to Haiti in one word, I use adventurous. Read the day-by-day recap below to find out why.

Haiti Day One: The Riot + Tidaken + The Boat Ride

I’m not sure I was physically prepared for the 26.2 miles I committed to running on this trip. But I definitely wasn’t mentally prepared for all that I would see and experience.

Like landing and driving straight into a riot. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if the crowded streets, black smoke from burning tires, and locals jumping on our truck for a ride was everyday practice or if something out of the ordinary was happening. I’m slightly grateful for my ignorance, because paying to get routed out of a riot is one anxious way to enter a foreign country.

Then we stopped for lunch along the coast and got to see one of the most beautiful views of Haiti. Nothing like I’d see in the news. It was tropical, peaceful, and beautiful.

From there we drove to a small community on the central western coast of Haiti, Tidaken. A lowland region where it’s sweltering hot and humid almost year round.

Tikaden Haiti | Rice Farming
Tikaden, Haiti

In Tikaden, most people survive by substance farming, particularly working in the swampy rice fields.

Prior to the Healing Waters project installed by community leaders and a local church, all water was collected in muddy canals that people and animals bathed and defecated in. As a result, the community was suffering from severe health issues like cholera and chronic diarrhea.

The community has named their water project ‘Walk of Moses’ because they see it as a miracle from God. They now have access to safe, clean water for only 5 Gourde {comparable to 8 cents USD} per 5 gallon jug.

Tikaden Haiti | Clean Water | Water Project
Tikaden, Haiti Clean Water Project AKA ‘Walk of Moses’

 Since the water project opened in July 2018 it has provided 7,830 gallons of clean, safe water to the community of Tidaken.

Meeting the community members who after working a full day in the hot, rice fields would then put in additional hours to build the clean water project site made me truly appreciate ‘a hard days work.’

Tikaden Haiti | Clean Water | Water Project
Tikaden, Haiti

From here, we drove back to the coast and made a ‘wet and wild’ 2.5 hour trek across the ocean to our hotel for the night. It turns out that traveling via water was safer than driving due to highjacking that can happen on some of the roads.

Haiti Day Two: The Marathon + Macieux

My 5am cockroach wake up call was just what I needed to get my adrenaline pumping for the day ahead. My poor roommate Kasey from Yellow Co. heard my very girly shrill as two cockroach scurried towards my feet as I took my morning pee.

It’s hard to put this whole day into words as so many things happened and so many emotions swirled throughout this 16 hour day.

Wesly, the Country Director for Healing Waters in Haiti, mapped out the 42 kilometer or 26.2 mile course. We were set to run from the coast to Wesly’s hometown, Macieux, a remote community in the mountains of Southern Haiti.

I now know that Macieux is a fairly isolated community because the only way to get to it via vehicle is driving miles along rocky riverbeds that are difficult for 4×4 trucks. The alternative, by foot. Miles of rolling, rocky terrain.

Haiti | Running for Clean Water
Start of the Marathon

When we started the marathon, Bryce, myself and everyone else running did not know the above information. Again sometimes ignorance is bliss, because I think I would’ve psyched myself out of running this race.

We set out with the intention to finish this race in 5 hours…it took us 8-9 hours.

I specifically remember miles 10/11 through 14. Straight up hill.

Haiti | Running for Clean Water

The rolling terrain, increased elevation, hot and humid weather which turned into sporadic rain, and rivers, all brought challenges I’d never experienced while running before.

Haiti | Marathon | Running for Clean Water

Not to mention, when we got separated from the security trucks at mile 19, came to a fork in the road and had to backtrack.

Running through some of the most remote areas in the world alongside Bryce, other members of our influencer crew, local healing waters staff, and even our security team jumped in for a leg of the race…now that is top 5 most incredible experiences of my life.

So many different people, from so many different background, all running for one thing — clean water and hope for a better future.

Haiti | Marathon | Running for Clean Water

From climbing 4,225 feet, to walking through rivers and sliding down a muddy hill in the rain, to two flat tires, and one lost cell phone, it was worth all 52,000 steps and 8-9 exhausting hours.

We finished the race in Macieux where the most amazing community welcomed us with signs, live music, and an incredible feast.

Macieux Haiti | Run5050

While running 26.2 miles from the coast to Macieux seemed like a foreign concept to the locals; something they’d never seen done before and honestly didn’t think was possible. I can’t believe that the people of Macieux have to walk those same miles if they need medical attention.

Macieux is about to receive the largest Healing Waters project site to date. Knowing that the lives of 1,800 people in the mountains of Southern Haiti is about to be significantly impacted for the better because of fundraising initiatives like these, kind of makes me want to run this race all over again.

Haiti | Running for Clean Water

But I’d take a hard pass on the 4+ hour bumpy card ride back to our hotel post-marathon.

Haiti Day Three: Bainet {The Fit for Her MPLS 2018 Funded Water Project}

When I started Fit for Her MPLS three years ago as a local workout meet up to raise funds for clean water, I never imaged it would lead me to visiting Bainet, Haiti. Where I got to physically see how the $16,000+ we raised in 2018 has forever changed the lives of those in Bainet.

Including these children who’s school is connected to the water project site, giving them access to clean, safe drinking water.

Bainet Haiti | Clean Water Project

Despite the significant population of Bainet, 50,000 people, there’s only one health center where safe water is available in the town {and prohibitively expensive}.

Pastor Negot who manages the Bainet water project, said it was an answer to three years of prayer.

The Bainet project, which also serves 4 local church communities, opened at the end of September 2018, and has already served 4,800 gallons of clean water.

Bainet Haiti | Clean Water

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who’s ever been part of Fit for Her MPLS, making the Bainet project possible!

It was so incredible to see this site in person and interact with the pastor and children who’s lives have been forever changed by the simple presence of clean water.

Bainet Haiti

Then we had lunch in the town of Bainet, speaking of food that’s something I haven’t really mentioned yet. Let’s just say I ate my bodyweight in plantains, I absolutely love plantains, especially authentically made ones. Along with goat stew, fish, and rice.

We had intentions of also visiting a local waterfall on day three, but heavy rain and a tragic motorcycle accident that happened on our path intervened.

So we spent the remainder of the night at the hotel which turned out to be one of my favorite evenings because we really got to connect with the Haiti Healing Waters team — Wesly, Etienne, Gary, and Rafael. Four incredible men who have devoted their lives to serving others and their country through clean water.

These guys work so hard, sometimes leaving their homes at 3am to drive 4-5 hours via rocky roads to reach a community where they will work all day or for weeks to install a clean water project. Talk about long days, and hard work, truly serving others.

Healing Waters Team | Haiti

Day four was basically a travel day back to the city, Port au Prince.

To Sum It Up

In summary, I feel beyond grateful for the opportunity to experience Haiti. It truly was an adventure, and Haiti is one of the most unintentionally beautiful places I’ve ever been.

The city, Port au Prince, is a bit intense, but outside the city the people were so kind. It really is a different world and way of life I can’t imagine living. Yet, the faith these people have, that’s something I want more of.

This trip made me realize how much I have one foot with God and one foot in this world. Whereas, some of the people in Haiti, living in the harshest conditions without access to basic human needs {food, water, shelter}; have two feet in with God. Totally dependent, totally committed.

I’m walking away with a desire to strengthen my faith, and a belief that ‘love thy neighbor was not a suggestion, but a command.’

I also have a whole new respect for missionaries and the healing waters staff.

At the end of the day, this trip was about more than clean water. It’s about meeting basic human needs, and spreading hope for a better future.

Bainet Haiti | Clean Water Project

Healing Waters + Run5050

As I mentioned above, Bryce from Run5050 is doing something incredible and worth sharing. He’s running 50 marathons, in 50 states in one year to raise funds to bring clean water to 50 communities in need.

“After having the opportunity to travel and visit Healing Water’s project sites in Latin America, I had the overwhelming sense that I needed to do more. Running has always been a part of my life and it is a passion and gift that I was given and I wanted to challenge myself and inspire others to be a part of something larger than yourself. Water is a basic human need and I am going to devote the next year of my life to making sure that more people are given access to clean water because they are worth it. The change that clean water is bringing to these people, these communities, and the world is invaluable.” –Bryce Matteson 

Run5050 | Haiti | Running for Clean Water

Bryce has teamed up with Healing Waters International {HWI}. HWI builds holistic clean water solutions and partners with leaders in at-risk communities around the world, empowering people not just to survive, but to thrive – physically, socially, and spiritually.
To date, HWI has distributed over 1.1 billion liters of safe drinking water!
Haiti | Clean Water

That said 1.8 billion people in the world are still drinking dirty water. Lack of safe waters locks individuals and communities into a cycle of poverty by stripping them of their health, dignity, and opportunity. It keeps children out of school, communities sick, and economies stagnant.

So I have to ask, will you join the movement to end the Global Water Crisis?

For every 1,000 of these custom Bonfire sweatshirts, tees, and tanks sold, $15,000 will be raised to bring safe, clean water to an entire community!

Fueled by Water Bonfire Campaign

Bonfire: Design, Sell + Order Premium Custom Shirts

This trip would not have been made possible without our partner, Bonfire.

Bonfire is an awesome way to fundraise with custom apparel. If you’re looking for a creative and easy way to fundraise for your next Mission Trip, Adoption, Church Event, School Event, or just want to create fun shirts for your friends, they’re a great site to use.
You design your shirt and set up a campaign, then share the link to your community. They check out, and once the campaign ends, You get the profits and Bonfire prints and ships the shirts straight to your buyers.
Bonfire: Design, Sell + Order Premium Custom Shirts
You can use Bonfire for anything really, whether you need to buy shirts in bulk, or want to sell to others! Most common uses include:
  • Adoption
  • Mission Trip
  • Animal Rescue
  • Small Business
  • Restaurant
  • Company logo tees
  • Family Reunion tees
  • School Fundraisers and School Spirit Wear
  • Non-profit organization fundraiser

To learn more about Bonfire, and how you can set up a custom apparel campaign today, click here!

Fit For Her MPLS: Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

If you’re local to Minnesota be sure to save Saturday, March 2nd, 2019 on your calendar.

I’m teaming up with Stacie from The Real Food RD’s to host the Fourth Annual Fit for Her MPLS event — a fitness fundraising event with all proceeds benefiting The Her Initiative {and extension of Healing Waters International which focuses specifically on women and children}.

We have a goal of doubling our 2018 proceeds; raising $30,000 to fully fund not one, but two clean water project sites. And we’d love for you to be part of it!

PS – If you made it to the bottom of this post, you’re incredible! Thanks for learning more about my Haiti experience and the global water crisis.

2 comments
    • Thanks Caitiln! It’s top 5 most amazing accomplishments+ experiences to date. Thanks so much for checking out this lengthy post and following along! -Lindsey