Andy conquers Upolu test run

By Aruna Lolani and Misiona Simo ,

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IT’S ALL ABOUT TEAM WORK: Anneliese Harris, Steve Mowle and Andy Harris.

IT’S ALL ABOUT TEAM WORK: Anneliese Harris, Steve Mowle and Andy Harris. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

Andy Harris believed he could it and so he did. 

The man from the United Kingdom took five days to run around Upolu and having conquered the challenge, he’s happy to have ticked the box.

Speaking to the Weekend Observer, Andy says he’s always been someone who’s interested in sports and that’s why he loves running.

Andy is no stranger to Samoa. This is his second year working in Samoa as part of the Australian Survivor crew.

“The beauty of both the country and people never ceases to amaze me,” he said. “Work can be demanding and consume a lot of my time but I try and take a few moments to reflect, especially on days off about how lucky I am to be living on this island.”

So how did the idea of running around Upolu came about?

“The idea of running around the island of Upolu came into my head one day whilst visiting the island of Manono. Manono is an island with no vehicles and the only mode of transport is your own feet. 

“It’s amazing how much more of a place you can take in and really see when there are no windows and doors surrounding you. The problem is – I’m not the most patient of people!

So, with a week of my work schedule freed up at the end of the trip, I decided I would make the best use of this time to set myself a challenge, lose the sympathy pregnancy belly that I seem to have grown from living on hotel food and see a little more of the island.”

This week, he started the journey on his first day from Mulifanua. The next day he ran from Salamumu all the way to Saleilua. The third day was from Saleilua to Lalomanu, Lalomanu to Falefa and from Falefa to Apia.

It aimed to run between 30 and 35km a day. The last leg was from Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s on Beach Road to the one at Mulifanua which completed the journey.

 “Running is good for your health. I think it’s something which rejuvenates you and the fitter you are, the more you can do in life. In school, I used to enjoy all sports and running was one of them,” he said.

“I joined the the U.K., the Royal Marines Commandos and I spent about six years in the Royal Marines and then after about six years, I went and did another nine months course and that was a really endurance course.

“For those nine months, I went and lived in the mountains out in Scotland and also Northern Norway; I’ve lived on the mountains out there, very cold temperatures. 

“So it was all endurance based and that’s where I really gained my love for endurance and running in sports.”

Asked how he motivates himself to do it every single day, Andy said: “Because I said I was going to do it. My experience in five days, I’ve loved it. It’s been hard; it’s been really hard work doing roughly 30 kilometers a day. 

“Yesterday was 34kilometers, today 28 kilometers so roughly around 30 kilometers a day.

“I’ve been here on the 10th of March this year, so I’ve been here for four and a half months but I’ve been working up until Saturday and we’ve been driven all over this island with the crew of Survivor, looking at different places. 

“It’s funny, you drive all over the island in a car; whilst you drive past in a car, there’s still a barrier between you and the actual Samoa whereas when you run, there isn’t a barrier. 

“It’s just you and you literally brush passed people as you go past them and everyone says hello; you see how humbly and friendly people are over here. 

“For the people to stop and say hello in the U.K., that’s not usual whereas here, everybody, every single person stops and says ‘hello palagi’ and have all sort of shouted out nice things at me from the villages.

“Some people come along and run for a little while and then stop; it’s great, it changes you in the sense of community that you have here whereas we don’t have that sense of community back in the U.K.” 

According to Andy, besides the dogs and the heat in Samoa, he doesn’t really think of running around the island as a challenging thing to do. 

“I’m from the U.K. so I’m not used to the heat so the heat is a big thing for me here and today has been the best day for dogs.  

“Yesterday was horrendous and every other day has been pretty bad because normally I’ve been starting very early in the morning so when you run through the village, the dogs just had a go at you and of course everyone wakes up. 

“A lot of the dogs just keep staying on the boundaries but some of them come out past and they’ll have a go and so we use the car to stop the dogs and as the last resort, I carried rocks. 

“Yesterday was the first time I had to throw a rock because the dog just would not stop and it kept on coming up and trying to bite and then eventually I’ve thrown the rock and off it goes.

“So the dogs and the heat are probably the most challenging side of it.

“I can’t really think of any. It’s just a mental challenge; the challenge which you create yourself and you overcome yourself. 

“When you’re getting to 25 or 26 kilometers and your legs are tired, I just got to block that out and say that I’ve still got to push on, that’s probably the only challenge for me.

“It’s making sure that your head doesn’t stop your legs because if you’re not injured, if you got enough fuel and you got enough water then there’s no reason why you can’t carry on running, it’s the mindset that makes you carry on running. If you stop to get all emotional all about it and everything else, then your legs stop.”

Andy hopes to run in Savaii if he gets to visit Samoa again. 

“If we come back to work next year then I would have a look at doing Savaii but I’m 41 years old now so my body is getting more and more tired. 

“So if my body is in good order and I will have the time and we come back next year, I would love to do Savaii.” 

Andy said he could not have done it without the help of his team; his wife Anneliese and his paramedic friend Steve Mowle. 

“As you can see, Anneliese is seven months pregnant so she’s now going through the uncomfortable stage of the pregnancy and she’s sitting in the car, 3 or 4 hours every single day and also putting up with me when I do things like this from the past.

“I know that in my mindset, I’ve become just a person who concentrates on me and I don’t really think much else so I can be a little bit hard to live with when I’m doing this because I have to concentrate on what I’m doing.

“I’m not the type of person that can concentrate on two things at once; I can only concentrate on what I’m doing and that’s the run. 

“So really for the five days, she’s just heard the run from me and that’s it; whereas she’s someone who’s pregnant. It should be me who’s sort of doting towards her and making sure she’s okay.”

He added: “Steve is one of the paramedics in the team of Survivor and he’s provided the driving and if we needed any sort of medical knowledge then he would provide that.

“I’ve been accommodated here, which is all part of work. 

“So I’ve got a full support team and I’m quite lucky. The support side of it has been a huge thing really.”

His wife Anneliese who is also the one behind his blog said “I am really proud of him. “I think he’s crazy but I think it’s also a great way to see the island because we’ve been here for so long. 

“For me I love sitting in the car and just seeing all the villages, saying hello to people, taking photos and it’s great. I don’t know why he decided to do this, he’s mad but it’s been fun.”

You can follow Andy’s journey on www.surviveendureexplore.com

© Samoa Observer 2016

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