Find 52: St. Lucia: 2016
Canadian Running Magazine
By Sinead Mulhern January 18, 2016
Last year he took on an 84-kilometre loop around Grenada and this year, Richard Clewes is upping the mileage for another Caribbean adventure, one that started on Jan. 15. This runner who resides in Guelph, Ont. has conducted a four-day run around the island of St. Lucia with each run equaling marathon distance.
The cause: to improve the literacy levels of children in St. Lucia. To do that, Clewes and his wife, Sonya White, created their own organization called Rainforest of Reading and the proceeds he raises from the St. Lucia run will go to that foundation.
The purpose is to put people in the shoes of St. Lucian kids for whom literacy is extraordinarily hard to obtain because there are so few community libraries and so few schools have libraries.
Rainforest of Reading was started four years ago. How does it work? The couple raises funds to bring books by Canadian authors and illustrators into schools in St. Lucia, Grenada, Nevis and Montserrat.
Every single dollar raised by his run is going towards the cause, he says. With last year’s run around Grenada, he was able to raise $40,000.
The location isn’t the only thing that differs this year. For one, the distance is longer and two, he has had the company of Olympic athletes for the entire duration. One of them is Canadian snowboarder Jake Holden who Clewes met through Holden’s mother– a friend and mentor of his. (The other athletes are St. Lucian athletes, Zepherinus Joseph and sprinter Vernetta Lesforis.)
Last February, Clewes says he mentioned the run to Holden. His response was “God I’d love to go for a run with you.” That’s how the two decided that they would run together in St. Lucia. Clewes adds that after they made that decision, they committed to training together doing all of their long runs together on the roads of Guelph, Ont. or the trails in Caledon, Ont.
While Clewes’ wife, Sonya, has travelled with him to the region before, she was unable to attend the St. Lucia runs. Prior to the run last week, he said he’d be keeping her updated through social posts.
“I’m uploading every mile on Instagram so my wife won’t worry about me,” he said.
Article originally appeared in Canadian Running Magazine ©2016 Gripped Publishing Inc.