Running in New Caledonia

It has been a while since I’ve visited a completely new country so I was very interested to have to attend meetings in Noumea, New Caledonia. For those who are geographically challenged, it is a French Department (actually colony) about 2 h flight east of Australia. In the 1980’s it was in the news when there was an independence movement from the local Kanak people, but things appear to have settled down now, or at least you no longer hear about it.

It was very different than I expected. On many levels it looked like one of the Pacific Island countries that I have been working in, but on the other hand it was far more prosperous, clean and modern than any of the other countries. This place must cost the French a bomb to run.

I was staying at the Le Meridian Hotel and managed to squeeze in two 10 km runs. In keeping with most of my island runs, you have the option of running left or right. So first day I went left, second day right.

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It was great to run next to ocean with a balmy breeze. It was warm at 07:30 and would have been pretty hard going in the afternoon. I was struck by the number of people out exercising—none of whom looked to be Kanaks.

There were other runners, walkers, cyclists and swimmers in the ocean. The latter were particularly interesting as many were on the wrong side of 75 years old, but had excellent physiques for their ages. In fact the absence of overweight people really stood out in Noumea. Cycling seems to be a passion here and I saw quite a few riders—on some very seriously expensive bikes.  Unfortunately the natives were not friendly, and only one returned my greeting. C’est dommage.

My run to the left took me through town; to the right along undeveloped ocean front. The latter was particularly interesting because there were several monuments to the arrival of the French in New Caledonia. I wonder if they thought they would still be in control 160 years later.

I’ve not been running much of late, been focusing on my riding, and so I found it relatively hard going. I’m a long way from a few years ago when I did a 10 km race in 42 minutes. Going to work on my running a bit over the next weeks and see if I can get my times down.

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