Running Funafuti Airport

I arrived back in Funafuti Tuvalu on the Thursday flight for a short mission trip of five days on my aviation project. With the island about 11 km long, I haven’t got my head around having a bicycle here yet, although I guess I could use the Tarawa approach of a stationary trainer with some good DVDs. Consequently, I only run while here. With the highest point in the country about 1 m above sea level it is not good for hill work, but it does have the perfect track: Funafuti International Airport.

As shown below, the airport runway is located right next to the main part of Funafuti and is graced with good ocean breezes. Not that there are many sheltered places on an island that is less than 700 metres wide at its widest point (and less than 10 metres elsewhere). But what about aircraft? With only two flights a week not much risk there. In fact, people regularly sleep on the runway due to the nice ocean breezes.


I had a 2 h run in my training program for today, with some 1.5 km intervals at 4:00/km. I decided that I’d do the run on the runway since not only does it make it easy to do the 1.5 km (the runway is 1540 metres long), but it also avoids dogs who are very aggressive when surprised in the pre-dawn hours by a palangi (white) runner.

So it was out the door at 05:30 from THE hotel (there is only one in the country), jog 200 metres and I’m on the runway.  It was about 30 C and very humid, but at least there was the ocean breeze. There were already some people walking/running on the runway, but by 7:00 they had all gone and it was just me running up and down, up and down …  At least one doesn’t need to worry about the running surface when on a runway. But after 23 km (15+ lengths) it does get tedious and I was seriously hot and dehydrated.  By the end of the training I couldn’t hold my target pace. Not surprising after 2 h with no hydration.

Better than a treadmill—I still shudder when recalling my 3 h training session on a treadmill at Hong Kong airport (I was training for Boston Marathon and my long run coincided with transiting through Hong Kong). I’ll try a run tomorrow to the north end of the island after sunrise and hopefully the dogs will be nice to me. Otherwise, back to the runway for more tedium … I’ll be well baked by the end of my time here, but hopefully with some improved running fitness, and ability to deal with heat!

2 responses to “Running Funafuti Airport

  1. Lindi Jskavula

    Well do Chris and best wishes. I wish I could have such a positive report with only 8 weeks before Comrades.

    Best wishes

    • Lindi, 23 km on a flat runway doesn’t compare with 90 km of Natal’s hills! I’ve also got 8 weeks to go until Ironman Brazil and I’m not quite where I want to be, but on my way. Of course are we ever where we want to be? Keep on training and all the best for the race!

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