Find 52: Grenada: 2015
Canadian Running Magazine
By Scott Leitch March 6, 2015
Richard Clewes wasn’t an ultramarathoner before he decided to run around Grenada, an 84K loop, but one month ago he became the first to circle the small island nation on foot, finishing the loop in 11:45.
The time isn’t particularly quick, but that wasn’t Clewes goal, having stopped many times along the route to talk with locals.
The 61-year-old Caledon, Ont., man and his wife founded Rainforest of Reading in 2011, a charity which raises money to buy books for libraries in Caribbean countries. His run around Grenada was to raise money for the charity.
“It came out of the fact that, like a lot of Canadians, I like getting out of the cold in the winter time and stay in a hotel or rent a house in these places,” said Clewes about starting the program. “My wife is a special education teacher and one day we casually walked into the primary school in Soufriere, St. Lucia, and got sense for what education was like for these kids there and quite quickly figured that out.”
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Clewes, who is a graphic designer, and his wife wanted to help provide books and access to reading materials for the children in Montserrat, Saint Lucia and Grenada with the hope of expanding to more Caribbean countries in the near future.
“The first thing you realize is that there are no libraries. Any library that survived over the past several decades is exceptional. Typically what happens is natural disasters like hurricanes wipe out public buildings and as a response, preserving the very little cash these local governments have, they shutter the library and move on.”
The budget for the charity is about $100,000 each year and no one draws a salary from that. All the money goes towards providing reading material for school kids in the countries Rainforest of Reading serves.
So far, Clewes has raised $32,000, but he has goals set high. He hopes to raise $520,000 by next January, when he will attempt to double up on the distance by running around St. Lucia. The $520,000 would cover the charity’s programs for five years.
For now, he’s focusing on getting the word out about next winter’s run around St. Lucia, double the distance of his loop around Grenada.
Article originally appeared at Canadian Running Magazine© 2016 Gripped Publishing Inc.