St Helena Online

Tag: Nigel Haywood

Saint is responsible for lunacy on the Falklands

No one can say that John Clifford is mad. When the certificates of lunacy are being handed out at Surf Bay in the Falklands on Saturday 23 June, John will not be receiving one.

As a St Helenian, he likes his sea warm. He knows that no one in their right mind would jump into the freezing waters of the Falklands in June, but as organiser of the annual Midwinter Swim he is happy to encourage people to do so.

And they do, in large numbers. “It does attract a fair attendance, both military and civilian,” says John. “Last year about 150 people took part, with probably twice that looking on.

“The description ‘swim’ is probably inaccurate: it is better described as a dip. No distance is required, just wet head to toe. More than that frankly would be dangerous: the water is about 4-5 Celsius, and just off the beach is a thick kelp bank.

“Last year one or two did go surfing for a short while.

“We do get a few fancy dressers and some other types of ‘dressers’, and usually a few mankinis.

“Afterwards we have some fire pots on the beach, and we sell soups and teas, but the crowd thins fairly quickly.” Funny, that.

John, who’s lived in the Falklands since the 1990s with wife Cherie, has organised the past two Midwinter Swims, having played a small part before that. The proceeds go to the sea cadets and the Seaman’s Mission.

“I have never done the swim,” he admits. “I feel that as principal organiser, I am punished enough already.  I think all of my kids have, though.”

All “swimmers” will receive certificates of lunacy, “signed” by governor Nigel Haywood.

Despite His Excellency braving horizontal rain to complete the Falklands Marathon in under four hours, he is thought unlikely to be seen plunging into the sea in midwinter (and certainly not in a mankini).

“I am grateful for the governor’s permission to append his (facsimile) signature on the certificates of lunacy,” says John, diplomatically. “I’m not going to scare him off with suggestions he should do it!”

  • The Outdoor Swimming Society gives this advice on jumping into very cold water: “Exhale as you jump in. In cold water the ribcage contracts, which leads many swimmers to feeling they can’t breathe. Shrieking, grunting and fwaw-fwaw-fwawing for your first strokes are perfectly natural accompaniments to a wild swim.”

Governor crosses line in Falklands Marathon – your turn, Mr Capes?
St Helena’s just not horrible enough for marathon runners

All set for Midwinter Swim 2012 – Juanita Brock
Midwinter Swim – pictures

Governor crosses line in Falklands marathon: your turn, Mr Capes?

Poster for the Standard Chartered Stanley Marathon, showing a female runner with sea and distant hills beyond
Stanley Marathon is officially the world's most southerly 26-miler

Falklands Radio reports that the Falkland Islands’ governor, Nigel Haywood, has crossed the finishing line in the the world’s most southerly marathon “with the governor’s flag in his hand”.

Which begs the question: will his counterpart on St Helena, Mark Capes, be tackling the world’s most remote marathon in June 2012?

Or maybe he’ll pass the flag to the island’s financial secretary, Paul Blessington, who has a history of running home after work on a Tuesday – six miles, 2,000 feet of ascent, partly off-road, in under an hour.

There is some pressure on His Excellency here: his predecessor, Governor Gurr, was known to go running, and also completed 100 ascents of Jacob’s Ladder, the brutal flight of 699 steps rising up from Jamestown.

A picture on the news website on the Falklands shows a sizeable field setting off for this year’s event – including relay teams.

So how do the Falklands manage to attract so many runners, when the result of the last St Helena marathon was a foregone conclusion, just so long as the only entrant managed to finish? (She did).

The first male and female finishers in the Stanley Marathon (Robert Harden and Argentinian Claudia Camargo) each won £1,100. The first relay team shared £900.

That might have something to do with it.

Sergeant Harden, a gym instructor based on the islands at Hillside, had already won the Cape Pembroke half-marathon, running in aid of the Royal British Legion.

He’d set himself a challenge of completing both events in a combined time of 4 hours and 45 minutes – meaning he had to finish the full 26-miler in 3 hours 28 minutes. For every minute he went over that time, he’d promised to donate an extra pound to the legion.

Frank Jaffray was the only Falklands-born runner to go the full distance.

The official times haven’t yet been published (as at 1800hrs UK time on 19 March 2012).

Congratulations to all the runners. And good luck to Governor Capes…


BFBS Radio interview with Sergeant Harden


Standard Chartered Stanley Marathon
St Helena Festival of Running 2012

Note, this post has been being written by someone who managed a time of 5 mins and 45 seconds when a race up the Jacob’s Ladder was staged to mark the first Governor’s Cup yacht race, and who was recently irked to discover that because the St Helena media didn’t work over the Christmas holidays back then, the result went unrecorded. The winner, from New Caledonia, was 12 seconds faster, which would put him high up the current top ten – but the records make no mention of it. Unless anyone kept a copy?