Hello everyone !
Today, I wanted to tell you a little more about my story so that you can get to know the man who had the crazy idea to run 137 marathons in 5 months across the United States!
So let’s go! My name is André Belibi Eloumou, I’m 33 years old and I earn my living as a fitness coach in the North of France.
I am the youngest of four children. My mother is from Nantes, France, and my father was originally from Cameroon. He arrived in Paris, France, in February 1974 and he is my inspiration. I am deeply appreciative of his life and accomplishments. So fittingly I wanted to pay tribute to him through my race AndréRunUSA.
In 1971, he left the city of Douala, Cameroon, at 24 years of age to realize his dream of a better life. He started off walking over 4’000 km to reach Mauritania. During his trip, he ate raw sheep, and walked through lion territory in Africa. After arriving in Mauritania, and seeing a boat moored in the distance; he swam for more than 6 hours to reach the boat, before being thrown overboard and having to swim back in the darkness of the night. After this first unsuccessful attempt and a few more weeks of waiting, he was finally able to board a boat in a Mauritanian trading port, hiding in a lifeboat until he got off in The Netherlands. Ten days after his arrival in Rotterdam he resumed his journey towards France, where he end up settling.
A year ago, in March 2018, I ran my first big race of 3’000 km in his memory, called “La Migrante” (The Migrant), from the North of France where I live to Rabat in Morocco. I will fill you in on this first great adventure in more detail in the next article! What I will say is this experience allowed me to better understand what my father went through, and more broadly realize what all people who have to leave their home to escape poverty still experience today.
My journey reminded me of what my parents taught me; “in life you have to work hard to achieve your goals.” From the age 13 to 16, they sent me to Cameroon. My father wanted me to connect with my African roots, and culture.
At 16, I was lucky enough to go on vacation in Salt Lake City, USA. I fell in love with this country and learned English. I would have stayed longer but my visa was expiring, and I had to return to France.
At the end of my schooling, I continued my studies in Calgary, Canada, perfected my English and took advantage of the proximity with the United States to return there several times.
My father died in 2006 and it was very hard for me. For several years, I worked odd jobs until friends advised me to become a fitness coach. It was there that I found my passion! My job allowed me to travel, and I worked all around the world, notably in Switzerland, Canada, on cruise ships and in Kuwait where I prepared one of my clients to became a world champion jet skier! I’ll tell you more about that one of these days.
Following these experiences, I wanted to share my passion for fitness even more to benefit a greater number of people. So I came back to France and I created a fitness association with my friends called “ATC Workout” to encourage people to play sports and spread the positive values of fitness.
It was at this time, in 2017 that the idea came to me to pay tribute to my father by organizing my first big race “La Migrante”.
I will fill you in about this first race in a future article.
See you soon, love