Running in the US Virgin Islands

One of the reasons that I am so excited about the property we chose on St. Croix is that it is in a gated community, and I will be able to safely run through the community (I hope!) On my last trip to St. Croix, I ran a short distance on the North Shore road just outside Carambola resort, and it was interesting to say the least. First of all, I was running on the opposite side of the road compared to what I am used to at home. I always run facing traffic, but that meant that I was running on the inside of some blind turns. It was a little nerve-racking. There are also hills all over St. Croix. We have what might be considered “incline changes” in Dallas, but nothing like the mountains that I experienced on this brief run on the island.

I started a marathon training class in Dallas today. It was a really great experience (despite the thunderstorm), but as I was leaving, I realized that there won’t be classes like this once we move to St. Croix. It’s a great program that is really well thought out, and involves several hundred people. In contrast, St. Croix’s running program is in its infancy from what I have read.

I hope that running is a hobby that I will be able to continue once we make the move to the island. I’ve already started doing some research on the Internet. One race that I found is called “8 Tuff Miles“. This race runs from west to east across St. John. I saw fliers for the race when we were on St. John last year. I’m sure the race must be beautiful as St. John was one of the most beautiful islands I’ve visited, but it has got some crazy hills! The race climbs from sea level to 999 feet at the midpoint and back down to sea level. Even if you’re not a runner, you’ve probably heard about Heartbreak Hill in the Boston Marathon. I’ve never been to Boston (I’ve only done one marathon so far), but I’ve heard that it’s not the uphill that kills you, but the downhill that tears your legs to shreds. I’m sure I would have to do some serious training to run 8 Tuff Miles, but I am definitely intrigued, and as close as I will be to St. John, I am going to make running 8 Tuff Miles a goal of mine.

Another race that I will have to run after making the move is the St. Croix Marathon. It is supposed to be relatively flat ( ) and almost the entire marathon is along the water. Scenery is very important when running 26.2 miles – it’s good to have plenty of distractions. A big difference in this race compared to the last marathon I ran is the number of participants. The St. Croix Marathon is limited to 50 participants whereas the Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego had over 20,000! Next year will only be the 6th year for the St. Croix Marathon so I am hoping that’s a sign that the island is generating more interest in running so that by the time that I am there, it will have some great events. In the meantime, I’ll have to find some hills in Dallas to get ready for the island.

Alexandra Bentley – St. Croix Realtor

Hey, my first post. I usually let my wife write these entries, but I wanted to take a moment to recognize and recommend an excellent Realtor in St. Croix, Alexandra Bentley. I figured she deserved her own post. My wife mentioned throughout this blog’s short life we started looking online at properties in February 2006 after a trip to St. Croix and the rest of the Virgin Islands. We stumbled upon “the board” shortly after and found Alexandra replying to posts with super detailed information without every trying to blatantly sell her Realtor service. So we began emailing her for information regarding certain real estate we had found online, and of course she provided detailed information along with her opinions of the property (ie “those lots are quite steep and would be a challenge to build on”). We then scheduled a trip for July of last year to look at vacant lots (both waterfront and non-waterfront lots) and were pleased with what we found but frustrated with the prices. At the time they seemed pretty high especially because we were carrying two mortgages. Alexandra spent an entire day driving us around all parts of the island.

Things didn’t work out last summer (read previous posts) but in January we started seeing some listings show up that were “interesting”. Alexandra would email us the listing the day they came on the market. The first one was a “too good to be true” lot in which I purchased a plane ticket to fly down and see, however, the next day the lot already had a contract on it. Trip canceled.

The next week while we were in Belize for vacation we got a call from Alexandra telling us about a large waterfront property with some issues. The struggles we went through to get contract offers signed and faxed would have made for some good “third-world technology” jokes. I am sure Alexandra was as frustrated as we were when 5 offers came in on the first day. We raised our offer price to 25% above listing. They didn’t accept our offer. In the end this was probably for the best.

At the end of February Alexandra emailed a listing to us. We had an offer in by noon on the first day of the listing at slightly under listing price. The listing price was high but after missing out on several properties (including one that we really wanted last summer) we were at the point of “just pay it”. Anyway, after a trip down to St. Croix and meeting with Alexandra and the listing agent, I flew home happy with the lot. The appraiser was not as happy with the lot and appraised it for 5% less than our contract price. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, however, we were approaching the final day of our mortgage contingency period and needed to figure out a way to come up with the additional 5% down payment because the bank would not finance the full amount, only the appraised amount. At this point our lake house hadn’t sold. Alexandra went out of her way to make things work out with the listing agent and seller, but in the end the seller wouldn’t budge even 1%.

We found out Saturday that the sellers wouldn’t help out and had until Tuesday to cancel the offer or risk our earnest money. Monday morning is where Alexandra truly shined. She knew we were stretching our budget and when a different property seven lots away and almost 15% cheaper came on the market Monday morning she did not hesitate to send the listing our way even though she knew her commission would be reduced and it would take much longer for her to get paid. By noon we had rescinded our previous offer (if the seller only knew all he had to do was come down 1% to make it work) and had an offer accepted on the other lot. Thank you Alexandra Bentley.

Alexandra was great throughout the whole process and I cannot recommend her enough. She was available at all hours of the day answering our calls and our emails. Hopefully it was worth it for her.

Dealing with Scotiabank who changed the terms on us at the last minute (a 15 year loan to a 5 year loan) is a story for another day.

Thank you Alexandra.