What does a runner eat before he runs a half-marathon? Well, if you're Charles Spooner, you may have a tablespoon of honey, or a teaspoon of salt water.
And the day before, he fasts. The day before that, though, the 88-year-old has a halva—a paste made from sesame seeds, raw honey, bee pollen and a little lecithin (made from soya bean).
"And I'm going to liquefy it, then put it into carrot juice. Two glasses of that and that has sufficient energy to carry me on for 72 hours."
You see, Mr Spooner is a naturalist. He eats only raw food. This year he is taking part in his sixth UWI SPEC half-marathon, and the winner of the over-80 category for the last few years has no ailments; in fact, he says, "I getting better, not worse."
Running 13.1 miles on a teaspoon of honey is something only Mr Spooner, a veteran of 11 CLICO marathons, could do. He spent last Saturday, his church day, praying and fasting.
"It's a mind thing," he explains. "You have to boost your mind. The mind has to be pulling the body. Regardless what's happening on the road, I'm not stopping."
As long as you've been nourishing your body all the time, the cells are nourished, Mr Spooner explains. Once the cells are nourished, they can live on for three or four days without needing food because they have a lot of nourishment. The liver also has a lot of energy stored in it.
"The food that most people eat has no nutrients because cooking kills most of the vitamins and minerals," says Mr Spooner. "Over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, all life in vegetables and natural sources of food are destroyed. It might be tasty and nice, but then it don't have the life."
This year, the octogenarian spent 10 days in Barbados preparing for the half-marathon. In early September he took off for Barbados on his own, where he had the time to focus on his diet and training. When he arrived he had a pain in his waist. The second day he was there, he started to work on it. He used 7,000mg of Vitamin C in orange juice for four days and did exercises like sit-ups and touching his toes, which helped the muscles in the waist and the lower back. In two days the pain was gone.
"I came right back to normal," he says with a smile. "I was feeling like a newborn."
Mr Spooner wasn't always a rawterian, as they are now called. He used to eat regular cooked food until he was in his 50s. But he began to experience the first symptoms of arthritis. He couldn't get out of a car without using his hands to lift his legs. In 1981, on a trip to Barbados (he used to export citrus to the island), he wasn't feeling well. By praying, using "certain medicines, like lime" and going to the beach, he recovered in four days.
"When I came back, in my mind, I heard this voice, it was the spirit, telling me, 'You've got to go raw.'"
Using raw cod liver oil, he was able to clean his joints and his bloodstream.
"The joints come good!" he recalls.
Soon, Spooner bought a small juicer and started a juice shop on Frederick Street. The ordinary people didn't care much for his juices, like lettuce, celery and carrot. Then he started helping people with weight loss. He started to study the work of Dr Norman Walker, who was 95 at the time. The British businessman, who died in 1985 at the age of 99, is known as a pioneer in the field of vegetable juicing. He advocated the drinking of fresh raw vegetable juices to stay healthy. Based on his design, the Norwalk Hydraulic Press Juicer was developed and is still manufactured today.
"Then my energy level started to rise," Mr Spooner says.
So, he started to run around the Queen's Park Savannah. He was about 67, 68. A friend was so amazed by his effortless laps around the Savannah that he encouraged Spooner to run a marathon.
"Not yet," he replied. "I'll enter a marathon at 75."
Being a devout Christian, he decided that since God had called Abraham to do his bidding, he would wait until he too clocked the 75 mark. From 1999 to 2009, Spooner competed in and completed every CLICO marathon—11 in all.
Then in 2006, another friend told him about the UWI SPEC Half-marathon.
"Charlie, you ent hear UWI having a marathon? Why you don't enter?"
Spooner went to Barbados and returned two weeks before the race. He did 15 laps of the Savannah over four mornings.
"I say, right. I ready."
And he was, because he not only completed the course, but placed second in his category. Since 2009, he has won the over-80 male category—mainly because there is no one else running in it.
Spooner no longer takes part in marathons; UWI SPEC is the only race he runs now. And he does it because "I would like to encourage other people. They must say in their mind, 'Well, if Charlie could do it, I could do it too.'"