The week after the brigade was quite busy, as NDI was getting ready to help out with the children’s race that is tied to the Fuego y Agua Ultramarathon. Each of the runners that would be coming for the ultramarathon were to bring an extra pair of shoes to be donated to a child running in the 5 km race the following Sunday. My co-worker Angela was the main NDI contact to organize for the race and to prepare the shoes, shirts and medals for each group of children that would be coming. Not only was NDI working on the children’s race (the calzada) but also Tabby was a Medical Director for the Ultramarathon and most of the NDI team were volunteering in some capacity that day in case of any medical emergencies, or just falls and scratches.
The Ultramarathon was set as a series of 3 races: a 25 km loop that ran up 1000 m of Concepcion, a 50 km race that ran from Moyogalpa to Volcan Maderas and up it, and then the 100 km race that combined the two shorter distances so the runners would have be running up both volcanoes. Since August I have been running on a semi regular basis when I have had people to run with, with the idea in the back of my mind of trying my hand at the 25 km race. After my return in January I started running between 3 and 5 times a week with two friends of mine, both local guides, who were also thinking of doing one of the races. I had been keeping a little quiet about the idea of running in case it turned out I couldn’t complete the training or the race. When the time actually came to sign up I just couldn’t pass up the chance to run it, who knows I may never be by this way again. So I signed up for the shortest distance I could, and then set off to convince my friend Arcelia to do the same.
I am more of a social runner than a competitive runner, but because of my background I do know how to train properly. Unfortunately due to circumstances and work schedules we did not do the full training. The longest distance we likely ran before race day was 12 km, and once I looked at the actual route the distance creeped up to something closer to 30 km. Needless to say the couple days leading up to the race I was a little nervous, knowing what might happen if I were to have trouble with my asthma or a fall while running with the medical resources on the island. Race morning arrived and I had extra water for the both of us because it was going to be a hot one with the 25 km race starting at 7 am with the sun already out. Tabby, Trish, the kids, the three interns that were working with NDI at the time, Gary and Laura all came out to see us off. The route was more akin to trail running than actual road and within the first 5 km we had been passed by the same bus 3 times kicking up smoke and dirt and chased by 6 dogs. I was most nervous about the volcano part as the last time I hiked Concepcion, I clearly remember it kicking my butt. It turns out the hardest part was getting from the main road at a town called La Flor to the base of the volcano as it was nothing but large, loose volcano rocks mixed with sand and then the odd cow and toros roaming through. Going up the volcano there was a lot of walking and dodging those with speed making their way down. The view at the aid station was incredible, as was the fact that we had ran so far and then up the volcano. By the time we decided to make our way back down Arcelia was in top form and ready to rock down and I did my best to keep up. There was quite a bit of walking once we got back to the main road because of rolled ankles and the sun beating down on us. We finished together, happy and a bit sun baked in about 4 hours and 17 minutes. Then it was time to relax a bit, find some food, have a shower and then head back to the main office to see if I could help out with anything. Fortunately there were no major injuries, mainly just scrapes, bruises and rolled ankles.
The next morning was a busy one getting all the volunteers on the Moyogalpa side ready to have anywhere between 300-500 children running from Esquipulas to the cancha here in town. There were lots of people to organize and we all did our best to keep things calm while getting each town together so they could receive their shirts, medals and then come over to get their juice and sandwich. Handing out food at any event with numerous people here is always a bit of a gong show, but things went really well and the kids ran faster than most expected. The weekend ended with a dinner at Charco Verde with all the runners still in town and then a good nights sleep before giving my legs another workout to ride into Los Angeles Monday morning for work.