Most athletes know that the reason a marathon is called a "marathon" is because the Greek messenger Pheidippides, ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, a distance of 42.2 kilometers (26.4 miles). In a similar spirit, Sunday there was a race in Cali, organized by one of the local universities, Universidad ICESI, to raise awareness of water care and usage. The race, called Nuestra Carrera Es Por El Agua (Our Race Is For The Water), was 6 kilometers in length, which is, evidently, the average distance most people in impoverished areas of the world must go to get clean and safe drinking water. There were similar races run in a multitude of countries around the world on this day in a show of unity.
The fact that we are in the midst of one of two rainy seasons here didn't seem to poke its ironic head out on race morning and we were greeted with pleasant sunny weather. The course was through the picturesque Ecoparque Rio Pance (a nature reserve along the Pance River just outside the city) and more resembled a trail-run than anything else. The beginning was rough with all the runners trying to squeeze onto the narrow and muddy tree-lined path, but once everyone found their pace, things spread out. As the course wound its way though the trees and along the river, up and down hills, I just tried to not trip on a root or slip on one of the wet foot-sized leaves carpeting the way; for me, not biffing it and face-planting in the mud was going to be the victory!
I finished in around 22 minutes and 40 seconds and was informed soon after crossing the finish line that I was "el primer niño" to arrive. I told the man who celebrated this fact with me that I was 28, and therefore not a "niño," to which he tried to recover by telling me I was "the second non-Colombian" to finish. This only only made me think, "Wait! Who was the first?!?!"
I ran the race with my usual race partner and colleague, Adriana, as well as a few other teachers who were up for a good cause and a shorter distance. Four students also took part; hopefully Adriana and I can recruit them to do more races with us and increase the youth interest in a near-non-existent sport here in Colombia.