Just days after Christmas, I spontaneously made the decision to check one of the “big ticket” items off my bucket list - running a full marathon. But despite already feeling energized and motivated, I looked at my Lima 42km confirmation email and thought, “This is going to take a lot more than just my own grit to cross that finish line.” It didn’t take long for the answer to strike me: my daily inspiration is my work and maybe I could use running to inspire others to help weavers in the high Andean communities!
Weeks later, bumping along the winding, gravel-stridden dirt road to Chaullacocha and Rumira Sondormayo, an idea came to me that I hadn’t really taken into consideration when signing myself up: how would the idea of running 42 km - not to mention that friends, family and followers would give me MONEY (and quite a bit of it) - to run that distance, translate to Quechua? I realized that the overwhelming inspiration that shocked my legs into motion over the winter, namely the kind and talented weavers of the high Andes, may not understand this personal goal that I had committed myself to on their behalf.
Now, looking back on 5 months of training, 4 of those spent winding through colonial streets, mountain trails and along rivers, I should have had more faith. It was not the challenge of cross-cultural communication that I encountered during that weekend of community visits but the simplicity of friendship and gratitude. That the idea was foreign, and“out there”, didn’t translate nearly as strongly as that I was running to support them and the continued success of our working together. I was surrounded by well wishes and support. They even asked whether the event would be broadcast on television for them to watch, despite that neither community has access to television!
Just having passed the halfway mark at 21 km/13 miles, Dana and running mate, Kaitlyn, still have lots of energy for the cameras!
On May 18, hundreds of hours of muscle cramps, “carbo-loading” and 5 AM alarm clocks were put to the test. With one of my best friends by my side, 2,000 muscle-ripped runners surrounding me and a palpable energy of anticipation, I took a deep breath and started out on the most taxing 4 hours and 28 minutes of my athletic life. We wound through the districts of Lima, the route blending into one continuous length of unforgiving pavement after reaching the halfway point at 21 km/13 miles. Hearing the steady rhythm of my feet pressing forward, I looked around me, to those struggling, and realized I was running for something much bigger, more important and closer to my heart than my sore feet and legs - the women of the Andes. Not to mention that I was one of few who were crazy enough to train like an Inca runner at 12,000+ feet in the Andes!
Exhausted and achy, the girls finish strong in under 4 hours 30 minutes!
I crossed the finish line with my head held high for my friends and colleagues in Chaullacocha and Rumira Sondormayo and with the love and kindness of too many to name, we have raised over $2,000. These funds will be invested in skills improvement and capacitation workshops that educate, and empower indigenous artisans by developing professional skills. These include finer-quality weaving and spinning, self-organization and leadership, an education that will cycle back to improve not only their own quality of life but that of their children too.
A celebratory shot of the marathoners and half-marathoners. What are they thinking? "Bring on the food!"
I believe that these are the changes that will change the world, thus that no matter when or how small, your support will help us in continuing our efforts for a brighter future in Peru. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all those that have donated and will donate (please be in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org)!