After months of planning and organizing and weeks of extreme stress and anxiety for the event planners (Nicole, Rachel and I), our first ever MPI Ecuador 5k is officially over. Although we experienced a few glitches along the way, the race was a success and should be ten times easier to plan and execute next year. We held the event in Rumiloma on Saturday morning, with the race starting a block away from the library, and the finish line right in front of the Centro. We made all the PDs and summer vols get up bright and early and head to the library to set up and start inscriptions. The DJ showed up early as well, it wouldn’t be an event in Ecuador without reggaton blaring at 7am.
Thanks to all of our sponsors, we had a plethora of sports drinks and water for the participants, drawstring backpacks and water bottles for everyone, and an array of cool prizes for the winners in each category. Since it was our first race, and the first race ever in Rumiloma, the streets weren’t exactly lined with cheering supporters. What we had instead were very confused storeowners, and bus drivers who had to temporarily change their routes to let our runners through. We had full support of the police who drove in front and behind the runners to keep the roads clear and make sure everyone stayed on the route, and an army of red cross volunteers on hand just in case. A bunch of friends and English students who didn’t want to run came out to volunteer and made our jobs a lot easier. The categories for the race started at age 15, but we had a few eager kids who wanted to run the full race as well. One 11 year old finished in amazing time, beating all of the women and a majority of the men as well. Special mention also goes out to Walter’s 9 year old son who thought he was in the kid’s race and ran the entire 5k while his dad looked everywhere for him.
When the 5k was over, we had a special race for kids on the cancha. This was by far my favorite part of the event. We had a bunch of library regulars show up ready to run, along with the kid’s of some of the 5k participants. We split the group up into two age groups, the 5-9 year olds running one time around the field, and the 10-14 year olds running two laps. The kids all got really excited and took off sprinting as fast as they could, and collapsed in the grass panting after crossing the finish line. There were enough leftover donations to be able to give each of the kids who ran a PowerAde bag, and we awarded prizes to the winners after the awards for the 5k.
During the event, Emily and the adult nutrition students sold healthy snacks they had prepared the night before, and handed out information about our programs. We did brief demonstrations of all our women’s exercise classes, and had quite a crowd join in with us. The event drew great support from our community, library regulars, friends and our adult students. It also helped to spread the word about Manna, and brought some new faces from as far as Quito to see what we do here. Stress aside, the event was a lot of fun to plan, and we look forward to seeing it grow in the years to come!
Early morning inscriptions
On your mark...
Red Cross volunteers
Our neighbor at the finish line
Emily selling snacks from nutrition class
Our niños getting ready to run
Emily, Nicole and Wendy coming in fast
Our male winners, all the way from Quito