Wednesday, July 3, 2013

2nd Annual Manna 5k

This pass Saturday witnessed the second annual Manna Project 5K race for health.  In preparation for the event, the MPI Ecuador crew had been advertising locally—distributing professionally made (color!) flyers complete with race maps, contact information, sponsors, and graphics—clearing race routes with local authorities, soliciting donations from local corporations and organizations, and completing other footwork necessary to organize our little jogging jamboree.  All in all our pre-race preparations went quite well.  Although a couple of potential sponsors/donors fell through, we were able to obtain two $100 gift certificates from an outdoorsy chain named Explorer, 100 bottles of Gatorade from local partner organizations, as well as some neat backpacks, buffs and water bottles from another company named Andes 6000.  Thanks to the amazing affordability of Ecuadorian produce, we were also able to buy over 100 bananas for the modest price of $9.00.  So, armed with a formidable arsenal of potassium, electrolytes, and baked goods (PDs in charge of cooking and nutrition classes graciously whipped up some goodies for a bake sale), we woke up early on Saturday morning to get the show on the road (literally).

Everyone got to the library at around 7:00 a.m. and we began setting up sign-up tables and signs, as well as beginning a quick search for a tent in order to shade our main table from the potent dry season sun.  Set up went smoothly; Peter and our friend Gastón rather ingeniously set up a giant sign at the finish line using a borrowed ladder, several large rocks, rope (I should clarify: jumpropes), metal wires, and a giant wooden pole (I believe pictures will do the contraption justice).  And although our tent search proved fruitless, another friend named Vinicio came through in the clutch, calling his cousin who lent us a tent free of charge.  Heather, Jenni, and Janine frolicked about managing everything, while a combination of PDs and summer volunteers ran three different sign-in tables for our different age group categories.  And as all of this was occurring, the DJ we hired for the morning had the music thumping in front of the library (we let our poor upstairs neighbors know that they will be receiving some baked goods from us later on this week for graciously putting up with the noise so early on a Saturday!).Red Cross volunteers arrived at about 8:20 in order to help out in any way they could and to provide emergency medical care if needed.  And as 8:30 rolled around (our stated start time), we were slightly concerned that the local police had still not appeared to shut down the necessary streets and intersections.  But once we phoned them they told us not to fear, they were just leaving their station, so we simply delayed the start of the race by about 20 minutes.  This worked out well as a handful of runners continued trickling after 8:30 and they were able to sign-in and warm up without a hitch.  So, at around 9 a.m. when Gastón and another friend, Ivo, shouted the obligatory “Ready, Set, Go!” the race was off.  In the end, our overall winner finished with an impressive time of fifteen minutes and fortyfour seconds.  But before we handed out any awards, there was still the kids race to be run.  Out on the soccer field in front of the library, we organized the kids into two separate groups by age.  The younger runners would run one lap around the field where the older ones would run two.  The top five finishers in each kids race received a medal, and everyone received a bag of candy.

Heather proceeded to give a short speech thanking everyone for coming, thanking our sponsors, and talking a little bit about what Manna Project is and what we do.  She then passed the microphone to our friend Joshua who announced the top three finishers in each adult category, as well as the top five finishers in each kids race. All top finishers received a medal and the adults received prizes including the gift certificates previously mentioned, free English classes with Manna, backpacks, and water bottles. In the end it was a fun, little morning spent with community members and friends.  The race went quite smoothly, normal little worries and hiccups falling away like a bead of sweat off a runner’s forehead.  And so it was that we also drifted into the weekend.

 English student Jorge and his son who shunned the children's race and ran the whole 5k!
 Summer intern Sarah running the bake sale table
 Our eager runners at the start line
 Getting pumped up for the kid's race
Lucy leads the way for our first group of kids (under 10 years old)