After 7 days split between Santiago and Easter Island we were ready to begin the Rapa Nui Marathon. My day started without an alarm clock as the island rooster who started his daily call on cue at 6:00 A.M awakened me. I was always under the impression that they started as the sun came up but here on Easter Island that doesn’t happen until 7:30. So here I was ready to begin my day, 4 hours early, as the marathon would not begin until 10:00 A.M. In Rapa Uni time that is 10:15 or 10:30. After eating my pre-race meal of oatmeal and applesauce, accelerade, banana and a cup of coffee I was ready to take the ¼ mile walk to the starting line. To my amazement one of the local horses decided to run through the finish line, into the barrier and then out onto the lawn. Dogs were milling around the contestants and as I would later find out would run parts of the course along side of us.
The gun went off and we were all through the start happily running unaware of the first 6 mile uphill that awaited us. When we took the bus ride down from the turn-around the other day, it didn’t look like an uphill start let alone the first six miles! Again I thought I’d break the race down into segments as I really had a 4:34:00 marathon time in my mind. This time I broke it down into one-hour segments and with my every 15-minute aid replenishment this would be doable. Into hour one I began to relish in the magnificent scenery, eucalyptus trees, yellow flowers and more and more hills!!! I would pass Kevin (our photographer) and Cathy (our cheering squad) and ask, “Where are the downhill’s?” It really wasn’t until somewhere around mile 11 that my wish came true, a 1 ½ to 2-mile downhill….but guess what….after the turnaround I had that same downhill to maneuver uphill!! I made the turnaround in pretty good time completing the half in 2:18.
After the belt switch, a brief look at the ocean (where some contestants jumped in to refresh themselves) and a glance at the large Moai for encouragement, it was back to business as I was beginning the long, long uphill. Everywhere I looked I could see ocean surrounded by beautiful wild flowers and a grass that was a beautiful pink color. Horses were off in the distance and as I came further down cattle, along with the bull, horns and all, greeted me standing by the side of the road. Do I pass or let them pass? Luckily I had the right of way and they stood and waited. I was well into my 3-hour mark and wondering if I could hold my pace. I had been going back and forth with a very remarkable Rapa Nui girl named Alicia trading places, one moment she was ahead of me and then I’d take the lead. This went on well into mile 18 when we parted ways.
The course, which was extremely beautiful and difficult, was also lonely. It took me to places in my mind that at times was rather difficult to break through. In every marathon I have moments where I doubt myself but can manage to work through and gain strength. Out here I really struggled and finally decided to divert my attention by using my iPod. For some reason the very first song that played (I can’t remember the name of it) was one in which the words were “One Step At A Time!” I thought of Katherine and all those who I am raising money for as they live by the words “One Day At A Time.” When I let go of the final outcome and decided to just let my legs, heart and the terrain take me in; I felt that tension release as I once again got that second wind. And to my surprise there it was, the airport and what I now knew was the last 2-mile stretch. My third journey was about to be complete. I rounded the last turn to be greeted by Cathy, handed the Run7On7 flag and crossed the finish line in somewhere around 4:40:00 (official results not in at this writing.) To my amazement I was the 3rd female to cross the finish line and 1st in my age group!
I had another incredible race completed with the challenges that keep me motivated to conquer another. Once again I have met some wonderful new friends and found that the Rapa Nui way of life is something we Americans could take some lessons from. This isolated island is something that everyone, if given the chance, should put on his or her list of places to visit. And if you are in the mood to run a marathon, the Rapa Nui Marathon is a Must!!!
I will be home for two weeks and then off for my next adventure, Kenya and the Safari Com Marathon. I can only imagine what challenges I’ll meet there. I only hope that they are not 4 legged!!!
Please come back for more updates and I hope that you can find it in your heart to donate with whatever you can comfortably afford.
Until Next Time….. I’m still Dreaming Big!