Call to Action

A week after getting back from my Impact Marathon Series (IMS) Guatemala Experience, I’m left a bit paralyzed on how to best share the story. How was it? Well, it was awesome! But there is so much more I want to share…

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First off, the quickfacts. In November 2016 I participated in the first ever IMS marathon in Nepal. A team of 85 runners built a 5k water pipeline for a small village outside of Kathmandu. In exchange, we got to run a marathon in one of the most breathtaking and challenging landscapes in the Himalayas.

Upon returning to Canada, I was inspired to share my story and take it to the next level. My purpose for the next IMS experience was to assemble a team from my local community to experience the feeling for themselves.  Create a movement with friends that could see first hand what they can achieve in a week by combining the power of running with volunteering.

In the Spring of 2017, Team Canada was assembled. 12 individuals from different walks of life: some running their first half and full marathons, parents of young children,  parents of teenagers, millennials, a chiropractor, an event planner. Everyone had their purpose of why they signed up but they believed in IMS’s value prop:  “This is a race for those who think differently, who run for others & who dream that they can leave an impact.”

35 people from around the world, along with Team Canada, participated in the Guatemala Impact Marathon 2018…and they certainly left an impact.

Team Seres

We spent the beginning of the week visiting local communities and schools to see the way they lived. Their reality is that basic things such as cooking, cleaning and water is unsafe and they endure hard manual labor.  We got to see the impact that our fundraising made by helping re-outfit their kitchens and provide them with water sources to help better their way of life.

Mid-week, we embarked on a manual labor project where we supported the SERES organization by preparing the terrain for tree planting.  Once grown, the bamboo trees will be used in the construction of a future youth leadership community centre.

Guatemala is the 5th most violent country in the world and sadly, moments after we left the site, four of the volunteers from the SERES organization were violently assaulted.  For safety purposes, the second day of the project was cancelled.  This is the harsh reality for the 17 million people in Guatemala. This hit the team hard. Injustice. Confusion. Sadness. Pause. It really put into perspective our purpose of being in Guatemala.  This experience is so much more than digging holes in the ground, sharing pics on social media about all the good we were doing or running an epic race. Its about making a sustainable impact in a community.

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Finally we ended the week running the hardest race of our lives. Running up to the 2552M summit- twice! Volcanic ash and rock. Lava fields. +30degree temps. Every person finished. We cried, we swore, we laughed, we ran, we walked. Most importantly we supported one another to the very end. Not one person crossed that finish line without feeling they were a gold medalist in the Olympics.

If you read anything, please read this.

A huge thank you to the Impact Marathon team for your leadership, inspiration, stellar organization, keeping us safe, and seamless logistics. For the inaugural Guatemala event, we can’t be more proud and thankful!IMG_5260

Of course, no words can express how grateful I am for the 12 people from Team Canada that decided to take a leap of faith and join me in the experience.  There were many risk factors involved and the uncertainty of  not knowing all the details didn’t make it a simple decision.

But these people believed in the idea, the platform and the possible impact. Team, I can’t thank you enough.

What these 12 people take home with them after an experience like this is where the biggest impact sits. From their various perspectives, they have the power to share this knowledge with their own communities.

This opportunity is what I’m so excited about and the most proud of.

That’s the secret – the why.  I go on these experiences because it erases any doubts of not being able to push myself. It enables a cleaner lens of what I (WE) can do to assist our local & global communities and go a step above our normal day to day.

Team Canada is ready. They are ignited, inspired, and empowered.

They are driven with the possibility and hope for greater change.

How we leverage each of the team’s individual stories and bottle it up is the next step. We must maintain the momentum. Life happens. We get busy, the spark fades.

This is where I’m seeking the help of Team Canada and the other participants of the Guatemala 2018 Impact Marathon.

Lets reflect on this one question below and share in the comments section. Let’s commit to sharing our reflection & thoughts. Let’s be the voice in the community to empower one another. Let’s carry this energy beyond our immediate return to Canada.

What are you committed to do with the Guatemala experience in the next 3 months?

I’ll start…
I commit within the next 3 months:

  • To share the story with my colleagues, my friends and family and continue to encourage others to join us in the next adventure.
  • To be a support system for Team Canada, to listen to their ideas and encourage them to follow through on their fitness/running/volunteer goals.
  • To continue to support my local community by leveraging this experience.  Local is where the heart is, and change starts at home.
  • To find a group of youth who would be willing to join me in the next Impact Marathon Adventure. The power of time is valuable and if we start sooner, the possibilities of change are significant.IMG_4307IMG_4321

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9 thoughts on “Call to Action

  1. I feel grateful and fortunate to have been apart of this incredible experience. Thank you to the Impact team, Joe, Team Canada and everyone else who shared in this amazing adventure.

    I commit

    • To make wellness a priority and I will embark on a fitness challenge. I will encourage and inspire others to do the same. I will help grow this amazing running community by encouraging friends and family to start running and to push beyond their limits.

    • To share my story and this experience with colleagues and friends which will hopefully inspire them to embark on this life changing journey.

    • To be a role model to my children and show them firsthand the impact we can each have through giving back and supporting our local and global community.

    • That this will not be my last IMS race

    Val

  2. I feel grateful to be able to explore new parts of our world, to have been involved with so many others from around the world to volunteer in such a beautiful country. I commit to:

    -working with Joe, Jen and Leslie (at IMS) to get the IMS registered with Canadian authorities so that there are no obstacles to people wanting to donate
    -identifying ways to raise money for the IMS charities throughout the year instead of just at trip time.
    -continuing with my weekly volunteer work at the Shepherd’s of Good Hope’s morning food service (every Thurs morning before work)
    -already registered for half marathon at Ottawa Race Weekend (late May), and Rideau Lakes Bike event (early June)
    -registering/paying for IMS’s impact week in Malawi, Africa in spring 2019

  3. You know the expression blood, sweat and tears? Well this experience definitely had all 3. Very little blood, too much sweat and lots of sad AND happy tears. It took me less than a day to decide to enter this experience and let me tell you, it is definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made.

    Born in ex-Yugoslavia, I experienced a lot of hardships in my young life during our country’s civil war. However, I was lucky. Lucky to have strong and loving parents who took all the strength in the world and gave me and my sisters a safer life.

    Thanks to them, I have good memories about the hardest time of our lives. During our trip to Guatemala, I realized that that is what I wanted to do. I wanted to leave all of the people, mothers, children, with a happy thoughts and memories. I wanted to give them strength by showing them that there is hope and that things can and will get better. And for the time being, me (and the team) showing up and investing the blood, sweat and tear, is an indication of that. I truly hope that our presence created good memories that they can hold on to. Whereas for us, or at least for me, I was left feeling blessed, humbled, grateful and got a whole new perspective on life that I am still trying to put into words and practice. AND ON TOP OF ALL THAT, I made new friends for life!

    So in the next 3 months I commit to:
    • Continue running, training and participating in races.
    • Sharing my story with my family, friends, community, with the intention of impowering others to believe in something bigger and in themselves.
    • Planning and researching my next Impact Race!
    • Gather the next brave souls for the next Impact Race!

    After coming back from the trip, I was chatting with my twin about an issue I am facing and was being hard on myself. She looked at me and said “You are my hero, did you know that? You climbed an f’ing volcano, that takes so much strength… up here (points to head). You can do anything.” In that moment I needed to be reminded of the strength that I have within me. On top of that, I am someone’s HERO! That’s a label I will proudly wear. More (happy) tears…

  4. That trip help to re-ignite parts of me that have put on the back burner for several years as I have focused on building a career and raising a family. The trip was an incredible reminder of what the power of a Vision for Change can do. I cannot thank each and everyone of you enough.

    Christy’s commitments over the next 3 months:
    1. Reach out to Girls on The Run (an incredible Leadership program for young girls incorporating running) and work to convince them to let me start a chapter in Canada.
    2. Strengthen my on-going commitment to fitness and health (support my Team Canada buddies :)) -1/2 marathon booked in May.
    3. If I am not successful with goal # 1 -begin developing my own 10-week youth leadership and fitness program.

    Go team!

  5. To be as blessed as I am to have the life I have is truly a privilege.

    My experiences in running my own charitable foundation in Nepal (#unitefornepal) and my personal and professional involvement with IMS have provided for me my own real dream life.

    I know (really really know), that I am one of the lucky ones. I know from the most basic essence of my being that it is therefore my responsibility, my calling, my passion, my life to act on my sense of gratitude and fortune.

    I commit whole-heartedly and without hesitation to:
    a) give thanks everyday for my incredible husband and children who continually support my dreams and allow the free spirit within me to rise
    b) continue to tell my story to encourage, and hopefully inspire others to be the best version of themselves that they can be
    c) to raise £12,000 for Unite for Nepal projects for 2018/19

    Thanks Joe….a call to accountability is always a great way to help focus and motivate. XX

  6. Throughout our time in Guatemala we quickly learned that the end goal, the race, was not the main purpose or focal point of the week but rather it was all the events leading up to crossing the finish line. It was the grueling hours put into training in -35 degree weather. It was the time we spent laughing and jumping rope with the students at the school we visited. It was words of encouragement we shared with each other while planting bamboo in the sweltering heat. I think that is the beauty of the IMS experience, we grew to enjoy the journey instead of propelling blindly towards a goal.

    As I watched the sun rise every morning while doing yoga, I had the opportunity to pause and let it all soak it in. I had the chance to truly feel and appreciate every moment of laughter, every sunset, every meal, every smile exchanged. I think my mind and body need more of that. More conscious moments of pause. If there’s one thing I took away from this trip it is to be truly grateful for the life I live and to take more time bathing in the beauty of now.

    With this feeling of gratitude and wholeness, also came the urge to spread the positive energy firing in our hearts following our trip to Guatemala. I have committed to taking this feeling and passing it on to people that don’t have as much to be grateful for in my own community. What does that break down into:

    1.Finding a cause where my head, hands, and heart can work towards doing good locally. The first thing that comes to mind is an organization where I can tap into either my love of cooking or running.

    2.Incorporating wellness practices into my daily routine to remain grounded and perpetuate the wholeness I experienced while in Guatemala. This also means being kind to my body and creating a diversified fitness schedule that incorporates time to pause and recharge.

    3.Including the people I love the most in my journey. Every body is on their own path to happiness and wellness but it’s a heck of a lot more fun when you’re doing it together!!

  7. It’s taken me a while to find the words to write here. Guatemala was the most challenging, incredible, inspiring, raw week of my life to date. It’s incredibly hard to articulate all of the experiences we shared.

    When I crossed the finish line after ten hours running Pacaya, so many emotions came to the surface. Exhaustion. Pride. Exhilaration. Discomfort. Triumph. Pure Joy.
    As we walked back to the bus, Joe offered some local kids his very battered runners. An army of boys appeared out of nowhere to argue over these shoes. Instantly, a new perspective and wave of emotion hit me.

    Running up a volcano is nothing compared with the challenges Guatemalans face every day.

    We drove back to our stunning lodge to celebrate with friends, enjoy a hearty meal, receive medical treatment, sleep in a safe bed then travel home to a very comfortable life.

    One which many Guatemalans will never experience.

    I’m still struggling to reconcile these two very different worlds.
    I am aware my newfound “abundance guilt” will not help Guatemala.
    But my intention, my action and my influence will.

    So, this is my commitment:
    1. Continuing to practice gratitude each day
    2. Donating AUD $5 from each Appreciation Station to IMS charities {www.appreciationstation.com.au}
    3. Continue running to build on my health and fitness
    4. Participate in another IMS event in 2018 / 2019 {Kenya? Colombia?}
    5. Continuing to share my story and identify opportunities to fundraise for IMS charities

    Thank you Joe for inviting me on the adventure of a lifetime {so far…} and for inspiring me to live on purpose.

    Grace xxx

  8. I went into this journey to Guatemala with Impact having expectations. Expectations that I would meet people from all over the world who were coming together to work for common causes in the community. Expectations that I would experience the culture and run a race in an amazing beautiful place. Expectations that it would be very rewarding.
    All of those expectations were more than met. The bond I felt with those I traveled with and met. The incredible people I met that are doing so much good in the world. The value I can now appreciate for every dollar that these local organizations receive and how much it can improve someone’s life. This and so much more. I can honestly say I am forever changed.
    There is a term that I had not heard prior to this experience that really stayed with me- it is the fact that by being born in Canada I won the birth lottery. Because of where I was born I have a beautiful and safe place to live, free medical care and endless opportunity to travel and take my career in any direction I desire. Having won the birth lottery I now have to make the most of it – appreciate it – and do what I can to help others in my own community and around the world.
    In the next three months I commit to:
    – health and fitness. This trip also fired a spark in me to be the best I can be on the outside and in. I want to push and challenge myself so I can inspire others including my two daughters
    – spread the message of my experience in Guatemala and help make a bigger team Canada on our next impact adventure
    – tell the stories of the impact of The funds we raised for Guatemala and encourage people to continue to donate
    – build a community of friends and family who are likeminded in their desire to be fit, healthy and want to make an impact here in our community and abroad

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