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…
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.
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.
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!
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 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.