Running Through Fire - Page 6
50K runners celebrate on the beach at the finish line. Photo by Guillermo Brenes Bolanos.
“I didn’t make too many mistakes,” said Clark. “I fueled and hydrated well, stayed patient all day by running my own race and maintained good forward progress. The second 50K was test of perseverance under the hot sun.”
Thirty minutes later, James came tearing down the street and around the corner to the finish. “Buy me a Coke!” he shouted to Jamil, tossing him a handful of Nicaraguan córdobas. Not far behind, Nick Coury stumbled across the line and more or less tripped into the waiting chair.
“I just sat there and tried really hard not to pass out,” he said later. James finished in 11:05:44, also under the old record; Coury finished in 11:20:50.
Having had their fill of sun and dust, Clark and James climbed into the back of a pickup destined for the cold waters of the Ojo de Agua springs across the island. A few hours later, after dark, I sat drinking Toñas with Sharman, the Courys, and several other runners in a nearby cantina. Clark hopped in, cleaner but still donning his soiled jersey; late 100K finishers trickled in for food and beer, and word came in that local favorite Johnson had bested Pak—the only other finisher—in the Survival Run. The night wrapped up early, despite Sharman’s protests.
A few days—and one bumpy boat ride to the mainland—later, a group of us walked back from dinner in Managua to find the field across the street from our hostel engulfed in flames; it seemed the un-scorched plot had been a mosquito haven and this was the going solution. As the sirens of a lost fire truck encircled us, a diminutive local man ran into the field, pulled a large branch from the nearest tree, and began slapping the ground where it burned. With each stroke of the tree branch a puff of dried grass, leaves, and burning embers floated into the night sky, slowly fading away.
This story originally appeared in our October 2013 issue.
Alex Kurt was referred to as Ginger Alex in Nick Clark’s post-Fuego y Agua blog post. He lives in Minneapolis.