Rebecca has been running for over a decade. From competing for her college, to clocking miles as an escape university studies, running has become an integral part of her life, and is a sport which has recently given her the opportunity to implement real change thanks to Impact Marathon Series…
When I first got involved with Nike Run Club and WMN Run, I was in awe of the incredible influential people I was meeting, and saw running in a new light. I wanted to know more, but more importantly I wanted to do more. I was 7 marathons down and bored of running road marathons when I heard about Impact Marathon Series.
IMS is an organization that uses the power of running to sustainably build communities and bring people together with a goal of leaving a lasting impact on the world. They host races around the World and each race highlights three global goals which link with local charities and communities in each country. Impact runners spend 3 days working with these beneficiaries and charities, and experience first-hand the daily struggles and challenges some countries face.
Last November, I got the chance to be part of their work in Nepal, in what would become a life-changing experience. The community engagement centered on building a main water line to one of the local village’s in Kakani. This was a project selected by IMS, and has since been continued by UNICEF, due for completion by the end of this year. To know that a small start-up organization in its second year, pick-axing our way through a concrete road, now has the weight of a global fund behind it demonstrates that by enforcing small changes, we can really change the world for the better. This journey was incredibly emotional, but it is so empowering to see how much of a difference we can make through coming together and fundraising.
Not only did I experience some life changing memories, including having the opportunity to run the beautiful Nepal marathon, but I also met some incredibly hard-working inspirational people. Nick Kershaw, CEO of IMS, is one of the most passionate, positive and kind hearted people I have ever met. His energy throughout was infectious and I can honestly say his vision is one of the reasons I had to come back for another race.
Guatemala is a Country I knew very little about before arriving a couple of weeks ago and some runners had travelled from as far as Australia to take part in this marathon and invest their time in supporting the local communities. I love that running allows us to connect with and visit some of the most beautiful places and the trails take you to places you otherwise wouldn’t see.
The week had just begun and all the impact runners met at the athlete’s village Earth Lodge, based 5KM from Antigua. I was so excited for everyone as I knew just what an incredible week they had in store. The first evening was spent getting to know each other, discussing our loves for running, travel and charity and it became evident from the beginning that this week was going to be very special.
Day 2 was the first of our project days; Half of the group went to see spend the day with charity partner ADEMI, whilst the other day visited ABPD. We were able to learn a lot about the programmes which help local families to improve malnutirition, poor health and education. At the time I was shocked to hear chronic malnutrition affects 50% of children under five in Guatemala which poses the question as to what the future of Guatemala will look like if this continues.
Day 3 introduced us to an organisation named SERES. This non-profit-organisation aim to inspire the Guatemalan youths of today who are the most at-risk living on the frontline of climate change. We spent a full day digging, planting crops and laying bamboo plants. This was the early stages in creating a learning Centre across a huge complex of land. Over 60 people made up of runners, volunteers and students from the University of Dallas came together on this day and it really hit home just what it meant for us to be here supporting this country and community. Sadly that evening we got some unfortunate news that some locals had been to the site and attacked some workers as well as stealing tools and damaging parts of the site. Unfortunately it was deemed unsafe to return the following day to continue our work. This was an important reminder that Guatemala is a very corrupt Country and despite our best efforts to help the local communities, they were rebelling against this.
In the last 24 hours leading up to the race we were all digesting our actions from a very informative, motivating week of events. We all agreed that this was the perfect pre-race fuel heading into one of the toughest races imaginable. Being able to remind ourselves of the positive impact we were creating allowed us to dig deep physically but more so mentally to cross us over that finish line on race day. Saturday 10th March was the hottest day of the year thus far in Guatemala. Conditions were tough on the course but then you only had to remind yourself of the organizations you had worked with and seen that week to know you could finish this race and do it for them. That to me is an extraordinarily powerful feeling and one I cannot easy forget. Knowing you are helping, contributing to making the world a better place for everyone… well there aren’t many better feelings and I am so happy I found IMS to allow me to do that. I urge everyone to try one of their races for themselves, as I cannot explain in words what it does to you.
Lakes, Volcanos or Mountains? Guatemala, Malawi, Kenya or Nepal? Take your pick