To Run is To Live: My pueblo has a running club!

After somewhat accidentally signing up for running club last weekend, I had a 5k today with our motley group in a nearby town.

I’ve run a few races here in Colombia, but this race was something special! The invitees came from all the small towns in the area, and the whole thing was free–including the salsa music at the starting line!

I got about 3 hours of sleep due to a karaoke night next door, so I was dragging a bit by the time we got to the place (keep in mind this is all on Colombian time–it takes roughly 45 minutes longer to accomplish anything, so we met at 5:30, left at 6:30, started the race an hour and a half late, and so on…)

But let me tell you, you have not truly enjoyed a pre-race warmup session until you’ve danced champeta on the starting line at 8 am!

I’ve been using my Polar heart rate monitor to set my running pace, so I settled in to a pretty quick pace. It’s only a 5k (3miles) after all–I can push myself the whole way through.

Fast forward 35 minutes, and it turns out that this race was more like 8 kilometers (5 miles), with hills, in what was now the heat of the day since we got such a late start!

Thank God for the unexpected kid with the garden hose at mile 3, and the water stations roughly every quarter mile!

But what really kept me going was the incredible support from the pueblo: everyone was on their front porch cheering, and the kids ran alongside us.

“Cheer for the gringa!”

“Go, blond girl, go!”

“Look at that Dutch girl run!”

I finally started fist pumping and panting “U-S-A” to the crowds, because I can’t have anyone thinking the sole foreigner in this race was Dutch. Gotta rep my country!

So once I finally made it all the way in, and successfully sprinted to pass the woman I’d been tailing, I crossed the finish line and then the fun began!

Here’s a few notes on costeños: they love nothing more than telling jokes, eating soup, taking selfies and listening to coastal music! So, true to form, we proceeded to take a load of sweaty pictures, eat hot soup, recount every minute of the race together and dance salsa in the street! (Confession: I did most of the dancing).

I met a sweet indigenous guy from the north in Guajira, who gave me a pretty bracelet he made and introduced us to his brother. Those kids ran like the wind!

Finally, we said our goodbyes (I made a lot of new friends) and trekked to the bus….stopping, of course, for 5 bottles of soda and a bag of cookies….then again for chicharrones! Needless to say, I stuck to my banana and Gatorade. Oh, my costeños…

To conclude the wild day, on the bus, I was somehow elected the secretary of this running club, so it sounds like there will be more races to come!

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