• Juan J. Arrieta

Human touch highlights the adventure

Disclaimer: I received a set of BUFF® gear as part of being a BibRave Pro. Find and share race reviews by going to www.bibrave.com. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro by going to https://www.bibrave.com/bibravepro.

As I think back to my Buff #livemorenow adventure this past weekend at the Chicamocha Trail Run, the overwhelming memory that I am still savoring today is how warm and welcoming a great number of fellow athletes as well as local people were to me before, during, and after the race. There is no doubt that one looks forward to great scenery and a number of other factors involved during an event like this, but the connection and interaction with others can make all the difference in the overall experience.

During the hour and a half bus ride to the race start point in the town of Carcasí as well as through our warm-ups during our wait there, several of us connected and chatted about anything and everything; whether or not it was our first time participating there, the things that we were nervous about, the equipment we were carrying around and wearing, etc.

After the race started and around mile 5-6, there was a group of four us who had settled on a similar pace and were laughing and enjoying the trail when all of the sudden I slipped on a wide mud patch we were crossing. When I fell on my side and tried to get up, my right calf cramped up so suddenly and tightly that I yelled loudly in pain and fell back down in disbelief. Within seconds, the three other runners in the group came to my aid and helped me get back up after stretching my leg and feet and the cramp had subsided.

Then during what to me was a brutal and final climb of over 2,000 feet over the last couple of miles when I just couldn't get rid of cramps on what felt like every muscle on my legs, a local resident named Celine happened to come up on the trail and noticed me struggling along. She said hello, encouraged me, and said she'd walk along and keep me company me on what remained of the climb. We had a great conversation during that time, and just as we entered the final segment of the race at the edge of the town of Málaga, she ran a bit ahead of me about a block away and came back with a bottle of water and a guava bar and gave them to me, saying they'd help give me one last spike of energy to reach the finish line. She did all of that simply out of the goodness of her heart when there wasn't even a bit of expectation or pressure for her to do so. She could have just as well looked at me and completely ignored me as I struggled on along the trail.

All of these "human touch" moments truly turned this challenge and adventure into what will always be an unforgettable experience to me.

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