On the morning of Saturday September 8, 2012, 28 runners ran the last route of the Challenge 21x24. The location: Yasuní National Park.
The route started in the kilometer 21 of the Maxxus road through Pompeya, Orellana. This road has 180 km and cuts the Green Forest, cuts Nature...
Lourdes Hernandez, organizer of the Challenge said: "Running here could be seen as an approval of the construction of this road and others that are in process. Conversely, it is the place to say: the only footprints left in the Amazon should be the ones of our running shoes"
Orellana was the last province
After a 45-minute flight to Coca, an hour by boat and 2 hours by bus, athletes from Quito, Imbabura, Esmeraldas, Tungurahua and other parts of Ecuador, reached ECY, the Ecological Cientific Yasuni Station of the Catholic University, and spent the night there.
They left at 5:30am to the starting point. The route was drizzly and full of the sounds of thousands of crickets, frogs, birds and perhaps some mammal. Four Ecuadorian Army soldiers, 2 officers and 2 guides of the Repsol Station joined the group of runners. They arrived to the Pompeya Coliseum with the lead squad in less than 2 hours. The rest of athletes, self-named "Help-us-God-Group", got to the finish line exhausted, but happy.
Officer Valdiviezo, Andres Castillo from Banco Solidario and another soldier arrived first.
The Challenge 21x24 overall podium consisted of: Lourdes Hernandez with 24 routes, Patricio Chavez with 15 and Andrés Castillo with 9.
The closing event took place along the banks of the Napo River, with the presence of some Kichwa community residents. Ironically, at the same point converged settlers, environmentalists, oil company employees, military members and urban citizens, all parties to the conflict, interested in their slice of the cake: Yasuní.
It's 4am now and it is raining heavily in this part of the Amazon. The runners are thinking of Quito and its multiple and devastating fires. May these clouds download water on the dryness of the Sierra...
The jungle is quite aggressive to humans who are not aware of it. Lots of plants and animals can go against a person just by getting close to a tree. One of the runners got into the path of the “military” ants in sandals. They invaded her feet quickly and tried to bite her skin. The good news were that their formic acid helped ease muscle pain from the morning jog.
504KMS IN 2 YEARS FOR A CAUSE: LIFE
At the starting line, Lourdes Hernandez said to the runners:
"Before you say any word, I ask you to listen to silence. Feel the strength of life in the forest and with that energy, begin to run. Here is God and the origin of creation.
This challenge is profound, it is a mission to enforce our rights: the right to a virgin territory, to breath pure air, for our children and their children. We run for the right to see, hear, touch, smell, this unique wonder.
We could have stayed quietly in our homes, in our jungle of cement, back in Quito, and see from there the destruction of the Park. But we came. We came to see our Yasuní. To ask for what belongs to us. And now that we know the sacred forest, now that we have slept with the singing of birds, crickets, water ... we love it. We all need oil, but primarily we need air. A Japanese philosopher said that the flight of a butterfly affects the whole world. How much affects a drill into the ground after cutting the trees?
When you come to the forest, your life changes forever. Today we will fulfill the dream of completing a challenge that began two years ago: to run 21 kilometers in each province of Ecuador to raise awareness for the conservation of Yasuni. Our life has changed forever. We're happy but not satisfied. We will not rest until this area can rest intact."
CHALLENGE 21X24 RESULTS:
· 504 kilometers (504,000 meters of unique landscapes)
· 634 participants (634 friends in every corner of the country)
· 150 newspaper, radio, internet, tv publications and reports. Thousands of people have heard about Yasuní and now want it conservation.
The Challenge organizers sent a letter to President Rafael Correa reporting the achievement and a shared mission: to look after life in the Yasuni.
Thanks to: Banco Solidario, main sponsor of the Challenge 21x24. Water Vivant, Alamo, Podium, Cuersu graphic design and Fundación Amazonia por la Vida. Ecuadorian personalities: Iván Vallejo, Franklin Tenorio, Diana Landi, and Maria Teresa Guerrero. Yasuni- ITT Initiative for its hats and bracelets, photos of the Amazon species and the permission to enter the Park. In each of the 24 provinces we have worked with one or more generous and passionate volunteers.