Susan Barraza-The Challenge of the Messenger
"THE EARTH DOES NOT BELONG TO US RATHER WE BELONG TO THE EARTH"
21 LEGUAS: THE CHALLENGE OF THE MESSENGER - AN OUTSTANDING EXPERIENCE COMPLETE
Last year I ran the National Country Marathon (XCM) Cross Championship in the city of Calama, where the 98 kilometres started from the 3000 metres high in the mining Rodomiro Tomic. I remember that race was particularly harsh, maybe not so technical a circuit though, but because you needed to finish a lot of physical and mental strength was required.
When I read about this new challenge in the desert that required me to complete 100 kilometers starting from Calama to reach the spa Coya, without going through Maria Elena, I didn't hesitate much - I wanted to come back and live again the experience of surviving a challenge this magnitude. The date was set for the day June 8, 2016, and I was exceited.
So what is 'The Challenge of the Messenger?' The website says this:
'Since ancient times, the caravan routes were the paths chosen by the "chosen" to travel, meet new horizons and wealth, as well as connecting the highlands to the coast. Only the most skilled could face similar distances and weather conditions. 21 Leguas (100 km) is the distance to be traveled to unite Calama with Maria Elena. We want to invite you to this challenge. We want you to recorras with your bike, you feel what they felt the messengers of the Inca Empire. We want to entrust a message of vital importance for peace of peoples. If your message does not reach its destination. The battle is lost.'
Another rainy weekend so announced in the news is coming, but that did not matter much, because for me and many others rains would not be an impediment to enjoy our beloved bikes. Luggage and mind ready to have a great weekend.
6.30 am and the alarm sounded to wake me up, with the temperature -1 degree and the bed invited us to go back to sleep (zzzzzz). Clothing, food and hydration had been organized the previous day. I decided to run with short tights because although the cold was considerable at that hour of the morning, my previous experience told me that the sun in the desert that would be more relentless noon.
We start at 8.30 am, about a neutralized start in the middle of the city of Calama, with the occasional stray dog threatening to leave a mess in the middle of the 300 runners who had agreed to be messengers in this challenge. Messengers, and I say that before leaving gave us a kind of parchment impregnated with a cloth bag symbolic message, a detail that had not seen in another race. It was quite original and different taste. My own message said "The earth does not belong to us rather we belong to the land."
One of the dogs we saw on the road
|view of the route from my GoPro||Flagstone: responsible for several retirements|