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Thu 20 Feb 2020

Guatemala Impact Marathon: From dream to reality

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When we first started the Impact Marathon Series in 2015, we had a focus on finding the countries you wouldn’t normally visit, finding communities you wouldn’t normally connect with and finding race routes you didn’t think were possible. We wanted to bring the biggest issues facing the world to life in a complete unique and powerful way. 

Back in 2015, we were learning the different nuances it takes to make an Impact Week come alive. We had decided that Nepal Impact would be our first race but the entire vision relied on us finding a model that could scale to touch hundreds of communities around the world - and we’re still learning that model. 


Originally, we were looking at The Global Goals and pinpointing place the right communities to tell specific stories that we wanted to tell. That just shows how naive we were back then - and it was in the planning of our Guatemala race that we realised that the Impact platform only becomes powerful when communities tell their story, not the other way round. 

We had planned to talk about Climate Change - with Guatemala being such a biodiverse country that will feel the impact of climate - as well as it being a country hiding just out of sight from the tourists gaze, it seemed perfect. 

But the story wasn’t being told how we had envisaged. And try as we might, we constantly kept finding 90% of what we were looking for, never the 100%. Over the course of 8 weeks, we travelled the length and breadth of the country, searching for the ingredients that make up an Impact Marathon yet it didn’t seem to click - it felt like we were forcing the whole idea. 

Then, on the penultimate day, something just clicked. Three meetings back to back changed the entire outlook. 


  1. Athletes’ Village: After a meeting with an old school friend, we were introduced to Briana who runs EarthLodge and within 5 minutes of looking around their setup, above the colonial town of Antigua, overlooking the daily eruptions of Fuego Volcano and with stunning treehouses to live in...the answer had been right on our doorstep all along. Sometimes, you are best not overthinking things.
  2. Community Story: It turns out, Climate Change was being talked about, but we weren’t actually listening to the conversations - until suddenly we were. Meeting up with Corinna Grace, the Founder of SERES, an organisation creating voices in the youth, the indigenous and the girls of Guatemala. They were all talking about Climate Change but they were looking at it from the perspective crop yields, of waste management, of deforestation - it was all viewed from a community viewpoint, not a global viewpoint. We knew we had found a charity that was ready to take the long-term approach, seeking systemic change rather than a short-term, feel-good approach. 
  3. Race Route: Our initial contact in-country had been Victor Juarez, a man with an infectious enthusiasm for his country and a raw passion to share it with you. Sitting in the awesome Impact Hub office space, with a beer in hand we chatted through where the project was…he threw out an idea: “Have you thought about running on Pacaya Volcano?”…”What, a live volcano, is that even possible?”… the cornerstone of the Impact Experience had suddenly fallen into place.

 

And so an Impact Marathon was born. As we enter the 3rd year of this race, it is our most popular one yet. We have built friendships and partnerships, we now have an amazing following amongst Guatemalan runners and we have a truly life-changing experience lined up. The lessons learnt as we give the space to the community to tell their story, in their words - the result will be a country brought to life in a way you just can’t experience in any other way.


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Since this post, our race has gone from strength to strength in Guatemala - we are now on our 7th event! So you can register for Guatemala Impact Marathon 2024 right now.


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