Thanks to Ultrarunner and Race Director Brad Quinn for this wonderful testimonial on Fuego y Agua!
Back in the spring of 2008 I contacted Josue Stephens about his Fuego y Agua 100km event, which I had heard about on a local trail running website. I had not met Josue yet, but knew of his outstanding win at Bandera 100km. Josue was living in Austin, TX at the time and my family and I were in the Texas Hill Country....Horseshoe Bay, which is approx 50 miles NW of Austin. We exchanged emails, arranged a time to met and quickly became fast friends. We shared the same passions of trail running, travel, family, race directing and philanthropic work. I was excited about the possibility of racing in Nicaragua and assisting Josue with race preparation. My wife, Nyla and I had recently started a charity trail race called Capt'n Karl's Run, along with Team Traverse and thought Fuego y Agua would be a good fit with these new interests. I had also done a study abroad in Nicaragua and lived, worked and gotten married in Belize. Central America holds a special place in my heart.
A lot had happened in our lives in the years surrounding FYA. We had a one year old, built a new house, multiple job changes, adopted two girls and just had our second biological child (if your not counting that means zero kids to four children in a matter of 20 months!). Consequently, he had been born with an uncommon congenital disorder. "Sagittal Craniosynostosis is a condition in which one or more of the fibrous sutures in an infant skull prematurely fuses by ossification, thereby changing the growth pattern of the skull" (Wikipedia). We were extremely lucky that surgery was a viable option. However, surgically removing an infants entire skull, cutting it up into smaller pieces, and then re-arranging the bones for proper growth....was quite a frightening alternative. Four months after his birth Latham underwent surgery, which successfully corrected his condition and allowed us to consider the adventure to Nicaragua.
I prefaced this story with some personal details of our family life, to encourage anyone reading this to strongly consider this amazing adventure and one of kind trail race. We all have a busy existence and a lot going on, but need to remember the important things in life. Spending time with family and friends, along with new life experiences. These qualities are at the core of Fuego y Aqua. One of the main reasons we decided to take our kids to Nicaragua, was to show them how most people in the world live and enjoy life. Nyla and I also want to instill a sense of community and altruism in our children, which is prevalent at FYA and the activities surrounding this event.
So, with all the things going on at the time of FYA we still managed to buy tickets, get our passports, make hotel/car reservations and ultimately have a wonderful trip. I think when people first hear about this event it may sound a bit challenging, expensive and/or difficult to arrange. This is far from the truth. Nicaragua is a two and a half hour flight from Houston, and is a major transportation hub. Tickets are reasonable and travel related expenses are less than say, five days at Disney World or a family cruise. Josue and Paula are extremely helpful, resourceful and well organized race directors. FYA is a demanding adventure race set in one of the truly unique and beautiful islands of the world. The people of Nicaragua are very friendly and I felt safe with my young family throughout our travels.
Oh, did I mention that my 67 year old parents from Wisconsin also attended and volunteered at both the 2008 and 2009 events. This vacation was slightly out of their comfort zone, but with a little encouragement and reassurance of quality family time with their grand kids, they were totally on board. It was an unparalleled adventure for them and they still brag about it to their friends even to this day.
Josue and Paula have done a terrific job with providing information on the FYA website. However, if anyone has specific questions about our experiences to Isla de Ometepe, race strategy, terrain, equipment, etc; please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In closing, I cannot say enough positive things about Josue and Paula Stephens, Nicaragua and Fuego y Agua. "Run like crazy, run to change the world."