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Ultramaraton Fuego y Agua collaborates with Carrera Verde for running shoe donations to Nicaragua

Ultramaraton Fuego y Agua collaborates with Carrera Verde for running shoe donations to Nicaragua

This June, over 400 Nicaraguan runners will receive a pair of running shoes donated by Ultramaraton Fuego y Agua in collaboration with the US Embassy, Fundenic, Managua Runners, and the American Nicaraguan Foundation. The first presentation of this donation will be on Sunday, May 13 at the Carrera Verde in Managua. Fuego y Agua started in 2008 as a vision to bring responsible eco-tourism in the form of an extreme ultramarathon on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua. One of the projects every year has been to donate new or gently used running shoes to the children of Ometepe for the NDI/FYA Calzado Kids Race the day after the ultramarathon. This year there were over 450 children running and over 450 pairs of running shoes were donated! There is nothing more wonderful than seeing the children’s faces as they finish the race with their new shoes. After several years of exciting growth, Fuego y Agua has decided to expand their “side” project to all of Nicaragua. The American Nicaraguan Foundation will be providing shipping and logistics support while Managua Runners will provide assistance in distributing the shoes to those runners who need it most. Donations come from runners in the US as well as Soles4Souls, and Marathon Kids. The purpose of the donations is to provide those who cannot afford running shoes an opportunity to train and compete. Fuego y Agua encourages healthy living through running and intends to grow the sport in all of Nicaragua. Fuego y Agua is proud to work with Fundenic (Yo No Tiro Basura), the US Embassy, Managua Runners, and Nicaragua’s Carrera Verde to make this donation possible. We look forward to working together in the years ahead to accomplish the mutual goals of growing responsible eco-tourism, a better protected environment, and an increasingly healthy population.

Calzado 5k Kids Race 2012 - a letter to all of our supporters

Josué and I are so excited, the big day is almost here! The other evening we had a Skype conference call with NDI, the organization that helps to co-produce the Calzado 5K, and Tabatha was telling us that several of the local children, due to excitement about the race, have been eagerly training for their big day. As many of you may know, the Calzado 5K is a Fuego y Agua event that aims to donate free running shoes to local children of Ometepe, and then with NDI's help, produces an invigorating 5K race that they can all participate in. Our goal is to help promote awareness for a healthy lifestyle and running as a form of enjoyable fitness.

I still remember the first time we organized the Calzado 5K: we had children showing up to run in everything from flip flops, to tight leather shoes that looked like they had been resuscitated out of an old, dusty box. As you can imagine, good quality running shoes are a rare and expensive commodity there. That is why it is so important to the children that we bring running shoes to their race.

This year we are expecting over 400 children! To make this race happen we really need help from every FYA friend we have. Our biggest challenge, surprisingly, is not finding 400 pairs of shoes, but rather transporting 400 pairs of shoes to the island. Over the years we have been trying to discover an effective method to transport such a high volume of shoes, but so far we have not found a feasible solution.

The true success of this endeavor lies in every member of the FYA family pitching in. If each runner and volunteer could bring anywhere from 10 - 15 pairs of new or gently used running shoes we could easily reach 400 pairs of shoes, and bring much excitement to hundreds of children!

I would like to extend my deep gratitude to all of those who have already pledge to bring many more pairs of shoes than this; we are extremely grateful.

We also accept donations to sponsor the kids race, and to help pay for the over-sized baggage fees and shipping costs that we find ourselves battling with as we try to transport large amounts of shoes. Donations can be made at our Registration Page.

I have many happy memories of last year's Calzado 5K. I remember seeing several runners and volunteers excitedly pointing as children would saunter by in a pair of shoes they had personally donated for the race. Or how when the number of shoes available started to get a bit low, we had a few runners who in a beautiful act of kindness donated shoes right off their very own feet! As you can see, Fuego y Agua is much more than a race. It is a community of athletes and friends who hold a strong belief in running for greater causes.

So please join in and help us organize a great race for the children of Ometepe this year! To learn more about the Calzado 5K and what you can do to help please visit our Calzado 5K page on our website.

Josué and I look forward to meeting (or re-greeting) each of you in a few weeks time.

— Paula

*Photos courtesy of John Frierson Photography