Volcano100 is an annual 100-mile mountain bike race in Costa Rica where over 1,000 bikers race around the Rincon de la Vieja volcano.
Monica McIntyre helps co-direct the race. She and her business partner had been wanting to add an ultra-trail run to the race for a while – meaning that a select few runners would spend 22 hours running around the volcano instead of biking it.
After becoming an active volunteer for O.U.R. this year, Monica had an idea. What if the 2017 Volcano100 race adopted O.U.R.’s cause for the race? And, what if they had a few runners run around the volcano to raise awareness for O.U.R.?
Suddenly the 2017 Volcano100 race took on a whole new meaning.
McIntyre’s business partner knew of two women from Costa Rica, Natalia and Amanda, who were ultra runners that may be interested in joining. After they extended the offer for them to “break the ground” for the new running trail around the volcano, Natalia and Amanda knew they needed to start learning more about O.U.R.’s cause. Amanda shared with us,
“When I first heard about Operation Underground Railroad, I was skeptical about the cause, because I wasn’t aware of the problem. After reading, researching and watching documentaries and learning more about the cause I became convinced that this problematic is something that concern all of us. It is a worldwide problem that is invisible.”
The big race did not stop developing there. Volcano100 directors also reached out to Johanna Solano, Miss Costa Rica 2011.
She was in the middle of training for an Ironman race when she was invited to participate in the bike race. She immediately accepted the invitation to represent O.U.R. for the race. The Volcano100 directors hope to bring her back in future years to participate.
On September 1st at noon, Natalia and Amanda took off on their 22 hour run from the Stadium of Liberia. The conditions weren’t exactly comfortable – it was 98 degrees (F) with 90% humidity. The mountain bike race began early the next morning so the bikers could join them on the last 5 kilometers of the run.
When asked if they ever felt like giving up, Amanda said,
“It was my first time running for a cause, and since I committed to it and started my training the only thing that I had in mind was that my running would help others. I found myself running for something bigger than a medal, a time, a position, I was training harder and more focused than I have ever trained because in my mind it wasn’t about me, it was about thousands of children that are facing a horrible reality and I could help them just by given them a “voice”, by make them visible.”
Much support was provided to these runners through the entire process. Their personal trainers, massage therapists, and nutritionists gave them all the support they needed, because they each wanted to help with the cause.
“This was my first time running for 24 hours, before this race, my longest period of time running was for 14 hours. It was definitely a challenge to keep running for so many hours and kms but the idea of stopping never came to my mind, I run the whole time thinking that we were doing this for a child that didn’t choose to be part of this horrible reality, as my partner said during some parts of our race: “thinking about giving up is sending a message to all of these children saying that there is no hope. They must know there are many people out there trying their best to change their reality, to find them and to give them hope.”
Although Costa Rica is one of the top ten countries that struggles with sex tourism, there is little awareness. Miss Costa Rica, along with Natalia and Amanda, participated in this race to help raise awareness in their country about child trafficking. Their dream is to create an O.U.R. Volunteer Area Team to continue spreading awareness of the trafficking issue in Costa Rica.
This inspiring story is not the first of its kind. There are hundreds of people across the world raising awareness about child trafficking. That is a huge step in the direction to end child trafficking globally. With all of these modern-day abolitionists, we are strengthening our army against trafficking every day. We are grateful for all of those involved with this race and fundraiser.
What can YOU Do?
Many people raise funds for O.U.R. through races and events. A few months ago, some O.U.R. volunteers held a 5k race in Brian Head, Utah. There was recently a devastating fire there, and they made the awards out of salvaged trees from the burn area. Read the full story about why they did so here.
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