"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Running the Amazon

Manaus, Brazil, the gateway to the jungle where the Rio Negro and Amazon rivers converge.  A city of 2 million and the largest in all of the northern Brazilian states.  Despite it's size, it has only recently seen the types of societal advancements that most of Brazil has enjoyed for centuries.  It is isolated from the more wealthy southern states (it is 1,700 miles from Sao Paulo) and due to the lack of any real over-the-road transport options, it remains a very poor region.  But as the Brazilian government has attempted to improve conditions through free trade zones and tax relief, it has offered the opportunity for companies, like the one I work for, to establish factories and expose start-up guys, like myself, to the Amazonas area.

Until recently, I have not had the time, nor the daylight, to take off on a run.  It's been the hotel treadmill, if at all. But this particular Saturday provided the opportunity.  And what a great run.  Starting outside the Holiday Inn, (the only one in this city of 2 Million should tell you something), I ran first through some city streets, bridged pathways and bus stops, (see the photos below, which can be clicked on to enlarge).  It was about a mile to clear the bulk of this busy-ness. 


The first few miles through neighborhoods 
As you might imagine, to make this an iPod run would both ruin the spirit of running here and likely lead to a tragic end for yours truly. Focus was of the utmost priority, as encounters with broken pavement, animals, and various modes of transportation will occur.  In certain areas of the course it was "Trailblazing 101".  
A few cut-through paths

Main road out to the country
After making it through an extremely large traffic circle it was on to the endless sidewalk.  Mostly used for residents to make the long walks to work, to the market or to the bus stops.  It was not too bad of a running surface.  For sure there were spots that even I was cautious about crossing, but overall it was a good 2 miles of changing elevation and smooth running (funny, but not really, I was the only one taking to the road this morning.  I'm sure there were puzzled looks, but mostly the poverty just doesn't allow for the luxury of shoes or the time to pursue a non-essential, non-survival activity.)  About every 1/2 mile I did pass a few food vendors like the ones pictured below.  Didn't have the time, nor the acclimated stomach, to try anything, but the aroma was very pleasing. 

The endless sidewalk with random vendors
As I cleared most of town, I was pushing 3+ miles and thought I had another couple in me before I turned around.  That's when I decided to follow a road that seemed to be fairly quiet, yet paved.  Ultimately it led back toward the river and you can see it off in the distance in one of the shots below.  But it also provided some real silence, broken only by the sounds of birds, monkeys and other really awesome noises.  I slowed the pace and felt very much alive through this mile of the run. In fact, I decided to get back into work today and finish what I need to do so that tomorrow is a completely free day to take a ride deep into the jungle. 

Unlike the Riverwalk, or even Miami Beach, I'm not sure how many of you will have the opportunity to run the Manaus trail.  But if you are ever in the neighborhood, go for it.  Cutting a path here is no different than back home, except for having to watch for traffic (there are no rules) and using your OFF (the mosquitoes will kill you if you don't watch out).......oh, and of course, the occasional monkey crossing!  Bom Dia!
The Amazon River in the background
Miles 3-5 consisted of THIS! (Unfortunately you can't hear the audio!)
How many of you came across this on your run today?
Click on map to enlarge
(max elevation 244’ - min elevation 78’ : Gain of 397’)

4 comments:

  1. I thought you were joking about the monkeys! This is quite the run!

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  2. That looks pretty cool Dave. Running through those neighborhoods would remind me how nice it is to live and run through Henderson. I don't know how safe I would feel in a foreign country running through a poverty stricken area. Those last couple of miles with the sounds and sights of the jungle looks more my style.

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  3. C, Monkeys are no joking matter!

    Paul, actually I have found when an entire population is so depressed economically there tends to be less tension in general. Especially among a typically pleasant and enduring people like in this area. I didn't really think about it being in an unsafe area since we are through these spots daily. And of the two I was probably a bit more anxious along the "safari" stretch. You never know what might crawl out, or if those Monkeys might have mistaken me for a giant banana out for a jog! I also started thinking about the possibility of "flying monkeys".

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  4. This run sounds wonderful! Did you actually see any monkeys :)

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