Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. This year is not just any year in Paraguay, so therefore, this marathon was not just any marathon. This year, Paraguay is celebrating their Bicentenario, which is their 200th year of freedom from Spanish colonization. This marathon was a kickoff to the year’s festivities, which will culminate in May.
Danielle and I signed up, got our time chips and t-shirts, when we realized that the organizers wanted everyone to wear the t-shirts that they gave us. The color of the shirt determined the distance- 10k runners wore white, ½ marathoners wore blue, and full marathoners wore red. Those are the three colors of the Paraguayan flag, and we actually lined up for the start in the order of the flag: red, white, blue.
The race had over 3000 participants signed up, including many from different countries, as far away as Europe. Adidas, the main sponsor, and some of the other sponsors, had an entire weekend of festivities lined up for the out-of-towners.
When we arrived at the starting spot, we had to laugh. A guy in a chicken suit (one of the sponsors) was leading a jazzercise/Jane Fonda style warm-up for the runners. Personal (one of the main cell phone companies here) had their workers out in blue spandex uniforms passing out PowerAde vouchers. We got to the starting line, where the national anthem was sung and the President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, sounded the air horn for the start of the race.
Once the air horn started, about 3 minutes of firecrackers sounded off the start as well. Paraguayans, they love their noisemakers. The first 6K of the race was around the downtown region, and it was pretty amazing how neat the streets looked filled with red, white, and blue runners. It thinned out a bit as we kept going and soon we were heading out of the downtown region towards our apartment. It was pretty shocking to realize that we were running from the President’s house, downtown to past Danielle’s house, and back to downtown, and it was only a ½ marathon. It just shows you how compact and small Asuncion really is.
Jesse and Kagan (Danielle’s boyfriend) had their motos and traveled along the course to cheer us on, take pictures, and offer water. Danielle’s roommates also came out to cheer us on as well. We finished in a time of 2:13. Considering that we had each only ran one 10 mile run in preparation, and that our goal was to finish without walking, I am incredibly happy with our time. After the race, we went to Danielle’s house, where her roommates made a fantastic brunch for us to eat in celebration. Maybe next year at this time, we’ll be celebrating finishing our first full marathon?