Winning the North Face Endurance Challenge

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North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon, Sandra Bonilla

My name is Sandra Bonilla and I am from Costa Rica. I moved to the United States about 4 years ago, but have been running all my life. Ever since I was a child, I have run short distance races, half marathons, and marathons. I love to run.

I ran the Baltimore Marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2009 and ran it the same year. I have also run the NCR Trail Marathon twice, both with successive better times and very good results. After each of these races my hips were always tight. I was also in pain because my fascia lata and my hamstrings were very tight.

On June 2, 2012 I ran The North Face Endurance Challenge, a trail race. I started training for this race three and a half months leading up to it, after taking the ChiRunning workshop in Washington D.C with Danny Dreyer, the author of ChiRunning. I always trained by following the directions of the ChiRunning Marathon Book.

The North Face Endurance Challenge held in Great Falls, Virginia, was not an easy race. The course conditions were horrible due to the Mid-Atlantic being hit by a line of storms the night before that brought tornadoes, wind, and torrential rain. The storm started at 2:30pm Friday afternoon and did not clear until 3am Saturday morning—the day of the race! The course was saturated with water and very muddy.

Spectators of the race could only see the racers at the beginning and in the last 1/2 mile of the course. The rest of the race was in the wild. Therefore, the audience could not see what the storms did to the course the night before. The storm added fallen trees and added deep, swampy mud to every step of the race… both on the flat parts of the course and in the hills.

In order to get through the race with tact, I engaged my core muscles and was able to dance over the mud, passing every single person in front of me. I focused on my nephews, my friend Doreen, my family, and my husband. All these people are amazing fighters I know. They were my inspiration.

The last two miles of the race I felt the need for water. I did not have anymore water in the bottle I brought with me. I had to walk because my need for water became so great and because I knew an aid station was just in front of me. When I started walking I became disappointed, but then I told myself, “The race is not over because you are walking!” After getting water in my body, I started walking faster and faster until I was able to run again all the way to the finish line!

Later I found out that Wow!! I had won the race! I was the first woman to cross the line in my age group and in the general category! We made it, God!!

Today, Sunday Jun 3, 2012, my legs are tired but that is all. I don’t feel pain in my hips, knees or ankles. I completed the race in 4h.35min running with a distance of 28 or 29 miles.
I am happy about it.

Thank you, Danny, for showing me how to use my Latino skills (my hips)!


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