M&MRC Cruce Story #11: Nothing’s going to stop us now

It’s quite a feeling running from one country to the other. In the middle of nowhere. With some weird energy that, after being so tired just hours previously, you have no idea where it comes from.

The sun was shining and Maria and I were on a roll. We were passing familiar flags and faces and there was definitely a lot more banter going on between everyone. The end was near and people could feel it in their hearts, in their minds, in their legs. The route had been cut by a few kilometres after the previous day’s never-ending 41km which had turned out to be a teeny tiny lie. 41 kilometres? joked those with GPS, powered by their superior knowledge. I heard someone say they had clocked over 46km. Whatever. It was far.

So here we were with our bodies being strangely satisfied by our running. We took a turn and ran over a bridge into a national park with some twisting paths through the forest. We waved at those lazing on the shore fishing, drinking mate, sunbathing. The sun beat down on us and through the trees the lake shimmered. We knew that when our path came to that body of water we were nearly home and dry.

It was interesting on the way to see a tactic that quite a lot of the mixed teams employed that day. Imagine: man in front with all the weight on his back and holding a pole behind him which, at the end of it, was the woman basically being pulled along to keep pace. You got the sense that not all the couples were doing it for pace and timing. Some people seriously needed to be pulled to the end.

I remember that as the path worked its way down towards the water and the small cabins dotted on the lake Maria and I were talking all the time. I remember some chat about a film, but can’t for the life of me remember any details because the overriding memory is one of joy and adrenalin. We hit the flats and started going for it, bouncing along the grass and the stones on the shore. The lake curved round to a point where it almost enclosed, but there was a short waterway which we would have to cross in canoe or boat.

We strode out, passing more familiar teams, feeling a surge of power and pride.

“You there?” “I’m here.” We bounded towards the line.

The finishing line for the timer chip wasn’t the true, glorious end. It clocked us in, and we jumped over it together. Home. People seemed a bit bewildered. What? Is that it? Have I done it? You have. Smile.

We then had to queue on that windy shore to get over to the other side of the lake and make our last steps to the finish. Unfortunately, the race organisers stopped the use of the canoes as it was really windy and they were inflatable. If we’d had to row, we would probably have ended up back in San Martín. So, we jumped into other boats and skimmed across the water to the woods on the other side.

And then it was time. Hearts were pounding. We had ignored all the negative talk we’d heard in the boat queue and were ready for our grand finale. M&MRC was coming home. We got our flags out, put our fleeces away and put our packs back on. There was a big, inflatable finish line to cross with cameras and claps and we were ready for it. I briefly though back to the first finish line on Day 1 and how it had taken forever. But now our legs needed no persuading.

We dipped through the trees and came to a clearing, where someone pointed us to the left and then we saw it. The field opened out and our triumph was metres away. We opened out our flags and took each other’s hands. Smiles spread on our faces and as the crowd saw us coming so the cheering and clapping started.

We will never forget those last 100 metres. It’s hard to forget the thousands before that; but the culmination of such physical and mental effort, the end of such an incredible experience and the success of our adventure were all written in the grins of our faces as we crossed the line. In the euphoria there were huge hugs, photos with the official photographers, photos with friends who had seen us cross, another interview with ESPN. There was the handing in of the timer chip, the receiving of our medals. There was meat and chorizo, there was sun and sitting on the grass. There was cheering and clapping for those that followed us over the line.

It’s always sad when something amazing comes to an end. But not when it’s an adventure that ticks all the boxes: friendship, beauty, nature, adversity, triumph. These adventures stay with you a lifetime; in the memories made and the things you learn about yourself and others.

On the way back to San Martín de los Andes all I could think about was the past four days and how they had fired up even more love in me: for this part of the world, for running and adventure and for my friend dozing next to me on the minibus. For there is no one else I could have crossed that finish line with. She is the Maria, the Mondonga, the Mad, the Marvellous of M&MRC. And if there is another finishing line like that one, no doubt she’ll be there again for More.

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About Laura Alonso

We run. We travel. And to combine both is a beautiful thing. "Runners just do it. They go for the finish line even though someone else has reached it first."

Posted on April 18, 2012, in Cruce Story and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Maria Pugliese

    Absolutely amazing! I got goosebumps and tears while reading this. It was an unbelievable adventure and can’t wait until the next one.

  2. Congrats again! You are both amazing. These posts have so many details that is like being there with you! Awesome. Besos M

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