We were led to a large waiting area; complete with shops and coffee stands. A small room to smoke, PlayStation3 Kiosks, a VIP lounge, and large windows looking onto the runway.
We’re all waiting.
They’ve announced countless times that our official gate will not be revealed until 25 minutes before departure.
So I’ve busied myself with returning emails; texting with family; and people watching.
As I began writing this post, six tiny, towheaded Ukranian girls began to play next to me. They giggled and danced unabashedly until a voice called to one of them, “Shura…Shura edee suda!” (My best phonetic Ukrainan and the meaning….”Shura come here.”) It brought an instant smile to my face as I was again reminded of sweet Shura from the orphanage in Pereaslav. (I wrote about her in my New Year’s post). I miss that precious soul.
I decided to pause writing for a bit and stretch my legs. Just hearing Shura’s name turned my mind toward a pensive mindset.
“Why are you here Sally? Remember why you’re here.”
I walked through the shops and watched travelers shuffle up and down the walkways; the sound of their bustling was like an old friend, we’re all going somewhere. I’m on my way to race the SciaccheTrail Race in Cinque Terre, Italy, this will be my second time competing in this event. And while I’m beyond thrilled to race on those beautiful trails once again, I am equally anticipating my time with the people who call the Cinque Terre their home, especially Nicola and Christine, the race directors who bravely took a chance at creating this race.
I met Nicola and Christine for the first time last year and we made an immediate connection; they treated me like family, even inviting me to their parents home for a delicious homemade italian dinner.
Christine, who is originally from Minnesota; traveled to Italy years ago and unexpectedly fell in love with Nicola; got married and has called the CinqueTerre home ever since. Nicola and Christine are gentle souls; they dream big, and are fiercely dedicated to what they love. And the proof is seen in their little trekking store in Manorola, Cinque Terre Trekking. The exterior is decorated with handmade wooden signs crafted by Nicola and the heart of the store is run by Christine- her kindness invites people in and it’s quickly become an attraction for any hiker or trail-runner passing through the CT.
The SciaccheTrail Race is no different. A few years ago Nicola and Christine dreamed of creating a race that would allow runners to race through all 5 terraces; a 30 mile, 11,000 feet of climbing event that would not only expose the awesome beauty of the land, but more importantly unite the people. They encountered challenges along the way, but never stopped pursuing their dream. I had the privilege of shadowing them in the days preceding last year’s race. And what I witnessed was nothing short of pure hard work; and the new challenges that popped up just hours before the race, made me question, “Why do you put yourself through this? Why are you here?”
And despite their lack of sleep and stress, they would smile. It was worth it.
And now, in it’s second year, the race has quickly become a beloved event that has united the five cities which make up the CinqueTerre. Participants are showered with unique gifts before and after the race, ranging from handmade jewlery, wine, homemade sauces, and sweatshirts. And the post-race feast is one to write home about, featuring homemade lasagna, pastas, and decadent desserts. This event may easily be seen as a celebration of the land and it’s rich history- a tireless work of passion created by two dreamers who loved their land and wanted to tell the world about it.
And it’s stories like these that keep me passionate about running. I’m drawn to people who are passionate about life; who live purposely; and who work tirelessly for the good of others. I have great admiration for Nicola and Christine and I see running in their race as a great honor.
And so I answer my question from earlier, Why are you here Sally?
I’m here because I love running; I love racing! And within that love, dare I ever miss a chance to reflect with gratefulness all the wonderful oppportunities, connections, and growth that has come from it. So thank you Nicola and Christine for sharing your passion with all of us; it’s my hope that many others will get to experience first-hand what you have created; and thank you for all your hard work and dedication, for it has allowed me to live out what I so passionately love too!
See you soon!