Guayaquil, Ecuador Marathon

Guayaquil, Ecuador
Guayaquil, Ecuador

 

Ecuador comes from “Equator” — the Earth’s middle meridian line that passes through this diverse South American country. The ocean is warm along the coast, the low lands are tropical rainforest on both sides of the Andes Mountains, with Amazon jungle on the expansive east side. Ran 26.2 in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city along the coastal south. Deep into a race — try to increase my pace by picking out and passing runners ahead. Past Mile 23, it was tough gaining ground on a short man with Incan features who ran like a machine. As I drew closer, there was a small sign pinned to the back of his shirt stating: “75 Anos.” 75 years old! This septuagenarian had the legs of a teenager and glowed with health and vitality. I thought of Americans I knew who had let themselves go, hiding behind the excuse of “I’m getting old,” to explain their weight gains, knee and hip replacements, and overall lack of life force and passion. Wish they could see Senor 75 Anos, I thought as I patted him on the back, then flicked both thumbs up. After crossing the finish line, laid-out on long tables were varied heaps of a runner’s favorite fuel — bananas, loaded with vitamins B & C and the mineral potassium. Ecuador is the world’s leading exporter of the nutritional tubes. My favorite was the smaller, finger-length red bananas, vine-ripened and at their peak with the skins a deep purple. The fruit hit the palate as sweet and flavorful as custard. Next day, explored coastal jungle festooned with a stunning array of rainbow-hued bromeliads and orchids. Ecuador has the greatest orchid diversity in the world, with over 3,700 species. Along a remote, purling stream, found a creature I had long been looking for — the Glass Frog. Its transparent underside revealed white bones, blue blood vessels, and a hypnotic beating heart.

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