El Encanto Presents – The San Juan Howler
For the third annual San Juan Howler Race we drew over 60 racers from at least a half dozen countries. From all over Central America and the United States and Canada they came, with racers all vying for a prize and if not, a heck of a good time. Believe me, by the end of the day (and night after a great send off party at the Blue Marlin in San Juan) there were happy faces all around.
This race was, for the first time, the last of the Nicaraguan series of competitive races throughout the country. This was the first year they added our race and showed how professionally the race was organized as well as how the quality of competitors has risen dramatically.
What a race! and, what a turnout!
The anticipation grew as all the racers lined up at 8 AM at the starting gate and boom, they were off in a crowded field that soon began to develop into a long string of riders as the tempo and difficulty of the ride developed.
The course began its true course as they entered El Encanto del Sur, one of the key sponsors of the race. They climbed hills, crossed rivers, sweated up long inclines, rode down breathtaking descents and finally, after reaching the top of El Encanto at over 1000 feet, did they begin the long ride home. Experts rode the course three times, next category two loops and the new riders rode one. I stayed above the fray, in my vaunted role as a sponsor, I was not required to kill myself, just drink beer, eat burgers and heartily congratulate the winners as they staggered in. Someone always has to do the dirty work, and I was chosen.
At one point I did help in offering water to dehydrated riders at the top and at another I encouraged those who had just come down a hairy descent that many of the wiser riders chose to walk. The trails had been hand carved by the Maestro of Trailing Building, Mr Bob “Bomber” Bombardier, another key sponsor. Will Pattison of GrupoMax personally led crews of workers as they fine tuned the course – and during the race he and Bob were constantly on the move looking for errant riders lost in the steep valleys and jungle. (most eventually located)
Of course the Producer of the Race was everywhere coordinating our moves like a conductor controls an orchestra. Though this may have been more like the Siberian Philharmonic, Larry Thraen of Bodhin Adventures, organized all elements of the race like the pro he is.
Behind the sidelines we had our translator, Ruth Obando, who speaks many tongues (some forked) busy with registration, T shirt sales and more. Her open smile and cash management expertise drew in racers – and tracked down every penny!
It was a beautiful day for San Juan and Nicaragua as well. The champion walked off with $500.00 in prize money and it was fitting, as the winner was from Nicaragua.
Big smiles throughout, donations to Fundacion Tierra and Communidad Connect – two wonderful non profits – very few injuries, and later, lots of good food and refreshing drink. A lot of Flora de Cana helps!
Next year, another competition, check our website www.sanjuanhowler.com for the actual dates and meanwhile to help as you ramp up your training, call up Lance. He’ll do a little coaching, but hesitant to enter such a challenging course, I understand. Stay Tuned and see you next year!