The Fringe show Elsewhere by Joy Anna presented this year 2017 in Montreal was featuring the current Venezuelan crisis. As the country was collapsing economically and socially, a sky-high inflation and a closure of many borders prevented its inhabitants from purchasing any basic goods. Most of them are in a state of advanced starvation, here, in America.
A sport performance can be as symbolic and impressive as an art performance. As a Canadian citizen far removed from the Venezuelan conflict, how can I help out? Runners can be example of strength, discipline, and endurance, but they can also use their mediatic image to raise awareness on issues that touches them in their personal values.
Also, there is a strong contrast between the lifestyle of a runner/athlete and the state of survival currently experienced by the average Venezuelan. The total absence of food versus the high-class nutriment-specific gummies and bars used during a run to maintain, for instance, the carbohydrates level, reveal an enormous gap in-between two humans touched by the same situation.
Running long distances goes beyond the body. It ties to the emotional and cognitive sides of the runner, to allow them to keep on running despite the harshness of the run on the body. I've been going home to my parents house by bike for years, from Montreal to Terrebonne. I have done this 25km road under the sun, rain, snow, feeling happy, angry, sad, lonely, excited, ... This itinerary is charged with memories and emotions. This is the one I chose for the run.
I found a platform for money donation to send food to Venezuela by Belsay Gonzalez (here) on GoFundMe.
Then, I planned out a 50km itinerary going to Terrebonne and coming back according to the places where my family and friends lived, so I could stop by and say hi. A series of facts on the Venezuelan situation would be seen on the running map to already start raising awareness to those planning the run. Real posters with the same facts would also be put up on road posts along the way according to their position on the map.
Planning runner-specific food for the 50km was also part of the performance. The menu was specific according to the moment in the run (before departure=more solid snacks, middle according to period of 30min of time in between intakes of portions, end with a little bit of caffeine with the gels and gummies) and the type of field or physical activity it would result (40km running, 10km biking). The shop Courir on St-Catherine was full of food supplies.
Training was essential for this and running has been part of my life for 11 years now. So I had to level my training to prepare for the run a few weeks (ideally months) before the run.
My friend Lydia accepted to be present as helper by bike during the run, transporting food, water, photo camera, timer, and posters for the run. She was so generous of her time and energy to make this 50km an organised and archived event. My roommate Caitlin prepared the arrival setting with the finish line and the icy bath.
The run went very well. The pace was slower than expected, mostly because of the work of diffusion and archiving we had to do at the same time. From 8:45am to 2:30pm, I ran the Starvation Run. The food and beverages supported me well and my spirits were high thanks to the presence of my friends. Many people followed us thanks to our Facebook live videos. The people we planned on meeting during the run were supportive and inspiring to see. A video on the run has been made.
Cooling down from the run after was made with a bath of icy water and an appointement with a massage therapist.