sábado, 28 de abril de 2012

Raising Awareness in Phoenix, Arizona

               Guest Post by Matthew Maddix


Growing up in the Phoenix Metro Area there are a few things you learn at a young age to be certain: it’s incredibly hot in the summer, wear sunscreen, drink lots of water, and “Go Devils!” This latter bit of knowledge led me to, amongst other things, a University education, a degree in Engineering, and a lasting friendship with Christina, on behalf of whom I write this. 

I’m not sure how much the name Pat Tillman resonates outside of the state of Arizona, but here, especially in the Phoenix Metro area, it holds a place of reverence like few others. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story of Pat Tillman, I highly recommend you check out “Where Men Win Glory” by John Krakenaur. For the short version, Pat Tillman was the underdog everything that walked on to the American Football team at Arizona State University (home of the Sun Devils) only to become a starting linebacker on a Rose Bowl team to be drafted at the end of the NFL draft only to become a starting Safety in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals; and then the events of September 11, 2001 happened, and he gave up his entire life, along with his brother Kevin, to enlist in the Army and go fight the war in Afghanistan. In April of 2004, Pat was killed by friendly fire after a raid that was ordered from people thousands of miles away sitting at desks, despite the pleas and reluctance of Pat’s commanding officer to perform the maneuver (for more or on the specifics, I recommend the aforementioned book as well as the documentary “The Tillman Story”).

Every year on the third Saturday in April, thousands of people gather in Tempe, Arizona (home of Arizona State University and, during Pat’s time with the team, the Arizona Cardinals) to run/walk a 4.2 mile race throughout Tempe, culminating on the 42 yard line of Sun Devil Stadium.  The complete route is displayed below:

Pat's Run Route

This year, there were 28000 registrants and approximately 10000 spectators and volunteers. The numbers 4.2 and 42 are used in homage of the uniform number Pat wore whilst playing for the Sun Devils. 

The route traces the northern most parts of Tempe, but includes some of Pat’s favourite locations. The starting point is on Packard Drive, between Sun Devil Stadium and Packard Stadium (the baseball stadium, where Kevin Tillman played and Pat was a frequent visitor). Then, quickly on the way is Rio Salado Drive, a winding road with myriad views and buildings. At the corner of Rio Salado and Mill Ave, there is the old Flour Mill. One of Tempe’s oldest landmarks, it predates the city and state itself and was built by Charles T. Hayden, who was a prominent force in the foundation of Tempe. There is currently a legal battle raging about whether or not to repaint the Mill.

Hayden Flour Mill stands as a reminder of Tempe’s storied past and the influence it has today.
A pub just on the other side of the Mill, Rula Bula, was one of Pat’s favourite hangouts during his time in Tempe. To this day, his own, personal pint glass sits at the bar. Rula Bula partners with the Tillman Foundation to bring Pint’s For Pat wherein people may go and purchase a Guinness pint glass for 10$ with all proceeds going to the Tillman Foundation. Additionally, there is also a silent auction to raise funds for the Tillman Foundation. 

Back on the race route, to the right of the pubs, we turn down the legendary Mill Avenue and we begin to go over Mill Bridge.  On the left is Tempe Towne Lake and Tempe Beach Park. These hold numerous events throughout the year including concerts and races. Off in the distance, a handful of miles down the road is Downtown Phoenix.  To the right of the bridge is Tempe, and further in the distance, the neighbouring town of Mesa waits.

 Tempe Beach Park – Off in the distance, behind the train bridges, is downtown Phoenix.

 A view of Tempe Beach Park and Downtown Tempe behind it.

 Tempe Bridge ends the first mile of the route. The bridge was finished in finished in 1931.

After finishing up Mill Bridge, it’s off to go up the inclined Curry Road. From the top of Curry Road, the Phoenix Zoo is off to the left, Scottsdale in front, Phoenix behind, and Tempe to the right. Traversing Curry is the first major challenge in the race due to its steep incline. The reward, the gorgeous views of the nearby cities and zoo, is well worth the challenge. Once down Curry, the second mile marker is up and it’s time to wind back down toward the starting area. 

A right down College Ave winds up through gorgeous parks and condominium complex. Finally you come to a forced left turn at North Tempe’s major highway, the AZ-202. We traverse the winding road next to the 202 and wind up out on Rural Road, considered the main street in Tempe. To the north, in Scottsdale, it’s known as Scottsdale Road, but in Tempe, it’s known as Rural Road. The final daunting part of the route comes in the form of Rural Bridge, a slow, but steady incline that leads to mile marker three and the final water station. After completing Rural Bridge, it’s down Rural Road to Sixth Street. After turning right on Sixth Street, the ASU Athletics Stadiums, Wells Fargo Arena and Sun Devil Stadium, come into view. Down Sixth Street a bit takes us back toward the starting point, as we turn right up Packard Drive. A little ways up, a sharp left and a sharp right, positions us alongside part of the East Butte that surrounds Sun Devil Stadium. Along the butte, the fourth mile marker comes into sight as we round the Butte and head into the stadium.

After rounding the Butte, it’s up the ramp into the Stadium Tunnel, around to the left side, and down onto the field for a spectacular finish in front of thousands of spectators and fellow runners. The magical finish illustrates how one person can have a profound impact on so many people; many of whom, myself included, never met.

The finish line on the 42 yard line of Sun Devil Stadium. The number 42 represents Pat’s Jersey Number.
After 4.2 miles, one more thing is certain: Life is worth Running for.

  Life is worth Running for!

Thanks Matthew Maddix for supporting my cause !!! 


jueves, 1 de marzo de 2012

Raising Awareness in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Welcome to my hometown!

Aguadilla was founded in 1775 and has been known as La Villa del Ojo de Agua (village of the eye of water), as El Pueblo de los Tiburones (town of the sharks), and recently as El Nuevo Jardín del Atlántico (the new garden of the Atlantic). It has been the recipient of the "Best Quality of Life Award", given by the National Mayor Association, in 2002 and 2004 and it is best known to visitors for its beautiful beaches.
I was lucky enough to go home for Christmas break and do a running tour of the town with my family. It took me a while to piece it all together but here it is. I hope you enjoy the tour.
My run is outlined in the map below and was approximately a 10km run. I started by the Aguadilla Airport, running past what I call the Runner’s Tree, down to Wilderness Shore Break, to the Aguadilla Lighthouse Ruins, back up the hill and through the Punta Borinquen Golf Club, through the Ramey Base running track, past the University of Puerto Rico in Aguadilla, and finally ending my run at the famous Surfer Beach.   

Aguadilla was home of the Ramey Air Force Base between 1936 and 1973. After World War II, the Air Force significantly expanded the Ramey Air Force Base for its new role as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber base. In 1971, the Coast Guard relocated its aviation units from San Juan and established the "Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen", taking possession of an outstanding number of hangars from the Air Force in Aguadilla. Two years later the Ramey AFB was closed by the Air Force as an active Air Force Base, part of a post-Vietnam War reduction-in-force (RIF) and in the late 1970’s the base was given to the town of Aguadilla for its care. The only remaining active duty military personnel are the members of the U.S Coast Guard stationed at the Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen.  

The former Ramey Air Force Base flight-line is now operated as a general aviation airport, named Rafael Hernandez International Airport, considered one of the most active commercial airports on the island:

Across the street from the airport runway is a tree known by some as the Runners Spirit. This tree was planted by the family members of a runner who was struck and killed by lightning, on that very spot, while on one of his daily runs.  

Next stop, Wilderness Shore Break!

Aguadilla has the most numerous beaches of all other municipalities and its beaches are well known as world class surfing beaches. The town hosts a variety of amateur and professional surfing events every year and has hosted a variety of championships, including the ISA world championships in 1968 and 1988. Famous surfing spots in Aguadilla include "Surfer's Beach", "Table Tops", "Gas Chamber", "Las Ruinas", and "Survival".

Wilderness Shore Break is also a very good beach for surfing, and relaxing.

To the left of Wilderness Shore Break is The Ruins, Las Ruinas. This structure was officially known as the Borinquen Point Lighthouse, built in 1889 by the Spanish and has been designated a historic site worthy of preservation by the National Register of Historic Places. It was made of brick and had a tower with the light and a living area for the light-keeper. Like many of the lighthouses of its time, it was pretty elaborate in architectural details. However, in 1918, there was a major earthquake in the north-west that severely damaged the lighthouse beyond repair. It was abandoned, and a new concrete lighthouse was built in 1922 by the US Coast Guard in a different location — a little more to the north-east of Aguadilla.

What remained of the ruins was left to be further destroyed by time and vandals but the views through the hollow windows to the west, overlooking the ocean are breathtaking. It’s a popular spot for wedding and graduation pictures.

The path to get to and from the Ruins is through a golf course, so on my way back up from visiting the Ruins I took a couple of pictures of Punta Borinquen Golf Club as well:

This is the first public golf course in Puerto Rico. It’s a par 72 course set atop a cliff side promontory, offering a view of the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea.

Next stop was through the Ramey Base running track where I trained this past winter break with a former gold medal winning runner that represented Puerto Rico in several competitions.

Further along, I came across the University of Puerto Rico, a state university with a campus located in the city of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The University of Puerto Rico consists of 11 campuses that have recently faced what was named the 2010 – 2011 University of Puerto Rico Strike. This refers to the student strikes that began on April 21, 2010 as a 48-hour walk-out at the Rio Piedras campus and which quickly grew in size and support to 9 of the other campuses, to the point where some of the campuses were closed for up to 60 days. The students were opposed to tuition fee increases and demanded guarantees that campuses would not be privatized. When the administration refused to talk and negotiate with students an indefinite strike began that eventually died out in May 2011. Rumors persist of further strikes at the University of Puerto Rico.

 My run finally concluded at the Surfer’s Beach:

This beach is one of the most popular surf spots in the area. Local boys Jose Rodriguez, Guille Bermuda and Rafy Viella are credited as being the first to surf the north and northwest coasts but it was the 1968 World Surfing Championships that really put Puerto Rico on the surfing map, quickly earning the title of the "Hawaii of the Atlantic". The first Puerto Rican surfer to make a name for himself was Jorge Machuca, a 14-year-old in the '68 World Champs. Edwin Santos, Alberto Licha, and Juan Ashton were well known Puerto Rico competitors through the '70s and '80s. Today, there are another dozen or so sponsored and/or internationally known surfers, including Pipe chargers Carlos Cabrero and Otto Flores, and world traveling competitors Brian Toth and Dylan Graves.

As my run concludes, I want to thank all my supporters that are following my daily training on Twitter! And most importantly I want to give thanks to my siblings Laura Robert (running partner) and Carlos A. Robert (photographer), and my parents Maria del Carmen Rivera and Carlos Robert for completing this route with me and helping me out with the pictures.

Teen suicide is a reality for many families. Help prevent it. DONATIONS: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/christinaclancey/running4awareness

If you have enjoyed my blog and believe in my cause, please help me meet my goal of raising $3000 to support treatment and recovery for people suffering depression, addiction, self- injury and considering suicide by clicking on the link above. Donations made to my cause go directly to the non-profit organization 'To Write Love on Her Arms'. To view the finances of this organization, go to: http://www.twloha.com/finances/.

And don't forget to visit the Race4Awareness page and tell us if you are aware about Suicide.
The historical information for this blog was a compilation of information from a handful of websites including: http://www.topuertorico.org/city/aguadilla.shtml, http://www.surfline.com/travel/index.cfm?id=2726 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_University_of_Puerto_Rico_Strike which you can check out for more information.

domingo, 29 de enero de 2012

Raising Awareness in Alcala de Henares

This month’s running tour will be of the World Heritage City (UNESCO) of Alcala de Henares, one of Europe's most ancient university towns and known for being the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. It is located about 30kms from Madrid. I chose Alcala de Henares because it’s a town I know fairly well since it is where I lived all of last year while I was working on completing my masters degree at Universidad de Alcala de Henares. It is also a town with a very unique cultural life that I hope you can enjoy through my blog!
My run is outlined in the map to the right and was approximately a 5km run. I started at the Cercanias-Renfe Railway Station, passed through Plaza de Cervantes, Colegio Mayor de San Ildefonso, Calle Mayor, Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes, the Cathedral of los Santos Niños Justo y Pastor de Alcalá de Henares, Puerta de Madrid, Palacio Arzobispal, Museo de Arqueología, Palacete Laredo (Centro Internacional de Estudios Históricos Cisneros), and finally back at the train station.
I usually take the Cercanias Railway Station from Atocha to go to the University of Alcala on weekdays but if you take it on a weekend between April and December you could enjoy a trip on the “Cervantes Train”, where people dressed in Golden Age costumes provide delicious and typical food of the city. The picture below is not a picture from my run but about a year ago I had the opportunity to run into Don Quijote and Sancho Panza  as they were on their way to Alcala de Henares and the performance is really quite impressive.
As I left the train station I made my way down to Calle de Libreros where Cervantes’s first published work, La Galatea, was printed. This street takes me straight to Plaza de Cervantes:
The Cervantes Square is the core of the city and was originally known as a Market Square used for the weekly market, bullfightings and important public festivals. In the middle of the square there is a monument to Cervantes created by Carlo Nicoli in 1879.
Halfway down the Cervantes Square I turned left towards Plaza de San Diego to admire the magnificent 16th century plateresque façade of the Colegio Mayor de San Ildefonso (University of Alcala)  

Under Cardinal Cisneros, this school was granted full university status in 1499, which makes it one of the oldest universities in the world, and was originally named "Universitas Complutensis". Five faculties were then established: Arts and Philosophy, Theology, Canon Law, Philology and Medicine. In 1836, the University was moved to Madrid, and some of the buildings of the former Alcala campus fell into disrepair. The impact of the move on the city of Alcala de Henares was very deeply felt: the population went from about 60,000 people to about 10,000 by 1900. In 1977, the University was reopened in its same historical buildings. The University of Alcalá is especially renowned in the Spanish-speaking world for its annual presentation of the highly prestigious Cervantes Prize, which is awarded annually by the King and Queen of Spain in the Paraninfo (Great Hall).
I circled around Plaza de San Diego and back out to Plaza de Cervantes where I made my way around to Calle Mayor:
Calle Mayor connects the Plaza de Cervantes with the Plaza de los Santos Niños, where you'll find the Cathedral of Alcala. It used to run through a Jewish neighborhood and for a while it was the city's most important commercial strip. Today, you'll still find different shops and restaurants on both sides of the street, but stands out the most about Calle Mayor is the beautiful architecture, thanks to the numerous half-timbered houses and flowery balconies. Another interesting aspect of the houses on Calle Mayor, as you can see from the picture on the left, is that the water pipes are decorated at the tip with a design of a dragon head.  

As I ran down Calle Mayor, right in front of the Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes, I came across the statue of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza:

The statue welcomes you to sit and take a picture with them!!! It is a MUST take picture if you ever visit Alcala de Henares. It's a masterpiece from Pedro Requejo, placed in Alcala on April 24, 2005 as part of the "Actos conmemorativos del cuarto centenario de la edición del Quijote".

Behind the statue is the Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes:

It is an old 16th century house that belongs to Cervantes's family and is claimed to be where Cervantes was born in 1547. The museum was founded in his honor and recreates a house of that time, furnished with genuine sixteenth-century objects and contains a small museum with a few early editions of Don Quixote and other curiosities related to the author. 
As I continued down Calle Mayor I made it to the Plaza de los Santos Niños where I came across with the Cathedral of Los Santos Niños Justo y Pastor de Alcalá de Henares

The Cathedral is located next to the Santos Niños Square and was built on the site where the children from Alcalá, Justo and Pastor, were said to have been martyred. Justus, 13 years old, and Pastor, less than 9 years old, were two schoolboys who were killed for their faith during the persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. It is also the only Gothic-style cathedral that can be seen in the entire Comunidad de Madrid. 

Just a few meters ahead was the Puerta de Madrid:

La Puerta de Madrid was built in 1788 under the orders of the Archbishop of Toledo to replace an old gate from the walled area. As well as the Puerta de Alcalá, mentioned in my previous blog, this gate is a neo-classical monument built in stone which connects the city of Alcalá de Henares with the city of Madrid.  

Next stop was at Palacio Arzobispal:

The Toledo Archbishop Palace and the Walled Area were created as a defensive fortress in the 14th century that surrounded the city. This is the place where Katherine of Argon, the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and mother of Queen Mary I, was born in December 1485. Also, the Palacio Arzobispal is where Christopher Columbus first met with the King and Queen of Spain, in 1486, to convince them he could reach Asia by sailing around the world. 

The next stop was in front of Museo de Arqueología:

The museum is situated in the former Convent-College de Dominicos de la Madre de Dios which was built at the end of the 17th century. It is composed of the most important archaeological remains of the Community of Madrid. The Roman mosaics are especially well-known because they come from Alcala.

On my way back to the train station I passed by a modern statue of Don Quijote that is on one of the roundabouts of the town, as well as, a quaint little house surrounded by tall apartment buldings that doesnt quite seem to fit in but worth a picture:

I also passed by Palacio Laredo:

And finally a picture of the monument dedicated to the vistims of the 11M - March 2004 Madrid Bombings:
During the peak of Madrid rush hour on the morning of Thursday, 11 March 2004, ten explosions occurred aboard four commuter trains (cercanías). The date led to the popular abbreviation of the incident as “11-M”. All the affected trains were traveling on the same line and in the same direction between Alcalá de Henares and the Atocha station in Madrid.
The attack occurred on the morning of 11 March 2004, three days before Spain's general elections. The explosions killed 191 people and wounded 1,800. The attacks are believed to be directed by an al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist.

The very last stop was back at the Cercanias-Renfe Railway Station to head back home to Madrid:

And this concludes my running tour of the city of Alcala de Henares! The historical information for this blog was a compilation of information from a handful of websites including: http://www.virtualtourist.com/ and http://sig3.ecanews.org/aperbeg2011/guide.pdf which you can check out for more information.

Thanks to all my supporters that are following my training on Twitter! Thanks to Fernando Herranz and Angelica Valderrama for completing this route with me and helping me out with the pictures. And thanks to Chris McCoy my running partner throughout the month:

If you have enjoyed my blog and believe in my cause, please help me meet my goal of raising $3000 by clicking on the link above. Donations made to my cause go directly to the non-profit organization 'To Write Love on Her Arms'. The money rasied through this organization is used to support treatment and recovery for people suffering depression, addiction, self injury and considering suicide as well as to create events and awareness. Their finances can be viewed at: http://www.twloha.com/finances/.

And most importantly . . . Don't forget to visit the Race4Awareness page and tell us if you are aware about Suicide.

Tommy I lit a candle for you at the Alcala de Henares Cathedral. Your family is always praying for you. Miss you!