Douglas Evan Weiss

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Running a marathon for The Bali Hope Challenge 2020

As part of the Bali Hope Challenge, and in conjunction with the 2020 Bali Ultra Race, I will run an unsupported marathon here in Marbella, Costa Rica, to raise money for The Bali Children’s Foundation.


In 2010 I went to Bali and quickly fell in love with that magical island. For the past ten years I have evenly divided my time between Bali and Costa Rica. Both these countries offer profound lifestyle opportunities, beautiful people, and genuinely positive vibrations.


Bali is special. Anyone who has spent time there can attest to this.  The nature, the people, and the attitude can be exceptionally welcoming.  For many years I have been fortunate enough to call Bali home, and to have made lifelong friends there.


In 2020, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Bali has fallen upon hard times.  A predominately tourist based economy has ground to a stunning halt.  Businesses in Bali have been profoundly affected, and their entrepreneurs and employees and related families are experiencing great financial insecurity due to this pandemic.


The Bali Hope Challenge is providing crucial support to The Bali Children’s Foundation (BCF).  The BCF are busy supporting families and communities hit hard by this crisis.  By participating in this challenge, I hope to raise money for The Bali Children’s Foundation, and give back to the island that has given me so much.


You can help also.  By supporting my marathon effort here in Costa Rica on November 29, we can all make a difference.  When you are needing, every little bit helps.


Please assist me in reaching my fundraising goals.  By connecting to the provided link and donating whatever you can, we can all help the families in Bali, whether we be near or far away from the island.


I truly appreciate your support, and so does Bali.  


Thank You.


Douglas Evan Weiss

My Updates

We did it!

Thursday 19th Nov
We did it!

On Sunday we ran a self supported ultra marathon for The Bali Hope Challenge and The Bali Children Foundation.

That was super fun, obviously transformative, and relentlessly difficult.

We ran 46km, 1136 meters of elevation gain, in 11 hours and 23 minutes.  98% of the run was on off road, single track trails.  

We had good weather, with only a bit of rain.  The trail was very muddy in sections, but passable.  We set up an aid station in the parking lot, with water and snacks.  The route was a 12km loop, up one side of a mountain and down the other.  The trail was empty, lush and well maintained.

An amazing experience for us.  Thank you for all your support and inspiration.  We have all come together in an active and positive way to assist children in the Bali community, who are currently in need.  

I’m super proud of us all.  More to come!

Thank you!  Much love.

Douglas and Irena

Trail Challenge 21km

Monday 9th Nov

We ran the Trail Run Challenge 21km last weekend.


After months of training and decisions we participated in the annual Trail Run Challenge in Rincon De La Vieja National Park.  It was beautiful.


My partner and I signed up for the 21k option two months ago, after I randomly viewed an Instagram post advertising the event.  The challenge seemed like a great way to test ourselves, and to see some new terrain in Costa Rica.


We were not disappointed.


The event is held on the grounds of the Hacienda Guachipelin Hotel and Resort, which is located in Northern Costa Rica, on 5000 acres of land, most of which is a preserve that borders the greater Rincon De La Vieja National Park next door.  


The Hacienda Guachipelin has a very well preserved network of trails that circumvent the main hub of buildings that house the rooms and restaurant.  Usually these trails are used by mountain bikers, as the Hacienda has a well advertised program for bikers and offers rentals and tours.  


But for the past few years The Running Shop in San Jose have been hosting an annual trail run challenge at the Hacienda.  Usually the event hosts some 1200 runners from all over the world.  But in 2020, due to Covid, the event was re organized in order to abide by the necessary safety precautions that the country now requires.  There were fewer runners on hand, and the challenge was broken up over the course of 5 weekends, with a limited number of runners on each day, yet the scenery and the trails remained the same, and the event organizers and the hotel did a marvelous job of staging this fun event.


The trails were super nice.  Classic single track through a variety of gorgeous terrain.  Very lush jungle topography yet pleasantly diverse, from technical rock crossings to smooth dirt tracks to fire roads and a small amount of pavement.  The route is engaging - a constant cruise, gradually gaining and losing elevation.  The steady variety of terrain and elevation lent for an exciting run.  We were never bored or complacent, continually intrigued by the trails and engaging course.  


We arrived at The Hacienda the evening before the Challenge and spent a lovely few hours in the natural volcanic hot springs, completely mellowed out and calm.  The pools varied in temperature, one as hot as 48 degrees Celsius.  This was a perfect introduction to the area, and a fabulous way to rest the body and mind before the long, unknown day ahead.


We stumbled back up the trail to our truck, blissed out and floating along the jungle path that connects the hot springs with the main road.  Our bodies were ready for food and sleep.  We ate pasta and pataconnes in the hotel restaurant and were to bed early.  I was anxious, as this was my first 21k, and neither of us are familiar with the route or area.  My partner was more even keeled about the impending event (as always), confident that we would have fun and complete the course.


It rained all evening, and straight through the night.  In the morning we awoke to a soft yet persistent rain.  The trails would surely be muddy.  We put on our rain jackets, packed a bag with water and gels, laced up our shoes, and headed up the road to the starting tent.


Due to Covid the event organizers chose to stagger the start times, to avoid crowding and maintain distancing.  We arrived at the start tent with 4 other people.  A group fo 3 were the first to leave.  We received a brief description of the course in Spanish, informed of this start and finish point; that the trails were certainly wet but fun, and to be careful crossing the rivers.  


We left our over sized room key at the station, thanked the very kind people signing us in, then turned and started walking up the road, early in the morning with a gentle rain falling and clouds thick in the sky.


We had a wonderful time.  We started slow, walked the hills, ran the flats, were careful on the tricky downhills, crossed the rivers with care, and were generally exuberant to be out in nature and running a different route then the usual roads and trails that we have been exploring for months around our small neighborhood.  These were real single track trails, with no cars or people or dogs.  The sky was grey but the weather was cool and pleasant.  We removed our rain jackets early and kept a steady pace.


There were aid stations every 5-6 kilometers, which was perfect.  We were happy to see a smiling face at the tables and to stock up on Gatorade and mini Snickers bars.  My partner led the whole run and kept an enjoyable pace for us.  While we were surely pushing ourselves over the kilometers, we never felt broken or in danger of not finishing.  Actually, we were both quite surprised at how strong we felt at the end.  Tired and wet, but enthusiastic.


There was a lot of mud.  We were cautious across the muddy trail sections, and often inadvertently sank our entire sneakers in the mud pools that crossed the whole trail, unable to avoid the impressive sections of earth and water.  


The river crossings were fun, for me at least.  There was a small rope attached at each end, so we could balance ourselves against the rushing river currents, and safely negotiate the rocky passage, crossing soused but smiling.  I think the river crossings were my favorite part.  Full on adventure trail running.


Fortunately the trails were very well marked, and the anxiety of getting lost was not with us.  The organizers did a marvelous job of cleaning the trails and marking the route.  We were so impressed through out by their management of the event.  The aid stations were friendly and well stocked, so we sped along calmly, enjoying our time in nature and with each other, attempting to accomplish our first official trail challenge, and our first 21k.


We did it.  At the finish there were no crowds or fanfare, just a small family waiting for their dad to finish.  They generously cheered us on as we rounded the final corner and onto the last stretch of pavement that led to the same aid station tent we started from.


The same station host was there, 4 hours and 23 minutes later.  He signed us out, offered his congratulations, supplied us with a final Gatorade, and returned my room key.  I believe that my partner and I were greatly relieved and surprised at our steady pace along what, for us, was a difficult and challenging trail.  


We returned to the hotel room muddy and hungry but content.  Our socks were wet, sneakers destroyed, and feet impressively pruned and pale.  I quickly ordered us food and stretched out on the cool tile floor.  That hot shower was memorable.  In the early afternoon we lay in bed watching a movie and eating pizza and quesadillas, before checking out of our room and driving back home. 


We are excited to continue our training towards a marathon in mid November to support The Bali Hope Challenge.  We are learning a lot and remaining patient.  In this game it seems that progress is slow and time is necessary. 


Thank you to The Hacienda Guachipilen and The Running Store for hosting such a safe and great event.  We are already excited to return soon!


Positive Rumination's Upon A Long Descent

Friday 16th Oct

‘Just stay positive.’

This simple mantra arrives as we are descending from the mountains behind my little town here in Costa Rica.  The trail is steep and rocky in sections, with lots of loose gravel and dry dirt.  There are healthy patches of mud and some lingering shade from the surrounding Palm and Guanacaste trees.  The trail is a wide fire road of sorts, that leads to a narrower upper ridge line trail.  The view from the ridge is expansive and over looks our small town, then scopes out towards the beach, and the mighty Pacific Ocean beyond.


I am always slow on the decent.  My partner tells me to just let go, and move freely down hill, but I cannot.  My muscles cinch up as my legs are highly restrained.  I decelerate against the angled slope, and move even slower and more guarded down the steep jungle hills.


‘Just be positive and stay motivated,’ I tell myself, unhurriedly closer to the base of the hill portion of our route.


We have a few routes that we run locally here in Costa Rica, creatively linking together roads and trails to design a small network of absorbing trail runs. 


Often we like to launch from the beach.  We park the car and run a variety of loops, or winding out and back trails.  All the roads around here are dirt, rock and mud, so everything feels like a trail.  The beach road is a long coalition of deep holes and tiny streams.  


The trails that ascend up into the mountains tend to be much dryer this time of year, as the sun seems to hit them first, and rainwater from the previous evening quickly runs off into the many streams and rivers that snake towards the coast, and eventually empty into the impressive Pacific Ocean.


October is traditionally the heaviest month of the rainy season here in Costa Rica.  After four months of periodic yet daily rain, the season culminates in a grand October symphony, a damp finale before six months of arid air and uninterrupted sunshine.


My partner and I only started running again in April.  We both spent time running earlier in our respective lives, but have pursued other practices outside of the endurance area for the past decade.  In March when Costa Rica went into lockdown, and the beaches were closed, we would often walk along a narrow beach trail close to our house, and deeply appreciate the space and isolation provided us, while the world was quickly coming to terms with the sudden realities of Covid-19.  


A short while later we started trail running again.  We began slow, experiencing horrible pain initially, and we could barely run for even inconsiderable minutes, as we tried jogging along the flat beach road.  


My thighs ached horribly in the beginning.  Simply walking was a painful chore, as I limped around like an old man, struggling with stairs, and constantly groaning.  My partner injured her knee early on -  an unfortunate set back, yet a sharp reminder of how running too much in the beginning can provoke demoralizing troubles.


But we stuck with it. 


I found two running stores in the  capital city of San Jose (shout out to Runners CR and The Running Shop), far away from our rural town, but they have generously delivered shoes and equipment to us out here in the country.  They have been so helpful!  


We have curated a running schedule that is consistent yet does not propose risk of over training.  We have discovered the beautiful hills and trails around our little jungle town here.  We have created various routes, through a variety of terrain, to keep our runs interesting and challenging.  We have re discovered electrolytes (OMG Tailwind), and I fawn over water bottles and hydration vests online.  We walk the hills, run the flats, and talk steadily, communicating our daily hopes and complications.


Most of the time we are simply having fun.


‘This is all so positive,’ I tell myself.  ‘Just do this.’


In early October I signed up for The Bali Hope Challenge.  My partner and I have lived in Bali for many years, though now we find ourself in Costa Rica, surrendering to this new chapter in our lives together.  Even though we are on the other side of the world, we still feel very connected to our home in Bali, and regularly we discuss this pandemic situation in Indonesia; about our friends, our work, and our island.  


This Bali Hope Challenge has presented us with a renewed way to connect and aid the magical island of Bali.  By leveraging our abilities, and the time that we have, we can surely bring positive and tangible benefits to the lives of those less economically fortunate then us.


‘Just be a positive force for good,’ I tell myself.  


As we amble closer to the base of our mountain trail, the sun gets stronger as the morning quickly wares on.  My partner is always faster then me, and I watch her glide around a curve and into the flats ahead.  We are so fortunate to be out here in the clean open air, moving through this fertile nature, peaceful and free, strong and able.  Our movements are small choices, our miles slowly add up, as we take a sharp turn over the bridge, into town, then back up the beach road towards our destination.  


These glorious morning runs, the accumulative efforts that we make.




  


 

Team Unicorn

Monday 12th Oct




Team Unicorn was formed in 2019, when Irena Bartolec, Frida Bartolec and myself explored the Himalaya mountains, from the Nepal side.


The plan was to fly from Bali to Katmandu, where we assembled all the necessary supplies for the expedition.  From Katmandu we traveled by car to the lakeside town of Pokhara.  After a short stay by the lake, we met up with our guide and porter, our trusty friends and local professionals, and began our attempt at Annapurna.


We trekked for 10 days, along the foothills of the Himalaya mountain range, acclimating properly, before venturing up the valley, slowly gaining in altitude, until we eventually secured our spot at Annapurna Base Camp.


Base Camp sits at 4,130 meters, in the long shadow of Annapurna peak, a daunting and hugely intimidating peak.  A treacherous glacier, relatively narrow along the valley floor, though dangerous with seracs that look like razor blades, separates Base Camp from the base of Annapurna proper.  


Base Camp is a very informal affair.  A small collection of unheated rooms, with a single dining hall and kitchen.  It was very cold in the evening, and sleep was impossible for us at that altitude.  We had not showered in 5 days, and spent a long evening under down jackets and sleeping bags, drinking hot, spicy noodle soup and playing high altitude poker.


The Himalayas are immense.  The trek was long and arduous.  Frida is seven years old.  We believe she is the youngest Westerner to reach the Annapurna Base Camp via trekking.  As members of Team Unicorn we worked together everyday and night to reach our goal of Base Camp.  At different times during the journey all our team members became physically ill, and were often exhausted, both mentally and physically.  But as with any team, we rallied around each other when necessary, ensuring that we reached the top of that long trail, and were rewarded with a rare and powerful view of those immensely grand mountains.



This year,  2020, we have cancelled our plans for Nepal, due to the Corona virus.  Like so many teams around the world, our projects and ambitions have shifted.  Instead of being in our Bali home, which is usual for this time of year, we have been grounded in Costa Rica since February.  We miss our friends in Bali, and are grateful that we can connect and give back to our island home via The Bali Hope Challenge.


In November, in conjunction with the Bali Hope Ultra Race, Team Unicorn will design and run a marathon in our small town of Marbella, here in Costa Rica.  Our team members shall each contribute in their respective ways to insure that this event is staged successfully.  


This will be our first marathon, and though the geographical landscapes for our team continue to shift due to these Corona times, we are committed to giving back to the Island of the Gods that we adore via this challenge.


As always we greatly appreciate the support we received via our fundraising efforts.  You can donate on our Team page linked below:


https://fundraise.bali-hope.com/fundraisers/TeamUnicornforBali


Team Unicorn love these adventures, and feel blessed that we can help others by doing what we love.  Thank you to Bali Hope, The Bali Children’s Foundation, our supporters and sponsors.  



All love.


Douglas Evan Weiss

Irena Bartolec

Frida Bartolec


Team Unicorn






running a marathon for The Bali Hope Challenge 2020

Sunday 11th Oct



As part of the Bali Hope Challenge, and in conjunction with the 2020 Bali Ultra Race, I will run an unsupported marathon here in Marbella, Costa Rica, to raise money for The Bali Children’s Foundation.


In 2010 I went to Bali and quickly fell in love with that magical island. For the past ten years I have evenly divided my time between Bali and Costa Rica. Both these countries offer profound lifestyle opportunities, beautiful people, and genuinely positive vibrations.


Bali is special. Anyone who has spent time there can attest to this.  The nature, the people, and the attitude can be exceptionally welcoming.  For many years I have been fortunate enough to call Bali home, and to have made lifelong friends there.


In 2020, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Bali has fallen upon hard times.  A predominately tourist based economy has ground to a stunning halt.  Businesses in Bali have been profoundly affected, and their entrepreneurs and employees and related families are experiencing great financial insecurity due to this pandemic.


The Bali Hope Challenge is provides crucial support to The Bali Children’s Foundation (BCF).  The BCF are busy supporting families and communities hit hard by this crisis.  By participating in this challenge, I hope to raise money for The Bali Children’s Foundation, and give back to the island that has given me so much.


You can help also.  By supporting my marathon effort here in Costa Rica on November 29, we can all make a difference.  When you are needing, every little bit helps.


Please assist me in reaching my fundraising goals.  By connecting to the provided link and donating whatever you can, we can all help the families in Bali, whether we be near or far away from the island.


I truly appreciate your support, and so does Bali.  


Thank You.


Douglas Evan Weiss








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