The Bromo Marathon started as a seed of an idea that sprouted roots in Shane’s daily runs with his cross country team. I remember talking to him on the phone last July in the U.S. hearing the idea and thinking how cute a little charity race up in the mountains would be.
13 months later, The Bromo Marathon could not be something that could be described as cute or little; but incredible and huge. It attracted over 900 participants registering from 30 countries, 2 professional actors and a film production crew, completely booking every homestay within a 10 mile radius, and prompting food stalls to spring up from the ground to feed hungry runners traditional Tengger cuisine. It’s easily the biggest running event to ever have happened in this region, well maybe, a volcanic eruption or two over the course of history had set people running before in the area, but besides that. The remote Tengger region transformed overnight from a necessary stop for the occasional tourist on their way to Mount Bromo to a hotspot for cultural exchange and economic stimulation.
The race has been described by participants as “The most challenging marathon ever, but also the most beautiful” Starting in the rather remote Wonokitri Village in the Pasuruan district, the race featured mountain roads, dirt trails and spectacular views of the mountain scenery, Hindu shrines, farmland, and Tenggerese life. School children lined up along the race course in their villages to wave and smile at the marathon, half marathon and 10k participants as they huffed and puffed their way on; braving the altitude and elevation changes of the area.
The runners were drawn deeper and deeper into the mountainous terrain as pavement melted away into dirt pathways and sounds of traffic faded into the serene sound of wind blowing through pine trees and tall grass framing a breathtaking view of Mount Bromo and the surrounding smoking volcanic craters. The course then looped around and brought accomplished runners across the finish line back in Wonokitri Village to be greeted by cheering friends, family and villagers to be awarded a medal of accomplishment for overcoming their amazing physical feat. Afterwards, some runners chose to delight in Bromo National park where they could climb the volcanic crater, ride a horse through the sea of sands and visit a large Hindu Temple.
The full amount of the proceeds from the Bromo Marathon and book donations are being used to improve school libraries in the under privileged and remote villages of Wonokirti, Tosari, Ngadiwono and others in the Tengger region. Promoting education and literacy is key in this rural farming region for the improvement of the lives of the youth; providing the gateway to career opportunities beyond the agriculture industry.
As a 100% volunteer based production, no professional photographers were hired, but the participants have an amazing collection of photos from event producing an impressive gallery from the #bromomarathon. And event sponsor: Garmin Indonesia offers a nice collection on their facebook page. I personally spent several hours marveling at the snapshots, stories and smiles of the runners and volunteers.
Also, if you happen to be in Indonesia, keep an eye out for the film Mari Lari (meaning, Please Run) in theatres next spring. I know I’ll be going to see it it, even if I won’t be able to understand most of the dialogue. 🙂