2013 Recap



Just to get it out of the way, I am beyond excited to tell everyone that we raised over $15,000 for our efforts! Half of this money will go towards our running costs to keep the center running smoothly day-to-day, month-to-month. The other half will go towards future building on our land. Hopefully, with other volunteers effort around the world, we can start building some this year.


Following in the traditions of the past years' events, each year has been successful, bigger, and better. This always leaves me with either a loss for words, or an overwhelming amount of material to share. This Summary is for those who participated and would like to relive, those who supported and would like to know how we worked for their donation, and for those who have interest in our efforts. I hope you enjoy reading about all of the hard work that was put in each day to make this such an amazing weekend and endeavor. Words will not match the actions we have put forth, however they will have to do.


One random night at Shell Beach earlier this Summer, Claire, Web, Hildie, and Lil' Web met a Doctor named Laura. Throughout the conversation, they found out that Laura lived in Palo Alto with her three younger boys, but she had also traveled to Rwanda to help. They put us in contact and months later, it was Laura who opened her home to 20 plus of us from the crew to rest before the run would begin. However, she also threw a massive party at a restaurant down the road called Luttickens. She spread the word throughout all of her friends and it was a great showing. Slowly but surely, our network is spreading outside of the Central Coast, and this year we have Laura to thank for a lot of that. I think my favorite memory from the night, was watching one of our bike riders, Magic, command the room as he pulled off a very challenging live auction which ended up quite successful. As you read on, Laura did not stop in Palo Alto either, she joined us for the whole weekend. Palo Alto was a very unique, random, and humbling way to kick off the event and we can't thank Laura and her folks enough for that.




It was hard for most of us to not indulge the night before and have a good time. The excitement was contagious. So, with small amounts of sleep we woke up around five in the morning and drove west to Half Moon Bay to begin. It was there that the bike riders and the runners had separate plans.





Schmitty                     Support: Sully

Hallski                                       Jana Blacksmith

Hildie                                         Bones (Schmitty and Jana's dog)

Big Web





Before I begin, I would like to point out that most of these guys were not highly trained cyclists going into this. Luckily, they are some of the more stubborn people I have ever met. Personally my self and Jana supported the bike riders the whole day. The first 50 Miles was covered pretty quickly with good spirits. Highlights include a random community piano we found overlooking the bluffs south of Half Moon Bay on a random turnout. Jana went ahead near Santa Cruz and we found a nice spot for the guys to eat as much pizza as they could fit in their stomachs. After that, the day got more challenging because maneuvering through Santa Cruz and then in to Monterey is not simple. The PCH becomes a freeway though most of it, so there are many random roads and bike paths that must be traversed. All in all though, it went by pretty smoothly. though the guys were beginning to get pretty tired. The back breaker was, when they finally took the big downhill towards Carmel, they had 100 miles down, but still 24 to go to Big Sur. I remember very well, making a stop at a turnout for them just past Carmel, expecting that they would want a nice stop before the final push. In stead the guys flew by pretty stone faced. They were chasing the sun as it was dropping quick and they were determined to get to the station. It was very impressive. We continued to follow them, and had more support by this time because the runners had finished their portions. As the sun was setting, looking out at the ocean, we could all see a gigantic whale splashing about toward the beams of light from the sun. It was another reminder  of how lucky we are to live where we live. The last 20 miles were some of the toughest of the day but the guys had caught a fire and were flying. They all made it to the station that night just as darkness set in. Some were ready for the next day, and some weren't sure what their status would be. Regardless, everyone was really proud of them.



Ben Holmes

Ben Holmes

Runners:               Support:

Holmes (50)          Claire

Walter (26)            Connor

Erin (15)                Schwarmy

Holmes wanted to begin running as soon as possible that morning because he wasn't sure how long 50 miles was going to take him. His good friend from college, Connor, was following him throughout the whole day, as was Claire. When we arrived at the starting point, we were pleasantly surprised by Schwarmy who took the weekend off unexpectedly to join us for the trip. It was Erin who played the random piano we found at the turnout, while she waited for Holmes to finish his first half marathon of his 50 miles. She jumped in with him there for 15 miles. Walter than did the last half with Holmes. Holmes finished his 50 miles in just over 7 hours which had the rest of us speechless. It should be noted though and not understated that Walter and Erin both ran more than they ever had that day. A full marathon and 15 miles is no joke and both of them pushed themselves as well. All the while, everyone had each others backs.



Barthel and Welker

Barthel and Welker

Runners:                 Support:

Rudy (30+)              Laura (Palo Alto)

Kyle (26)

Welker (26)

Barthel (15)

Lil Web (20)

Ali (16)

Rudy and the gang jumped ahead early in the morning to Moss Landing where they could skip trying to get through Santa Cruz and just focus on Monterey before the beginnings of Big Sur. Rudy began with Kyle Fetrow as well. Barthel jumped in too when he wasn't supporting. I heard that Rudy and Kyle got stopped by the police in Monterey because they were running on a portion of the highway that was prohibited. I wasn't there but I heard it was comical more than anything. After Kyle's marathon was finished, Rudy kept going and Welker joined him as well. Rudy bowed out somewhere after 30 miles and Welker kept going hell bent on finishing his first marathon.

From left: Rudy, Kyle, Ali, John, Laura, Welker, & Barthel  

From left: Rudy, Kyle, Ali, John, Laura, Welker, & Barthel

Ali jumped in for 16 miles with Welker & John. I can only hope Ali's doctor is not reading this because Ali had broken her elbow the month before and was told to not run at all or 3 miles at the most! Ali decided to do 16! Lil' John jumped in for the last 15 miles, and after they had reached the fire station, he decided to go further. It was really cool to hear those things because one must assume that John decided to do this for the cause, but at the same time, a lot of the guys begin to turn this event into a personal challenge as well. Its pretty awesome.





Getting to the fire station was great because we had some newcomers as well. We now had Lou, Katie, Murdock,  Chris, Maria, Patrick, Damien, and George with us too. With that, guys headed to Fernwood which is a local favorite in Big Sur. We packed the place and had a great time as usual. Going back to the station, we visited with some of our Forest Service friends next door. They were having their "End of the Season Party." We had a great time catching up with guys we hadn't seen a in a long time. They were so kind to have a donation jar out for their friends at the party for the cause. Back at the station, guys were talking and laughing well into the night. IT was a bunch of reminders, yet again, of how lucky we all are, and how strong of a community we have.





Bike Riders:            Supporters:

Magic                              Laura      

Eagle                               Ali

Hildie                               Mr. and Mrs. Reeves


Big Web







I was running this day so I did not get to see these guys until the end but their efforts gave some great motivation half way through the day. It was no mystery to folks in Big Sur, the night before, that some of the bike riders were worried about if they would be able to finish the second day. Knowing that some of them would continue regardless, I wasn't worried about it. I remember when I was running and I began to see people coming north of us who had seen the bike riders. I asked them how they were doing and how many people were riding. They replied that every guy was riding again. Eagle was possibly in the worst shape of the all of them and was not sure if he could continue for the next day. I was told that early in the morning on Saturday, he left before anyone else was ready, and led the charge that morning. That motivated me more than anything. These guys do what they say. Other than that, they made great time and arrived at the rock all in one piece, happy to be done. It was a solid effort, that a lot of the guys were probably not fully ready for, but they pushed through.



Runners:           Supporters:

Claire (50)            Welker

Maria(6)                Kyle

Doc (10)               Barthel

 Andrew (15)        Lil John



Claire started running from the station at four in the morning because she wanted to make sure she finished well be fore sunset. She finished wayyy before sunset because she too, ran very fast, and finished 50 miles in 7 hours. Her sister Maria, Andrew, and Doc joined her for some miles for support, and Claire didn't take it too easy on them!






Runners:                        Supporters:

Sully (50)                         Lindsay

Erin (26)                           Julia

Laura Palmer (10)             Ali

Laura Stephens (15)         Holmes

Chris Stephens (15)          Walter

Sunish (15)

Hick - (10)

Dano - (10)

Barthel - (6)

I was very fortunate to have the last leg of the run because it allowed a lot of people to rally together towards then end and bring me home. We left the station at 4 and arrived at the starting point around 5. The early morning hours, I was supported really well by Holmes, Walter, and Erin. I don't think I could have finished without them. After my first 15 miles, Erin joined me and said she would be there for 15 miles. By the time she had finished, she had finished her first full marathon. Keep in mind that she had ran her previously longest run the day before which was 15 miles. She helped me out quite a lot. The last 15 miles were the hardest, but I was encouraged on by a best friend of mine from NH who flew to CA for the event. Sunish, my sister Lindsay, and friend Julia drove from SF to be at the finish line. Sunish, Laura S., Chris, Barthel, jumped in to finish the last 15 miles with me which helped a lot. Hick, Dano, and Laura also jumped in for the last ten miles. I had some serious support. When we got to Cayucos, we got to the hard sand on the beach which helped. We got to a surfer's spot called "The Pit," where we held up to wait for all the other runners we had been separated from. Technically it wasn't done but it felt like it was because the The Pit is only a quarter mile at best from the Rock. It was a tough day but made fantastic by everyone's efforts and support.




Once we knew all of the bike riders were at the rock, and we had all our runners and supporters with us at The Pit, we made the final dash to the Rock. The sun was setting and it was gorgeous. We had more people with us than I could count but the picture says it all.




GAM - Gam couldn't meet up with us for the running because he is currently in the fire academy in the Bay Area. So on his own he decided to run his first marathon with no support. He ran from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay and then back. None of us knew this was going on until later that night. It still humbles me, and floors me that he did that.

Hanna Stevens - Hanna is a very talented photographer and journalist. Many of the photos you have seen in my blog, were taken by her. She knows the kids we run for. She lives in Seattle and couldn't come here. She decided to run her first marathon as well in Seattle while we were running our distances. She did something similar last year too but I forgot to mention it. That deserves to be know. Thank you Hanna!



My view of the night will be different from everyone else's but especially because I did not have much in planning it. Almost all of the planning was from Ali and Mariela of SLO Benefit. I will say it was amazing to see it all come together. When I first walked through the door, I was greeted by Maggie and Allison from SLO Rotaract who were volunteering at the raffle table. Later through the night, more Rotaractors would come and help as well. Besides the selling of shirts, raffle tickets, and other things; Ali had gathered up 12 of her beautiful (understatement) girlfriends to be guest bartenders for the event. Michael Marquez and other employees of Creeky Tiki helped the girls serve drinks all night, and 100% of the tips went to the cause. Louder Space was the band that played and they did great. The place was packed to the max, and somehow everyone had a great time and closed it down.




As if everything thus far wasn't enough, the next day, SLO BENEFIT put on a day at the park. Things were still relatively quiet around ten in the morning up until Central Coast Afro Rhythm and Dance troupe came and put on a class. myself and others got taught some traditional African dances and after that it seemed like people started flowing in. Plenty of SLO Rotaract volunteers flowed in as well to handle the Beer Garden. The Volleyball tournament only had three teams because everyone from the run and ride were to busted up to play serious volleyball. Regardless, those teams played all day and were really good. DJ Epic Entertainment blasted tunes when The Gaza Strip Club weren't playing jams for everyone. Central Coast Brew served up great beer, while Marstons had the BBQ on lockdown. Everyone mentioned thus far, and loads of others came. It was really nice to see people bring their families and have a good time. The Central Coast Afro Rhythm and Dance Troupe came back for a performance and stole everyone's attention, deservedly so. As the sun set, some of us got together for a friendly volleyball game to finish things off. It was a very smooth and just relaxing day for all those who worked so hard for the cause and for their own personal challenges.


First, I would like to point out that last year's event had some ridiculous challenges pertaining to the weather and such. When I began to look back at this year's event, I thought about how simple it was in execution and I almost, for a second, felt spoiled. And, yes, we are spoiled for where we live, but then I remembered just how much harder people pushed themselves this year. I don't think there is one person who didn't break some sort of personal milestone this year. As much fun as we had during the nights with our friends, I know for me, and maybe others, I also had a twinge of worry about whether or not I could do the things I said I would. Everyone did what they said they would and more.

I said it last year, but when I think about how all of this got started, walking up the 1 with Claire and Holmes, and then to now, I am amazed and so happy. Last year introduced efforts put forth by the bulk of the AG Hotshots and other friends of ours. This year brought forth more efforts by the same, and introduced efforts from so many folks outside of our crew, that I couldn't possibly name them all without messing up. This event is taking on a life of its own, and I couldn't be more humbled and excited about it. 

I have to give a special thank you to the Arroyo Grande Hotshots. After the 2011 Walk, I came back to CA and the guys asked me IF I was going to do another event and IF they could join. After the run of 2012, I came back and everyone separately came up to me and said "So, What are WE gunna do this year?" We spent a very busy fire season, discussing ideas and such, and when it came to figure it all out and do it, no one skipped a beat.

And for everyone that had any part in this adventure at all, thank you. This event is becoming bigger than I could ever imagine and its because of so so so many outside efforts all coming together and adding a new level to everything.

We are lucky people as I keep reminding myself. We just had an amazing weekend, filled with beautiful days, and awesome friends. We bettered ourselves, we pushed ourselves, we appreciated the place we live, we partied, and we raised a substantial amount of money that is going to stand the tests of time to serve kids that are less fortunate than we are. In my short life, I have yet to find anything that is better than that. We all have a part in that. Thank you for joining this adventure.

KOMEZA GUKOMERA (Continue to be strong)


p.s. Stay tuned for the updates that will follow in 2014 during my trip back to Rwanda!

p.s.s. Contact me anytime (Sully@ubakaurwanda.org.uk)