A marathon for conservation

How on earth can a marathon help conservation?

Pledge: I will run the Lima Marathon 42.195km on May 31 after only 5 and a half weeks of training at 4h13min or less. 4 hours and 13 minutes makes an average speed of 6:00 min per kilometer, which is more or less the speed that I have managed on the long runs I have done  so far.
But I aiming higher than 4 hours and 13 min and this is where you dear reader come in. I challenge you that I will run faster and you can help me to push my limits.  Let’s do this together for conservation. How? I tell you how! No you don’t have to run a marathon yourself, but I am sure you’d buy me a beer if I make it, right? In fact maybe you’d say that you’d buy me two beers if I shave 5 min from the stipulated time. If I shave 15 minutes you’d throw a party. Having a lot of friends and followers on the social media outlets and lists that I belong to, that could amount to a lot of beer for me to drink – and it would probably not allow me to do any more marathons (or birding for that matter) for a long time! Let’s convert your solidarity for my pain and suffering pushing the limit into a donation scheme for a good cause instead . The challange on your part is to donate 1 dollar for each minute I can shave off the 4:13 Marathon. The cause: Habitat conservation and supporting community eco-tourism project on Satipo road in Central Peru. See google map.
View Larger Map

The principal area for birding and the conservation project with the community is the stretch between Mariposa and Carrizales on the map ranging between 1200-3600m altitude.


I am not new to Marathons – the 42.195 km race that represents the ultimate running challenge. I have run 5 so far. My first in 1982 and my last in 2000. My last one I ran after 16 years of absence in 3:37 in a very hot Cozumel.
I have had a dream for a long time to run Boston Marathon – the oldest marathon in the US and the most prestigious. In fact this marathon is so popular that one needs to qualify. For my age-group 45-49 I  need to run a qualifying certfied marathon in 3h30min or less to be eligible for Boston. A bit more than 3 weeks ago, when I heard that the Lima Marathon would officially be ranked as an international marathon and thus serve as a qualifier for Boston, I was thinking that in spite of my lack of training I could give it a go. 3:30 makes an average 5 min/km speed. When starting my serious training at that point I was out of shape, but obviously not completely new to running. I had run only about 100km in the first four months of the year and now in only 3 and half weeks later I have run another 250km  A week ago however, I realized that I shall not make 3:30 this time. I have got the endurance to last the race, but not the speed. I would need another 5-7 weeks to build speed. My wife asked me: “so why do you run, if you won’t qualify to Boston?” The idea of running for conservation was born (cracked during training of course). A reason to go on in spite of not qualifying for Boston Marathon.

The details of the pledge

I hope to get at least 100 people to help out. You can choose to make pledges according to the following plans.

  • 10 dollars. I think this is a great cause, and will support you no matter what with 10 bucks.
  • 1 dollar/min shaved off from 4:13.  You can do it Gunnar! For every minute faster you run I will donate one dollar more. Have this in your head at all times!
  • 42 dollars. That’s one dollar per kilometer. You are crazy Gunnar, but you have my support for each kilometer you run.

To give you an idea of the speeds involved for different finishing times here are some examples

5.00 min/km speed gives 3:30
5.15 min/km gives 3:41
5:30min/km gives 3:52
5.41  min/km gives 4 hours.
6.00 min/km gives 4h13min

It shall be fun to support, because I will be  posting  at least every 10km on Twitter during the marathon.

I don’t know, but the whole thing may actually get some coverage in Peruvian press if I get it out through some Peruvian media.

Rainforest Partnership

For this to be successful and to channel the donations we need involvement of a recognized (and quite flexible) non-profit organization. Since similar pledges are not unheard of in the US, the US is the best base. Niyanta Spelman of Rainforest Partnership was in Peru last year checking out the Satipo road area making contacts with the community and is well aware of the needs and possibilities.  During this coming week, Rainforest Partnership will be informing of ways of receiving donations on their web-page and facebook page. Check them out to keep yourself updated.

What can your donation achieve?

Since 2000 Kolibri Expeditions have run birding trips to this area, but only a few trips per year. These trips have been quite rough, but we have supported the communities by using their communal schools as base for camping. We have brought school material, given talks about conservation, and small donations to install water and a toilet near the school. In spite of our effort, this can hardly sustain any major income for the community. Nevertheless, during these years awareness have increased, culminating last year when 3 community members were invited on a special trip with Kolibri Expeditions to Mindo in Ecuador to see with their own eyes what can be achieved in an area with same geographical conditions as their own. The same year they received visits from Rainforest Partnership and University of Huancayo was granted a conservation and research concession in their area.

Now is the best time ever to start supporting the communities. They have a school building and a communal building that can be used as lodging presently, but there are no beds nor dividing walls. This is what we can achieve with different amounts.

  • 2000$ – Implementing beds and improvements of shower and toilet area in Apaya (2350m) as well as hummingbird feeders. The community can raise the current price per person for lodging of 5 soles per night to 20 soles (7 dollars).  That is me running 10 minutes faster than 4:13 and 200 people making pledge.
  • 5 000$ – the above and a Butterfly house/butterfly farm in Mariposa (which incidentally means butterfly in Spanish!!).  There is much unsustainable collecting of butterflies near Satipo.  With a butterfly farm it can become an important export business and it is sustainable. Later it will become a tourism attraction. I cut 20 minutes and run in 3:53 and 250 people make the pledge.
  • 10.000$. With an additional 5000 dollars would ensure the building material to build a new building at Apaya for tourism and price can be raised for lodging can be raised to 12 dollars per person and night.  I cut 25 min and we get 400 people to sign up for the pledge.
  • With additional funding we shall be able to do some workshop for local guides and how to deal with tourists.

Every goal met will help to lessen the pressure on the forest and allow for an alternative way of subsistence.

This old article give you a little bit more background on the Satipo road project. The trip to Mindo was done in April 2008 and huge success. In a future posting I shall upload the video to You Tube so you can see what we did there.


I completed the marathon in 3h59min16s. 25 people made pledges. It gives an important addition to the Satipo road conservation project. Donations can be made on https://www.rainforestpartnership.org

Additional later posts about the Marathon can be found here:

The following people are in on the pledge:

    1. Brian Allen, Gran Rapids, MI
    2. Michelle Townsley, Ventura, CA
    3. Carol Foil, Baton Rouge, LA
    4. Dawn Simmons Fine, US (everywhere!) of Dawn’s and Jeff’s blog as they travel the US with their motorhome
    5. Janet Zinn, NY of janetzinnphotography.com
    6. Alan La Rue, Lima, Peru of Expat Peru. Learn spanish online
    7. Joe Church, Harrisburg, PA. Great pledge. Joe writes: On the same day of the Lima Marathon I will be running the San Diego Marathon. So here is a deal for your cause: I will pledge the $1/km or $42 no matter what for your marathon. I will also pledge $1/km for my marathon no matter what and $2 for every minute I exceed 4 hours or $1 for every minute I am under 4 hours.
    8. Antonio Coral, Massachusetts and Puerto Maldonado, Peru pledges $1/km. Thx Antonio. I told him I could knock it off his salary, because he is our main guide for Kolibri Expeditions’s Amigo research station program 🙂
    9. Bob Warneke, Austin, TX. Boardmember of RainForest Partnership.
    10. Stephen Greenfield, Minneapolis, MN.
    11. Lyn Nelson, Las Vegas, NV.
    12. Juan Liziola, Lima, Peru.
    13. Nigel Vouden, United Kingdom.
    14. Mark Egger, Seattle, WA
    15. Elizabeth Gross, Michigan, of Backyard Wildlife Journal
    16. Debbie Blair, Lexington, KY
    17. Phillip Brown, Santa Cruz, CA
    18. Domenic Tomkins from Expat forum.
    19. Olivia Gentile, NY. Author of “Life List” about Phoebe Snetsinger.
    20. Linus Thiel, Stockholm, Sweden aka @yesbabyyes.
    21. Christopher, Boston, MA. Owner of Picus blog
    22. Peggie Veggie
    23. Mary Ambler
    24. Stuart Starrs, Lima, Peru. enperublog.com

25. Murray Honick

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