Fuego Y Agua Start Line

It’s been 5 days since I completed the Fuego Y Agua 50K in Nicaragua and I still don’t know how to adequately describe it.  A few words come to mind:

  • Fantastic
  • Excruciating
  • Fun
  • Torturous
  • Monumental
  • Hot
  • Dry
  • Cool
  • Muddy
  • Iconic

Shane McKay, who basically got me there and back, told me that there was no good way to talk about it to people who weren’t part of it.  He was right.  But sometimes a picture can do the talking.  Like this one.

Seconds after a sprint to the finish and hearing my time of 16 hours flat announced

But there’s so much more to my story of running up, down, and around Maderas Volcano than this photo.  There’s the story of finding Teresa on my final descent, huddled alone in the dark — void of a working headlamp and jacket.  She was part of that sprint that had us barely beating the cut-off.

Teresa and Jeff
Found her and we finished – even if it was just in time!

The story would be incomplete without describing the varying climates, terrain types, and views. Two trips up, down, and around a 5,000 foot volcano gives you the opportunity to experience a lot of different views!


crater lake
Marshes by the crater lake at the top of Maderas Volcano in the middle of a cloud forest


Jungle gym2
Sometimes even pictures can’t depict how steep and treacherous the trails were


The lower part of Volcan de Maderas


Along the “highway” around the volcano

These photos still tell only part of the story.  Missing are pictures of the torrential rain storm at the top of Maderas.  I have none to depict the kilometers of steep trails covered with ankle-deep mud, slippery stones, roots, bamboo webs, and sudden drop-offs.  No photos of howler monkeys complaining of our invasion. The pictures don’t depict the scorching mid-day Central American heat while traversing 7 miles around the volcano. The pictures also don’t depict the positive attitudes, the camaraderie, the conversations, and the mental strategies that got me and others to the finish line.

Yet through it all, you just have to trust me when I tell you that Fuego Y Agua was one of the absolute best racing experiences of my life. Just being in the presence of the people who directed and/or took part in this event (which was for charity, by the way) made me feel like a better person. It was also the hardest thing I’ve ever done – even eclipsing my Barkley 50Ks.

But at the same time, it was also more fun.

I leave you with one last photo: the summary stats from my Garmin Fenix 3.  As you can see, I didn’t set any speed records, but I beat the time cutoffs and got out alive without falling off the volcano or being bitten by a Fir de Lance!

A little more than a 50K, but some of that was me going the wrong way!