You know that the world of ultra running is a very small group, when you travel thousands and thousands of miles to a whole different continent to run a 135 mile race, and you still know a good portion of the other runners. Next Tuesday, January 15th, I will be leaving to go down to Brazil to run the Brazil 135 (with Traci as my crew chief!) and will be racing against a handful of the runners that I completed Badwater with this past year. Now running 135 miles at once is definitely a feat in itself, especially when you add in mountains and high heat and humidity, however there are three runners who are going way above and beyond this 135 mile journey.

The Journey:

Starting on Wednesday, January 16th (only two days before the race), Tony Portera, Chris Roman and Charlie Engle will be running the entire Caminho da Fe. The Caminho da Fe, meaning “path of faith,” is a 351 mile pilgrimage route, which leads to the Nossa Senhora Aparecida Basillica in Aparecida, which is the world’s greatest Marian sanctuary. The purpose of the CDF is to provide its “pilgrims” moments of reflection and faith through the interaction with nature, which provides a combination of physical and psychological introspection. The Brazil 135 covers, 135 miles of this path.

The Idea:

Tony originally came up with the idea of running the entire CDF after he ran the Brazil 135 for the first time in 2010. He had such a great experience and fell in love with the course, the country and concept of the CDF that he wanted to go back and see it all. Chris and Tony had then become close friends after Chris crewed Tony at Badwater. Tony was inspired by Chris’s attempt to run the entire length of the Erie Canal and so let him in on his plan to run the entire CDF. The original plan was to not run the path in conjunction with the Brazil 135, but after speaking with the race director, Mario Lacerda, they decided to tie it in with the race. In January of 2011, Tony, Chris and Jarom completed the entire path in 7.5 days.

The Plan:

This time around however, Tony, Chris and Charlie are hoping to cover the distance in 6 days. In order to do so they have a plan that they must stick to, which pretty much leaves no room for error if they want to make it to the start of the Brazil 135 by the third day on Friday. The plan will be as followed:

Wednesday, January 16th: 67.1 miles
Thursday, January 17th: 66.3 miles
Friday, January 18th: 71.5 miles
Saturday, January 19th: 63.5 miles
Sunday, January 20th: 38.5 miles
Monday, January 21st: 44.8 miles

In addition to having to run slightly more mileage each day, Tony, Chris and Charlie also learned from their mistakes that were made in 2011 in order to better their time this time around. According to Tony,

“In ultra-endurance events of these distances, learning form prior experiences is a key to future successes. Take a race like Badwater or Brazil 135 for example. Typically, participants will improve in their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc… attempts, and a great deal of that improvement can be attributed to lessons learned from the prior experiences on those courses. Some of it is “mental” lessons learned. Some of it is physical. Some of it logistical. But, I think that the overall experience from the first time around, the knowledge of how our bodies react during such an extreme task and how to come with those reactions, is what will be a deciding “difference” that we will have to be aware of to succeed.”

The Path:

The section of the course that the Brazil 135 runs on will have 30,000 ft of elevation gain just in itself, so over the 6 day excursion, the men will get in more than a fair share of climbing. According to Tony, “the entire attempt starts out being hard, and simply gets more and more difficult as you go.: However, their toughest day will most likely be the day after the finish of the 135, not only because they will have already been running for four days straight but also because they will get to go up the “hill of the broken leg.” Ouch!

The Friendship:

So I would imagine that while running for 6 days straight in the mountains, in the heat and humidity, that maybe people would start to get on my nerves again and I would maybe be just a bit cranky. I could definitely see some problems arising! However, apparently these guys keep their cool the whole way despite being completely exhausted and sleep deprived.

“Of course everyone has their “moments” of delirium and crankiness, especially when attempting such a difficult physical and mental task. Our strong friendship and bond that we already have helps to get us through those moments. The fact that we have all experienced these moments of mental/physical challenges is what enables us to understand and accept what one of us may be going through at a particular time. Having a crew with the same experience/background is critical as well and in 2011 we had Glauber and Lynne Hewit- two ultra endurance athletes that knew exactly how to handle that “crankiness.” You deal with it, you fix it, and you move on.”
– Tony Portera

The Support:

This year Glauber and Brazilian runner and translator, Ivan Goncalves will be supporting the three in their efforts. A knowledgeable crew will be essential to them as there will be no aid stations during the race and especially not during the rest of their journey. Tony, Chris and Charlie are also supported in their adventure by their families back at home and also owe thanks to the race director, Mario, his wife, Eliana, and the rest of the race staff. In addition they thank Clovis Tavares and his wife who created the CDF because if it were not for them there would be no path of faith to traverse.

The Cause:

Every adventure that Tony Portera partakes in is dedicated for raising funds for the Challenged Athletes Foundation and this journey will of course be no different. If you would like to make a donation to the cause for this event please visit: http://raceforareason13.kintera.org/cdf2013