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CONCLUDED 1 AUGUST 2015
NEXT ROVING RACE IN SRI LANKA (Starts on 14 Feb 2016)
A return to the mountains

There is no question that every competitor in this year’s RacingThePlanet: Ecuador 2015 was struck by the incredible scenery of a course that followed the renowned Route of the Volcanoes through the Andes.

Competitors taking part in the 250-km event started in the foothills of the Cotopaxi volcano, passed through rugged highlands, bedded down in Alpine meadows, forded mountain streams on the ancient Inca trail, descending into a tropical cloud forest and met some of the locals along the way.

One local who perhaps got more than even he bargained for was competitor Franklin Ruiz, an Ecuadorean doctor working in the United States. Blended with the emotion of competing on home soil, the highlight came as he traversed the course from Cotopaxi to Chugchilan. The 52-year-old said it was unbelievable to be in the same area where he had spent part of his childhood on a farm owned by relatives.

“When I was small, I used to spend vacations on a farm near Chugchilan,” he said. “When I saw it I was unbelievable. I thought, ‘What are the chances that they would choose to have the course go through there?’.

“Ecuador is so big and so many places to choose from, but they chose that area of all places. The church there looked exactly the same as the last time I saw it almost 50 years ago. It was déjà vu,” said Ruiz, who spoke from halfway up a mountain in the Cloud Forest, a regional of exceptional natural beauty shrouded with mist and circled by birds.

 

Ruiz was among the 144 competitors from 37 countries taking part in the eighth edition of the Roving Race, which allowed competitors to experience the indigenous Native American and Inca heritage of 11,000 years.

President of RacingThePlanet Events Sam Fanshawe said the spectacular scenery among ever-changing ecosystems that is home to hundreds of unique species of wildlife also made Ecuador a special race location.

 

Ruiz has taken part in three other RacingThePlanet multi-stage events in Australia, Atacama and Madagascar. The paediatric anaesthetist was eager to return to his home country to take part in his the event. And it was an emotional homecoming, with a race experience that provided him a new perspective on his native country.

“I love it more,” he said. “I think the race is a good showcase for the country. There’s a lot activities that you can do, and there is ecotourism, adventure travel, bird watching – many, many things.

“The area is more developed now and accessible. It’s given more people the opportunity to drive up and enjoy it.”

 

By Melanie Ho

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