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Exceeding Expectations: Racing at last!



It was our most exciting weekend in a long time. The kids hadn't raced since March, 2020, just a few days before the lockdown. We started gathering and training again last August, but with no idea when we'd be able to get back into competition. At long last, twelve of our team members laced up and raced last Sunday.

And this one was really special. It was held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA. Only sixteen 4-person teams were invited, including three from EE, each one captained by a female. Our captains were Isi Ibarra, and sisters Gabby and Joselin Canseco. It was a relay on a -mile course around one of the polo fields. The goal was for each team to cover as many miles as possible in four hours, starting at 6:00 am. There were also awards for the single fastest mile and the most miles covered by an individual. A lot of strategy was involved, and Cherie worked with the captains to create the initial plans and then they adjusted as things progressed. Everybody got totally engrossed in the spirit of this unusual event and it was tremendous fun.

Because of the early start Sunday, we brought all of the kids, as well as EE dads Salvador and Meli, out the night before. The kids whooped it up in the pool, we had a big pizza dinner, and then it was off to bed early.


Raul showing off


A little improvised volleyball



The next morning. As you can see, the race is themed on the Mexican festival
"El Dia de los Muertos." It's normally celebrated in November, but under
pandemic conditions, you get out there when you can!




Some pre-race stretching. This went on all day,
the kids needing to stay loose in between their laps


Running the lead-off lap for their respective teams,
John, Raul and Ahris


Perfect hand-off


As the day wore on, blisters took their toll.
Here's Captain Isi improvising.


As most of you know, EE uses sport as a vehicle to help the kids learn to set goals and then work hard to achieve them, as part of making sure that every one of them graduates high school and goes on to college. Another aspect of helping them to move on to happy, productive lives is getting them comfortable interacting with the world at large. That they're succeeding was well demonstrated Sunday when some of the kids were interviewed by television reporters and handled themselves like pros. Isi's interview ended up on the local NBC station Sunday night!









Competing against some of the best adult runners in the Coachella Valley, none of our teams made the top-three for a podium finish. BUT: Our very own Ricardo Franco ran the fastest mile of the day, an amazing 5:11, to capture that coveted prize. He got a huge ovation from the stunned crowd. Although only first place was awarded, it's worth noting that second place was captured by our very own Arian Mayorga, with a one-mile time of 5:23. (P.S. Ricardo's teammates made short work of the 11 pounds of dates he won.)


Fastest-mile winner Ricardo with race director Tizoc Deaztlan.



Our three captains were also honored, by Riverside County.


Richard Olivares was honored by the city as the youngest competitor. The crowd
was in awe when it was announced that the 12-year-old had covered eleven miles!



Cherie giving props for a job well done



By the way, we stitched together a 2-minute of the kids running. You can see it
here (.MOV) or
here (.MP4) *

But please note: You'll see that all the kids are carrying cell phones and looking at them frequently. This is not because they are typical distracted teenagers! The phones were connected to Strava and were an integral part of the system that tracked everyone's time and distance, and were especially important for the kids trying to run the fastest mile of the day.


A splendid time was had by all!



Of course, wonderful experiences like this are only possible because of the generosity of supporters like you. So thanks, as always, from the bottom of our hearts.



* eefoundation.org/EE-Polo-Relays.mp4