MZT: Center of Run for Fun

In the many years we’ve loved Mazatlán, a whole lot has changed. In the six years that we have lived here full time, one hugely noticeable difference is the focus on sports. It perhaps started with the Triathlon del Pacífico, now a hugely successful annual event.

We live on the malecón, right in front of the baseball stadium, and every weekend it seems there is at least one sporting event: a marathon, fun run, swim, bike, or mini-triathlon. Yesterday there was a big run in the Bosque/City Park. All weekend is the 4-wheeler/off-road race, Ruta PataSalada. This morning is another run in the Bosque, and, wonderfully for us, a 2 km obstacle course race on the beach in front of our house.

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Participants, as you can see in the slideshow above, had to crawl, military style, under yellow tape. In another challenge they had to climb over huge sandbags and a pile of tires. The greatest part, however, was the finish. A fun-loving group of school kids dressed as Lucha Libre wrestlers jumped on and attempted to tackle the competitors as each of them reached the finish line. Can you imagine running in the sand, navigating obstacles and when the finish line is finally in sight, a line of would be luchadores is waiting for you?  It was a total hoot as you can see in the video below:

Mexico surpassed the USA in 2013 to become the country with the highest rate of obesity in the world—33% of Mexicans are overweight. Mexico still ranks second behind the US in rates of diabetes—one in six people here have the disease, and 70,000 Mexicans a year die from it. This change in the culture of our city, to get people out and moving, and most importantly, enjoying themselves while doing it, is an enormously welcome culture change!

One frustration is that it is often hard to get good facts about events like today’s. They are advertised on the radio, in some of the fitness centers around town and sometimes mentioned in the paper. Luckily, we have two very good sources here in Mazatlan. The Mazatlan Running Group page on Facebook is a great source of information on various runs in the area. There is also an awesome blog called Carreras atléticas en Mazatlán. I do not know the writer of this blog, Xavier Padilla, but he takes a lot of time to find all of the information about running events as it becomes available here in Mazatlan. Gracias Xavier.

Greg sat out today as he is training for the 5 and 10K next weekend at the army base. We have always wanted to go to the base as it has truly unique views of Mazatlan. Greg practices running hills each week, so whatever the Mexican army has in store for him should not be too much of an issue. There is also another larger obstacle type race on April 12, the beginning of Semana Santa. This race will be in the Golden Zone at or near the paintball facility. It’s called La Carrera de la Bestia or The Run of the Beast. You can read about it on the blog in the paragraph above, but here is a picture of the course—get your reading glasses ready:

This the course for the Run of the Beast on April 12, 2014

This the course for the Run of the Beast on April 12, 2014

As you can see, it has  a pool of mud, a labyrinth, walls, a pool of ice and many more challenges. If we were not leaving town, Greg would be in this for sure. Hopefully some of you will sign up and report back—guest blog posts are welcome.

Stretch before and after, hydrate and train—see you outside!

Holy Week and Easter in Mazatlán/Semana Santa y Pascua en Mazatlán

If you say “Semana Santa” and “Mazatlán” in the same sentence, most people think of masses of national tourists crowding the beaches, partying in the clubs, and enjoying banda music.

We took a couple of videos of the banda Las Brisas on the beach at Inn at Mazatlán, if you’d like to see.

But this, the first Holy Week that we’ve actually stayed in Mazatlán, turned out to be quite a sacred event as well, thanks in large part to the young people of Pajuma, the Catholic youth group. This group of young people assembled behind us, in the stadium, from Thursday through Saturday to celebrate Holy Week and to pray for peace.

Most of the photos in this blog post are from the local newspaper, as I didn’t take any photos in church, and didn’t have my camera ready for many of the events.

PALM SUNDAY/DOMINGO DE RAMOS
Palm Sunday surprised me, as we showed up at church to find an entire marketplace of palm frond braiders selling their wares in the little plaza in front of the church. There was quite a variety of these beautiful folk art pieces, many of them very detailed, and very reasonably priced.

Most parishes in Mazatlán seem to conduct a reenactment of Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem. Actors dress up as Jesus on a donkey, as well as as the Apostles. Observers carry their palm fronds and cheer as Jesus comes into Jerusalem. These are some photos from the procession downtown, conducted by the Pajuma kids. They left the Templo de San José to proceed to the Catedral, and then after mass to go on to the statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe down at La Puntilla.








































MAUNDY THURSDAY/JUEVES SANTO
Masses on Thursday usually include the traditional washing of the feet. This is of course the night of Passover, Jesus’ last supper with his Apostles. At that Passover celebration, the Bible tells us Jesus washed the feet of his friends. The humility inherent in washing someone else’s feet makes Maundy Thursday one of my favorite religious celebrations. Here, however, they wash feet a bit differently than what I’m used to in the States (I’m used to us parishioners either getting our feet washed or being able to wash the feet of others). Here the priest washes the feet of 12 men from the parish, representing the 12 Apostles, who are seated in front of the altar.

At the end of mass the altar is stripped and communion is stored away until we can celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Parishioners exit Mass in silence, or stay in the church for the Easter Vigil (Adoración al Santísimo), accompanying Jesus during his night of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemene.

This mass, for me, was quite awkward. We were all inside, meditating on the impending sacrifice of Our Lord. Outside, pulmonías (open-air taxis) were going by, music blaring on giant speakers, filled with drunken revelers hooting and hollering. While I felt happy for Mazatlán that people were filled with joy, and that much-needed money was flowing into the local economy, it poignantly captured the “life separate and apart” from larger society that Christians are exhorted to follow.

GOOD FRIDAY/VIERNES SANTO
One of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, today commemorates the day on which Christ died on the cross. Many parishes in Mazatlán conduct a Vía Crucis, or the way of the cross, reenacting Christ’s carrying of his cross to Calvary and, sometimes, his hanging and death. These reenactments can get painfully graphic.

The Vía Crucis usually culminates with a mass, during which parishioners kiss the feet of Jesus on the cross. Again, this is one of my favorite religious ceremonies of the year. Here in Mazatlán they stand and kiss the cross. In the US I was used to kneeling to kiss the feet of Jesus, on a larger cross than what is the custom here.













HOLY SATURDAY/SABADO DE GLORIA
Culminating Holy Week for many Catholics, Saturday evening is the lighting of the pascal fire, or the “fuego nuevo.” I always love this night, because the church is completely dark. Every parishioner brings a candle, which are, in Mexico, conveniently sold in front of the church on Holy Saturday. Fire is brought in from a bonfire outside, and used to light parishioners’ candles. The fire is passed from parishioner to parishioner, and the church is gradually filled with light and hope. It’s a gorgeous sight. A few Easter hymns are sung, during which the lights of the church are gradually turned on as well, and we can again sing “Aleluya,” because Christ is risen.

It is at this mass that we renew our baptismal covenant, renouncing evil and professing our faith. Holy water and sacred images are blessed. We can all go home and eat what we want, because the penance you’ve observed for the 40 days of Lent is complete. Unless, of course, you wait till Easter Sunday to attend mass 🙂