Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Continent six

Its been about a week since I got home from Namibia and in no time I was back on being Norma the mom not Norma the Ultrarunner. As soon as I got home I was inundated with chores, Dr’s appointments and bills. No matter how far I run I seem to return to the same old stuff. On my first day back my niece Marianna was eager to pass the baton, she said that she felt like in a horror movie where the more laundry she did the more it remained to be done. Then there is my car, I need a new one and I kept researching what kind of vehicle I can afford, specially now that I am not working, and I found just the right model for me, it’s call a bus pass, and don’t even get me started about my leaky basement.I sometimes feel like I am running on a treadmill never really arriving anywhere.
I was mopping around the house tired of the endless chores when something caught my eye, there is a life size drawing of me on my bedroom door, my best friend’s middle son Jake gave it to me, his grade 6 class at St Gregory school did a project about heroes and he chose me, I was speechless when he presented me with the drawing, I felt honored to have been nominated and chosen by Jake and his team members. I felt totally undeserving of such honor but what it really matter is that they though I did. If I were a hero, or a super hero, my power would be of resiliency; I could have a Teflon shield that I could activate if I needed something to just rub off.
Silly of me to be worrying about stuff like not having a car when in life all we have its our integrity, my father once said that at the end we are all remembered by our actions not our wealth, he said this when one of his five kids complained about him welcoming a poor relative to live with us, we were poor ourselves so things just got even tighter. I have never forgotten that and try to follow his example. I did got a new car, a red Jeep Wrangler, as soon as I finish my races I can find a new job, given the economy I might not find what I want but there are jobs, I like working and I have never felt that certain jobs are beneath me.

I am due to leave to my next race in China next week. As could not be happier that I have 250K to run soon. I have been reading the race road book and feel like I need to be pinched, I can’t believe I am so fortunate to be once more participating in such an amazing event.

Here is a bit of the history and culture of my next race in China.

The Gobi March was founded in honor of three missionaries, Mildred Cable and two sisters -- Francesca and Eva French. Mildred Cable and Eva and Francesca French were Christian missionaries who began their work in China around the turn of the century. After more than 20 years of doing routine missionary work in China, the trio headed northwest – to the Gobi Desert and beyond. Many of their colleagues were shocked. In the words of Cable, "Some wrote, saying in more or less parliamentary language, that there were no fools like old fools."

They were not deterred, traveling for months by ox cart before arriving at the City of the Prodigals, the last city inside the Great Wall, named for its reputation for attracting criminals. Here they set up a base where they spent winters. The remaining eight months of the year they evangelized, traveling the vast trade routes of the Gobi Desert in Gansu and Xinjiang Provinces. They made a point of visiting the lonely, the rejected and the poorest of the poor, feeding orphans, healing the sick, and educating girls. More than once bandits assailed them, caught up in local wars, or the occasional blinding blizzard.

Mildred Cable once said: "Only a fool crosses the great Gobi without misgivings." But with every painstaking step Mildred took, she was to see parables for life … a life that embraced the message she had come to bring. "In this trackless waste, where every restriction is removed and where you are beckoned and lured in all directions. One narrow way is the only road for you. In the great and terrible wilderness, push on with eyes blinded to the deluding mirage, your ears deaf to the call of the seducer, and your mind un-diverted from the goal."

A special award will be presented to a competitor who best exemplifies the characteristics of Mildred Cable and Eva and Francesca French.


The host city and location of the Gobi March are specifically chosen for their rich and ancient culture, and this year's host city and location of Kashgar and Tashkorgan, respectively, are rich in history and traditions which are present today much the same way they were hundreds of years ago. Competitors will experience Ugyur and Tajik culture throughout the Gobi March. A brief history of each culture is provided below.

The Uygurs

The Ugyur nationality is mainly distributed in the Ugyur Autonomous County (Xinjiang Province). With a population of more than 8.9 million, Ugyur people speak Ugyur and have their own writing characters. The Ugyur nationality believe in Islam. Their households are characterized by a flat roof with trap door on it. Within their house visitors can find a parlor, bed room, handiwork and storage rooms. The exquisitely decorated niche, carved from plaster, has a rich flavor of the Ugyur nationality . The Ugyur nationality has something called the "Roza" Festival (vegetarian diet-breaking festival). Ugyur people are known as "the singing and dancing nationality," famous for its "Twelve Muqams" dancing performance, which is a musical epic. The Ugyur nationality attaches great importance to clothing – they are always tidily dressed. All the Ugyur people wear small four-corner flower hats. The Ugyur people have the famous bridal-veil raising ceremony. The Ugyur language is a Turkic language spoken in Xinjiang, China. The language traditionally used the Arabic script since 10th century. The government introduced a Roman script in 1969, but the Arabic script was reintroduced in 1983.

The Tajiks

Since ancient times the Tajik people have lived in the Tashkorgan area in the Pamirs, which was both a gateway to China's western frontier and a key communications center between the West and inland China. They speak the Persian branch of the Indo European language family as well as the Ugyur language. The written Ugyur language is most commonly used. "Tajik" means "royal crown." The origin of the Tajiks can be traced back to an ancient Persian speaking tribe in the eastern Pamirs.

The Tajik nationality has maintained a long-standing friendship with the Han people. In 643, when the Monk Xuan Zang of the Tang Dynasty brought home Buddhist scriptures from India, he stopped over in what is today's Tashkorgan and listened to local Tajik fairy tales. Later he recorded these tales in his 'Notes on the Western Region of the Great Tang Dynasty.' In modern Chinese history, the Tajik people often bore the brunt of imperialist and colonialist invasions of China's western borders, and fought courageously to defend the frontier. On September 17, 1954 Tashkorgan Tajik Autonomous County was established.

I will be doing my best to update daily but sometimes coverage is sporadic so don’t forget to check the website for pictures and news about the race.



Anonymous said...

Norma, will be with you in spirits every step of the way.

xavi marina said...


que tengas mucha suerte en tu aventura a Gobi. desde España un empujón bien grande y a por todas!!

nos vemos pronto!!

Norma Bastidas said...

Thanks everybody for the amazing support! I almost shaved my head like Britney Spears but your amazing emails and calls set me straight, I don't look good bald.

I am looking forward to Gobi, the tears, the sweat, the pain, it all remind me I am alive!



Sunshine Girl said...

Can I come? Can I come?