• Arabelle Romeo

CAMMO Catfish Crawl...a post full of gratitude

It’s taken me a minute to get this written...weekend before last I experienced some pretty wonderful stuff. Earlier this year Rich and I were invited to run a trail 5k on the property of some friends of a friend...wanting to be supportive, we drove over an hour and a half to what we assumed would be flat southern Georgia where we expected to see a course mowed in someone’s field. We arrived an hour early and decided to run the 5k loop before the race and check it out. We were both amazed and pleasantly surprised to find ourselves on single track through the woods with no shortage of elevation change- the 3.1 mile loop provided over 400’ of climb! We ran a 2nd loop with the other participants and then decided to run a 3rd together when the race was over. By the end of that 3rd loop we agreed it would be an amazing course for a timed event and mentioned it to the property owners Greg and Wendy. Over the coming weeks we had some conversations and ultimately came to the conclusion that we would hold a 6 & 12 hour endurance run on their property, also known as CAMMO: Creating Almighty Memories and Mission Opportunities. It’s a place of peace and love and support and so much beauty on so many levels. As part of their own mission they offer opportunities for youth, adults, family and friends to experience nature and come closer to the Divine. As many of you know, I’m not Christian, but I have a deep admiration and respect for those who live by Christian values and spread that love and acceptance in the world. Greg and Wendy are way up there on the list of loving and accepting Christians I know...they chose to support my mission- to bring awareness and support to those who have suffered miscarriage and early infant loss- and invited me onto their beautiful land to put on a race.

I arrived the day before and after a lost key debacle at Walmart was successfully averted, Wendy arrived with all of the aid station food. A lot of credit goes to Wendy for so many different things— this poor woman witnessed multiple family injuries and emergency room visits and a near dog-catastrophe the week of the race- clearly to get all of the crisis and injuries out of the way before all the runners showed up ;) She trustingly bought all the things on the aid station grocery list even when they sounded absurd and she went above and beyond by providing a feast for after the race— but I’ll get to that later.

For those of us who are familiar with trail and ultrarunning, there’s nothing unfamiliar about runners arriving before sunrise with headlamps, dragging coolers and setting up canopy tents at the start/finish and running loops through the woods for a day. For folks who don’t live in our crazy world- this is a spectacle to behold. The friends who introduced me to Greg and Wendy also came for the weekend to help out and even brought more help with them. Other friends showed up and everyone was so eager to get instructions on what needed to be done. We had a fully stocked aid station set up at the start/finish and a couple of skillful chefs making quesadillas. It was truly wonderful to see “non-ultra-runners” so excited and enthusiastic about our sport.

The field of runners was no less impressive than the volunteers. They ranged from experienced ultrarunners- some who had attended a 100 miler the previous weekend and still showed up to run up to a 50K in one case, to those who had never run more than a half marathon or even had minimal distance running experience. A particularly brave visually impaired woman completed her first 10k with the help of a couple guides— one of those guides being a woman who travelled over 600 miles just to be supportive of the cause because it was close to her heart. Her intention had been to help guide and to run 12 miles and she completed a 50k!

Amazingly this event had 100% attendance - something I’ve never experienced before at a race...and most did more than what they had intended to run. Even I laced up and did some loops with tired runners at the end of the day.

Wendy and Greg opened their home (and brick oven) after the race and invited everyone to their table for a feast of homemade pizzas and salad...and long after I thought everyone would have dispersed the house was still full of life. I woke the next morning expecting silence and an empty house only to come downstairs and find Wendy preparing a huge breakfast for everyone who had stayed...there’s so much love in that home.

I’m finding that the further I get on this journey, I become more and more humbled by the willingness and the bravery of others to share their stories. Many who showed up had a story of their own or someone close to them relating to miscarriage. I had a vision of supporting others through this mission of mine, but I’m finding that I’m really just creating more space for everyone to support each other and that can reach far more people than I can alone! I observed people sharing their stories with each other and embracing each other, new friendships being made through a common experience that maybe broke us down when it happened, but it left us with understanding and compassion for others who know how it feels. The love, smiles and laughter I experienced out there were just the affirmation I needed to know I’m on the right we’re going to do it again :)

Whether it’s a cause you feel connection to, or you’d just like to support it and get some miles and experience that amazingness for yourself— you can register here ;) Hope to see y’all on the trail ❤️😁🏃🏼‍♀️

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"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally in whatever way they like." ~Lao Tzu I finished 201