We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Congratulations to Eric Fischer for running and finishing his first 90 kilometer (56 mile) race! Eric also did an amazing job reaching his fund raising goal for America’s Unofficial Ambassadors! His efforts will help to build people-to-people connections and increase awareness between the United States and the Muslim world. Read below about how Eric found the strength to finish his race, the new friends he made, and the amazing experience he will never forget:
Greetings from Morocco!
Thank you for your support and encouragement over the last few days. I completed the 90 kilometers ultra-marathon in Ifrane successfully and I am now back in Rabat. It was quite a race! I went up there not knowing much about what was going to happen other than it was going to be a long race but it turned out to be the best experience I have had in Morocco and one of the best experiences of my life! It was certainly a life changing experience.
The first day, we spent the night in Zaouia, a small town with a waterfall. The next morning we started the race at 10 am. It was a brutal run. It started low and then went up a huge hill with lots of boulders. When we got to the top there was a long, flat, grassy area until we got to some cedar trees before descending to the finish line. Afterward I took a little birdbath in a water fountain and from there we got lunch and dinner at our campsite in a beautiful area of Ras al-Ma.
The next day we got up and took the bus to the place where we left off on the first day. There were four stages to this race and this was the longest leg of the race. It was a 35 kilometer run which was even more brutal than the first day. It seemed like the race was never going to end! I started off a little too strong because about 2/3 of the way through it was really hot and I couldn’t run anymore so I just walked. However, I finally made it to the finish line in less than four hours. There were some monkeys at the end of the trail to welcome me to the finish line. It was a hard experience but it was a good experience in the sense that I bonded with a lot of the Moroccan runners. Many of them were world-renowned runners but it was also a group of people who were there just there to have some fun and run the race. After dinner all the runners listened to live music together.
The third day of the race was probably the best for me. It was a 17 kilometer run on relatively flat terrain. I thought it would be painful because after the second day it was really tough to start thinking about running more. However, it worked out really well and I had a smile on my face at the end of the third day! After the race I went with some friends down to this river and we jumped into the cold water and poured water all over ourselves. It was supposed to be really good for my muscles and legs. After swimming in the river, we had the best chicken that I have ever had in my life. Although, I am sure my opinion was influenced by the fact that I was so hungry.
The next day we ran the last leg of the run. It was supposed to be the easiest section of the race since it was downhill but the downhill part had all these boulders in the path. I had to go slowly and my left leg was a little sore. I wanted to be really careful not to injure myself. After the downhill part, we hit a road and after that I ran some more until I got to the final kilometer and then I ran all the way to the finish. After I ended the race, a couple TV stations interviewed me and I got a medal, a t-shirt, and some other goodies. At one point, I was on stage speaking in Arabic about my experience running the race. I said that the race allowed me to bond with Moroccans over live music, bus rides, food, swimming, and storytelling. It was quite an experience that required training, determination, and sheer will to make it to the finish.
The experience is one that I will never forget. It was really special and means a lot to me in so many ways that I cannot really describe. I made a lot of Moroccan friends and when we were running the race everyone was enduring the same experience. Although some runners may have trained more than others or knew more about the course, we all realized that we were in this together and we would help each other make it through. This made it a really special experience because it didn’t matter if we were Moroccan, American, Tunisian, or Libya; we were all running this race and trying to get to the end and this meant helping each other along the way. I will definitely stay in touch with my fellow runners.
Lastly, one of the things that kept me going was knowing that I had the support of many friends and family. I cannot thank my family and friends enough for the support that they gave to me in running this race; knowing that my friends and family were supporting me and America’s Unofficial Ambassadors (AUA) made the moments where it felt like the run was never going to end just that much more meaningful. When you run for a purpose greater than yourself you are able to accomplish more than you think and I think that was one of the main lessons I took away from running the ultra-marathon in Ifrane, Morocco.