Johnson: A Nicaraguan Giver

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill


I can think of no better way to describe Johnson than through Winston Churchill’s quote. My mother always said there are two types of people in this world: givers and takers. Nicaraguan takers may eat more than gallo pinto, but Nicaraguan givers sleep peacefully through the crowing roosters. Johnson, an incredibly talented athlete, embodies my definition of a Nicaraguan giver.

We met Johnson many years ago on Ometepe Island. I knew the minute I laid eyes on him, that he was special. This humble, gracious young man strives to be the very best in everything that he does. From working in the plantain fields with his father to training for an ultramarathon, to learning English, Johnson strives for perfection.

In February 2013, Johnson won his first grueling Survivor Run in the Fuego y Agua Race. For over 16 hours, he raced up and down volcanoes, dug holes, swam with a raw egg strapped to his head, carried a 20 ft. bamboo pole up Maderas volcano, climbed coconut trees, carried a live chicken, and hauled 50 pounds of firewood on his back. After the race, I asked Johnson, “Are you tired?” He replied, “A little bit,” with a sheepish grin on his face.

That’s Johnson..remarkably cool, calm, and humble after competing with world-class athletes. Johnson never had any formal training. He just likes to run. So, with the help of several sponsors, he has now entered a new realm…a new world…much bigger than his tiny tropical island home. He is training and practicing in the U.S. for six months with a goal to return to Nicaragua and compete for a spot in the 1216 Olympics.

I am so outrageously proud of Johnson! I know he’s a little homesick and it will take a while for him to adjust to such a different world beyond Ometepe Island. He told me he learned how to make gallo pinto, but not like his mother’s! I told him that was a good skill to learn because his body is craving the life force of Nicaragua. I have no doubt that Johnson will return a winner. He has been given an opportunity of a lifetime and I have faith that he’ll return to proudly represent Nicaragua in the 2016 Olympics.

Wish him luck! He’s competing in his first race this weekend: The Spartan Race in Texas! Go Johnson!

Read more about Johnson, here: La Prenza

Only Two Racers Arrive Alive

The Survivor Run of the Fuego y Agua Ultra-marathon held on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua on February 16, 2013 was an incredible event. We volunteered in the Survival Run and were fortunate to be able to follow the Global News crew from one obstacle to another, up and down Maderas volcano, through the cloud forest, and across the beach.  I still can’t imagine running up and down the volcano, climbing and chopping down trees, carrying a chicken, then carrying 50 pounds of firewood (after being handcuffed by the police), balancing a 20 ft. bamboo pole for miles, digging a hole on the beach, and swimming to an island inhabited only by monkeys in the dark, dark night of the sweet, sweet sea. Twenty hours later, two racers arrived alive. Out of 37 racers, only two finished the race…Pac and my hero, Johnson, the winner. By the way, the other racers survived…barely!

The family that volunteers together, stays together.

The Goehring family portraitThe Global News video of the Survival Run is HERE. I hope you enjoy a glimpse of our island of peace and these amazing racers. It is a well-done 25 minute video. Enjoy.

One Heart: Paul captured the essence of Ometepe Island. Beautiful!


Being last has its privileges. Being last provides you with even more drive to do better next time. Being last enables you to witness your surroundings just a wee bit more. Being last allows you to capture that memorable footage of your journey on camera and then introduce that action as the very reason for why you were last. Pretty clever wouldn’t you say? No shame here. I was last.
I practice Buddhism. Not devoutly like my wife. Not always consistently, but I try. For whatever reason, I find myself on the fence with any organized religion. But I try. I do see the benefits usually when least expected.
Before I left for Nicaragua, my wife asked me to be sure to keep prayer in my heart during my run. She reminded me to thank the Guardians of the Law for my protection on the volcano.
Our theme for this…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Moving Forward

Advancing…always moving forward…athletes from around the world participate in the Fuego y Agua Ultramarathon Survival Run on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Advancing with heavy logs..pushing their endurance to the max.


Advancing with 50 pound stacks of firewood..testing their limits of strength
carrying wood copy

Advancing into possibly shark infested waters…testing their fears of the unknown

Advancing with 20 ft bamboo poles up the volcano..testing balance

Advancing through cloud forests and jungles…testing agility

Advancing with humor, kissing a live chicken for 5 miles….always moving forward with a positive and determined attitude.
adam kisses his chicken copy

Survival of the Fittest

The Fuego y Agua Survival Run, held February 16th on Ometepe Island, as told through Charles Darwin quotes. At the bottom of the page, you can read several blogs from the Survival runners for details of their experiences.

“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” ~ Charles Darwin

chickens at starting line copy

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” ~ Charles Darwin


“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” ~ Charles Darwin

IMG_1919“An American Monkey after getting drunk on Brandy would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.” ~ Charles Darwin

Johnson in tree copy“The plow is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man’s inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly plowed, and still continues to be thus plowed by earthworms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.” ~ Charles Darwin


“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” ~ Charles Darwin

Corinne snuggles with her chicken copy

“I am not apt to blindly follow the lead of other men.” ~ Charles Darwin

Johnson wins the Survival Race.

Johnson wins the Survival Race.

“Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.”~ Charles Darwin


“Blushing is the most peculiar and most human of all expressions.”~ Charles Darwin


Pac and Johnson blush with excitement. They are the only two finishers of the Survival Run.

“…for the shield may be as important for victory, as the sword or spear.”~ Charles Darwin

The four medals collected throughout the obstacle course

The four medals collected throughout the obstacle course

Blogs from the Survival Runners:

1. From the Tread

2. Barb Wire for Breakfast

3. A True Once in a Lifetime Adventure

4. Dirt in Your Skirt

5. I Did Fail: A Recap of the Craziest Race of My Life

Next post will be a recap of the 25K, 50K, 100K, and children’s 5K. Throughout the weekend, I was awed and inspired by the dedication, determination, and survival skills of all the competitors. Congratulations to everyone! It was an amazing race.