Running the Atitlan Marathon to ensure Every Mother Counts

Giselle Gerardi & Every Mother Counts

Recently, Giselle Gerardi a member of Team EMC, ran the Atitlan Marathon in Guatemala for Every Mother Counts. Here is her story.

Giselle Gerardi, team Every Mother Counts runner and Maternal-Child Health Nurse

Every Mother Counts runs to raise funds and awareness for the challenges and solutions to maternal health. Various race distances are great metaphors for the average distances women in many developing countries have to travel, usually on foot, to reach basic and emergency maternity care during pregnancy and childbirth. Many times, distance and lack of transportation prevent women from reaching timely care needed to save their lives. We run so mothers don’t have to.

As a Maternal-Child Health Nurse for the past ten years, I know the issues pertaining to pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period. As a perinatal nurse I fight to ensure that women and their babies have safe and positive experiences. It is just remarkable to participate in the birth of a child and to play such a wonderful part in starting off a human being’s life. This year I am beginning my PhD studies in Nursing Science in order to make a greater contribution in the Maternal Child Health field.

The Atitlan Marathon has been deemed by ESPNrun.com as one of the top 10 best challenge marathons in the world. The race begins in Panajachel, a town that is 5,000 feet above sea level and you climb up to just under 7,500 feet above sea level in about four miles. The course meanders through small quaint villages, some of which have no electricity and the terrain is a mix of pavement, cobblestone, dirt.

On race day I felt good, but I was so nervous about the difference in elevation. It is hard to train for that plus the hill/mountain climbs when you live on Long Island! The race began and I felt great! I started talking to Angela, a runner next to me, and we encouraged each other on up the steep course.

We were soon joined by another runner “Dopey” who tagged along for the ascent. At Angela’s lowest moment, Dopey asked if she is a mother. She confirmed that she is, and Dopey reminded her that she had given life to another human and that there is literally nothing harder than that, and that together, we could all finish! It was such a touching moment for me as I was part this group of strangers who bonded through both running and the cause that I run for. I was moved beyond words. Talking about family and running was what got the three of us through to the very end. I shared information about Every Mother Counts, and the work that the organization supports to provideformal education to the indigenous midwives of the region.

Although I have visited Guatemala often, there was nothing like this experience.

I just want to thank Every Mother Counts for their noble efforts to improve maternal health and for shedding light and starting the discussion among people. As someone who works in this field, I know the statistics — but many don’t and that’s part of the problem. People think that these are problems that do not occur in the U.S., when in reality NY has one of the worst maternal morbidity rates in the United States. I appreciate your efforts and allowing me to be part of it!

Learn more about team Every Mother Counts here, and about Every Mother Counts’ work in Guatemala here.

Topics: Maternal Health