It all started with an email. An email from Toucan Rescue Ranch announcing the 4th annual Sloth Ironman Games. My initial reaction was, “How cool! They are hosting an Ironman Games at the Ranch! I’d consider doing that.” Then upon reading further, I realized, no, its an Ironman Games FOR the sloths. Well thats even more epic. Apparently its a fundraising campaign they do to celebrate International Sloth Day on October 20th and it’s a week of 4 different sloths ‘competing’ against each other in 4 sloth inspired games, including the 1 meter dash, hibiscus eating contest and the adorable poop off. (I highly encourage you to check out these videos by following Toucan Rescue Ranch on Facebook and Instagram, you won’t regret it.) Anyway, I was certainly amused by that and absolutely looking forward to it, however I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of doing my own Sloth IronWoman challenge as a way to raise money and awareness for sloths. At this point I’d already booked the trip and the marathon in Costa Rica, so I had the hardest activity planned. Or so I thought. After thinking long and hard about what events I wanted to tackle, I settled on climbing, running and….zip lining. Fuck ya. So in October with my best friend Tessa and my dog Lucky Duck, I climbed the Iron Nipple, a 13,000 ft mountain in southern Colorado. That was no easy climb let me tell you. The snow was deep and the rocks were..well, rocky. But it was an absolute adventure and I’d do it again for the sloths! A month and a half later, I find myself running 40 kilometers through the Cloud Forests of Monteverde, climbing never ending hills, slipping and sliding down a vertical muddy..I’m not even going to call that a trail..jogging through the jungle and small Tican towns, sloshing through rivers, again..for the sloths. Because sloths can’t run for themselves! 7 hours and 22 minutes later, I could officially say the second challenge of the Sloth IronWoman Games was accomplished. (This run was also the final race of my 7 month International High Five Challenge, but that’s a whole other blog.) So the climbing was done, the running was done, now came the fun part…zip-lining through the canopy where I could get a sloths eye view of the cloud forest and boy was it exhilarating. Opting to go for the SuperWoman zip line at the end, I hurtled face first into the clouds and once i got over the fear of crashing head first into a tree, i allowed myself to look down and soar over the trees as the wind and the mist kissed my face. As cliche as it sounds, all i could do was sing, “I believe I can flyyyyyyyyy”. Like, how can you not when your literally flying through the air. And of course I didn’t slam into a tree, instead a very skilled and flirtatious guide gracefully brought me in safely and got me out of my squirrel suite harness. Nobody said zip-lining was sexy.
With the zip line course done, I could officially say that I had completed the Sloth IronWoman challenge. Now all that was left to do was go see these sloths that I was running, climbing and zipping for. Obviously because I was visiting Costa Rica, I HAD to book a tour at Toucan Rescue Ranch, which is convienlty located a cheap Uber ride just northeast of San Jose. On the final day of my trip, I got to see a puddle of sloths, a peeing sloth, a basket of 5 week old baby sloths, a sloth eating a green bean, sloth high school, sloth preschool, a sloth thats afraid of the rain and a solitary three-toed sloth. Ya, it’s as magical as it sounds. I also got to see toucans, a tayra, Mexican Hairy porcupines, a kinkajou, a miniature version of a honey badger (they also didn’t give a fuck) and an otter that likes to play with tourists and butterflies. There were also birds of prey, Amazon green parrots and macaws and spider monkeys oh my! As a wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation center, Toucan Rescue Ranch’s primairy goals are to release animals back into the wild and to educate children, park rangers, tourists and even the police force about the importance of conservation and keeping animals IN THE WILD. While they have some permanent residents who cannot be relesed due to injury or affinity for humans (such as previous pets and hand raised orphans), many of their animals get the proper care they need to recover and can be returned to the forest at the TRR Release Site. They also have a breeding program for Keel Billed Toucans and several owl species and have successfully released several generations back into the wild. It’s truly amazing and important work that they do and I am immensely grateful to everyone who donated to TRR and supported me on this challenge.
Leading up to my trip to Costa Rica, I upped my fundraising promotion by creating a Running for the Sloths page on Facebook where people could donate directly to Toucan Rescue Ranch. With a goal of $300, I was thrilled to see that goal surpassed thanks to donations from friends, family, strangers and anonymous donors alike. I figure if I’m going to do these crazy adventures, I may as well do them for a cause, for a reason. Because it’s not like I run for fun. So by tying it in with a charity, I can be doing these things with purpose, and the great memories and experiences are certainly an added perk 😉 But also, this is a way to get people involved in creating a better world. A world with more sloths! A world where people give more to charities than they do to Starbucks and Netflix, where $5 here to save the trees, $10 there for clean water access, $50 for humanitarian efforts across the globe, where people openly give as they are able. And people can show their support and their commitment without running 40 kilometers through the jungle. Im just saying, thats how committed I am to healing the planet, but folks can do it from home by simply donating to any of the various charitable organizations that I have ran for since June including Polar Bears International, Surfrider Organization, Lakota Way Healing Center, Humane Society, Elephant Crisis Fund and Toucan Rescue Ranch or any cause that is near and dear to your heart. I enjoy challenging myself, I enjoy adventures, and I enjoy exploring and healing our planet. I am excited to see where 2019 will take me and what else will inspire me! As always, thank you for following along on this journey. Stay happy, stay healthy, stay high!