Photo Credit: Jeff Genova

Photo Credit: Jeff Genova

The dust has settled on another year at FUEGO Y AGUA NICARAGUA and my third trip to the island of Ometepe is complete. Now settled comfortably back in the United States in a smog filled Salt Lake City I can take the time to reflect on FUEGO Y AGUA NICARAGUA. Each year has been a different journey for me and this year I spent most of the trip observing others and learned several lessons from watching and listening, coupled with past experience, I bring you these 5 lessons should you choose to take on FYA in the future.

Lesson 1 – BE HUMBLE

IMG_7137Humility will get you far in all FUEGO Y AGUA ENDURANCE events. No matter the location these events are unlike your typical (fill in the blank) races. Sitting around before SURVIVAL RUN NICARAGUA I listened to many athletes expound upon past glories, and already plotting out their finish for this year’s race.

When I look at who some of the most vocal people were going into the race to where they finished. Many either didn’t achieve the first medal, quit or got cut on a time hack within the first two challenges.

On the flip side, I listened to Dylan Morgan, Curtis Pote, Helene Dumais, and others speak of the race in a different tone. All competitors of course wanted to finish but knew you can’t assume anything. Morgan (who would tie for the win) kept saying all week he had no expectation of finishing and was just happy to be part of it all. Even during the race, he was in disbelief of his placing.

Everyone who finished the SURVIVAL RUN NICARAGUA and those as well who finished the FUEGO Y AGUA NICARAGUA TRAIL RUNS 50K and 100K all had to put their egos aside in order to succeed.



IMG_7211In both the trail runs and SURVIVAL RUN, the key to success was often not who was the fastest but who was the most consistent. Since coming back home, several people have asked about SURVIVAL RUN NICARAGUA and asked about who finishes the race.

In the first few years of the race it was the seemingly super humans who finished the event, but as the years have gone on a different story has emerged. Not all people who finish SURVIVAL RUN NICARAGUA are fast, but they all are consistent.

None of them waste time relaxing between challenges or break along the way all finishers move forward and never stop moving until they reach the finish line or get timed out.


Lesson 3 – BE GRATEFUL

IMG_6383Each trip to Ometepe reminds us to be grateful for all we have in our everyday lives. A week plus living without hot water (at times no water), consistent wifi, and more is always grounding. Each time I come home, I remember most of my problems are 1st world problems.

For example this year, Sidney, who has worked on the race since it’s inception was robbed of her tutition money on the way to pay for her university only weeks before the race. Many generous racers pooled some resources to help fund her schooling for the semester. The cost for her schooling for the semester – $200.00 – an amount many in first world countries will spend on a night out or a good dinner. She works all year to make the money to pay for school.

A week abroad to a developing country reminds you to be grateful for all we have and take for granted in developed countries, including a functioning infrastructure.


Lesson 4 – OBEY THE 72-HOUR RULE

IMG_7845Races like SURVIVAL RUN NICARAGUA can bring on a lot of emotions in the competitors. From personal experience as well as observation, adhering to the 72-hour rule is important. The 72-hour rule refers to the amount of time you should let pass before critiquing and criticizing a race.

As I waited for racers to fill into checkpoints 16-, 18-, and 20-hours into SURVIVAL RUN NICARAGUA I had some moments to check out Facebook. To see people critiquing the race before it was over was a bummer. The race hadn’t yet finished and already people were Monday morning quarterbacking.

From experience and making the mistake myself, obey the 72-hour rule. Refain from the quarterbacking for 3 days after the race ends before sharing. By all means check in with loved ones and family, tell them you are alive, share that much online, but give the race a few days to sink in before criticizing it. At the very least let the racers who are running finish before critizing it, give those who are still competing that much.




Photo Credit: Jeff Genova

Running races like SURVIVAL RUN NICARAGUA and FUEGO Y AGUA NICARAGUA TRAIL RUNS is as much taking in the culture as it is running a race. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the racing and forget you are in an entirely different culture.

Over the years, I have learned to interact with the locals more, even in my broken Spanish. This year, I spent hours at Los Ramos aid station interacting with the locals (mostly through smiles and gestures) and with the local nurse Ruth whom I tried my best to use all the Spanish I could muster. Even without fully speaking the language I got more out of those moments trying to talk about our lives than anything a tour could possibly give me.

While this trip was almost all work, I am constantly reminded how important it is to take in all the little aspects of life and to enjoy truly the full experience.


For those looking to head to FUEGO Y AGUA ENDURANCE events in the future, those are my small pearls of wisdom gleaned from three years in Nicaragua and one Hunter Gatherer. 

Margaret Schlachter

About Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter is Founder of She has been part of the OCR Community since 2010. When not working on the next article she can be found running from race-to-race. She is Editor-in-Chief of She authored the book Obstacle Race Training.
This entry was posted in Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 5 Lessons Learned from FUEGO Y AGUA ENDURANCE NICARAGUA

  1. Katherine Cañete says:

    Muchísimas gracias por compartir tus experiencias

  2. Gritty Kitty Gritty Kitty says:

    Good read Margaret!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to posts:

  •   Hyper Vest SXY and FIT from
  • Instagram

    • Having fun providing @mudrunguide coverage at World’s Toughest Mudder. I am in love 😍 playing with my new lenses on my camera. Most of the photos are over on Facebook.
#wtm2018 #wtm #obstacleracing #toughmudder @tough_mudder
    • Made it to Atlanta to cover World’s Toughest Mudder. Every year I get nostalgic about the first year of WTM in 2011.
Can’t wait to cover the action for @mudrunguide. With the temps predicted in the 30’s overnight I excited to see how the new venue plays out.
Excited to get to work tomorrow.
#wtm #wtm2018 #toughmudder #obstaclecourseracing #mudrunguide #ocr #tbt
    • Have you heard of the online community @trail_sisters?
We have the story behind this huge movement encouraging more women’s voice in the outdoor industry and getting more women on the trails.
@ginalucrezi shared her passion and mission on this week’s podcast.
Temp Link in Bio
#podcast #trailsisters #womenwhotrailrun #findyourtribe #findyourtrail #womenrunning #allwomenalltrails #speakyourtruth #womenpodcast #getoutside #trailrunning #trailrunnersunite #runwithher
    • How many times as a kid did someone tell you to “take a deep breath” - if you are like me, a lot.
Breathing is essential to life and yet so much of the time we don’t breathe deeply. A couple years ago I did the @iceman_hof method course, documenting the journey.
Above the cold training and pushups the greatest gift after the course was a renewed focus on breathing and deep breaths.
Yet years later it’s so easy to forget. These days when stress levels are high or I have too much on my mind, I head out into nature and breathe.
Whether it’s getting my heart pounding on a run or slowing it down and focusing on deep breaths. It’s a simple and free self care technique that pays you back 10x.
When was the last time you truly took a deep breath?
#mondaytrailrun #trailtherapy #trailrunning #selfcare #justbreathe #speakyourtruth #utah #keepacoolhead #teamheadsweats #getoutside #goodr
    • This house took Halloween to the next level...
#houseon9th #jurassicpark #jurassicworld #halloween #lawnart #winewalk #vitamincommunity #saltlakecity #utahunique #epichalloween
    • Did you catch the new episode with @runningrosie released yesterday?
We had a raw, unfiltered conversation about motherhood, childbirth, body image, balance, competition, being a professional athlete, and life. Sounds heavy but as always we laughed along the way.
It was great having her back on the podcast 109 episodes after her first go around. If you missed the first time on the podcast talking about her childhood, check out episode 25.
#spartan #motherhood #nofilter #speakyourtruth #podcast #womeninspiringwomen #womenpodcasters #womeninpodcasting #ocr #obstaclecourseracing #obstacleracing #anw #friendship #spartanrace #realtalk💯
    • Fall means leaves changing, colder days, and the pond currently looks like a tea but makes some great reflections on a sunny day.
Sometimes there just isn’t time to get to the mountains but it doesn’t mean you can spend some time outside doing backyard chores.
#fallinlovewithfall #fall #winteriscoming #backyarddesign #pond #yardart #getoutside #loveyourspace #utahgram #hiddenspaces
    • Friends come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. One thing I’ve learned throughout the years is whether a friend is a next door neighbor you see everyday or someone you see once a year, it’s important to find those who have you back.
Sefra @puddyrara and I met in the woods of Vermont during the Peak 500. Little did I know the adventures we would embark on.
From the volcanos 🌋 of Nicaragua to Showing up during WTM in Vegas, stopping for an overnight in SLC, or outside Miami for a 24-hour BattleFrog (RIP). Or like this picture in Tahoe for the @spartan world championships.
I literally never know where in the world I will see her but I know we will have deep conversations about plants, seeds, life, spirit, and generally freak out everyone as they mostly have no idea what we are talking about.
Friends don’t have to be people you talk to or see daily. They just need to be your ally and have your back in a jam.
I’m lucky and blessed to be part of the slingshot mafia with this lady.
Blessing Sefra! Also I have no idea why this picture is so funny but it is to me.
#gratitude #friendship #blessings #spartanfriends #spartan #worldtraveling #worldwidefriends #speakyourtruth #findyourtribe #travelbuddies #spartanog #spartanwomen
    • One jar of trash a year for a family of four!
Sounds impossible at first but Bea Johnson of @zerowastehome is on the podcast to talk about how it’s not that hard. In fact Bea talks about how it frees up so many other aspects of life. So you can spend more time and money doing the thing you want while producing less waste in the world 🌎!
Do you think you could live in a zero-waste home?
Find the latest episode on your favorite player or link in my bio.
#zerowastehome #zerowaste #zerowasteliving #podcast #womenpodcasters #zerowastecollective  #podcastforwomen #minimalism #savetheplanet #savemotherearth #5rs #livelighter #onejarchallenge #reducereuserecycle #reducewaste #reduceplastic

    Follow Me!