July 13, 2010
Fate intervened once before.
And this time, former Calgarian Maria Zambrano hopes money — or the lack thereof — doesn’t end her dream of representing Canada at the world mountain running championships.
Back in 2001, Zambrano made the national team and had a flight booked for the worlds. Unfortunately, it was scheduled for Sept. 11, a day that will forever be etched into the history of the modern world.
"She was unable to attend as her flight did not leave Calgary," wrote Zambrano’s husband, Steve Tober, by e-mail. "The sponsorship money was returned to her sponsor."
As has been documented previously on this blog, Steve and Maria left Calgary several years ago to teach in Quito, Ecuador.
"She is a keen mountain runner and has been training on the volcano out of our back door below Quito, at a starting altitude of 2,300 metres," says Steve.
The couple returned to Alberta last week to give Maria, who is now 39, one last shot at making the national team.
All the training seemed to pay off, with Maria finishing third overall among women and as the first Canadian female.
Although she’s no longer a resident of Canada, she’s still eligible to take the automatic qualifying spot as a Canadian citizen.
"I think it was a pretty good race in spite of changing the course at the last minute," says Maria, via e-mail. "I’ve been training at a high altitude and I felt good ... I could stay close and keep the American girls in sight for most of the race.
"The last 300 metres was tough. I’m very happy to be the first Canadian."
Unfortunately, a potential roadblock emerged when Steve and Maria starting counting the cost of attending the worlds, which will be held Sept. 5 in Kamnik, Slovenia.
"It would take more than $3,000 to get her there and only $350 of that would be covered," says Steve. "We are looking to raise (the money) by July 24, the deadline set by the Canadian Mountain Running Association.
"This may be her last chance to represent Canada at a world class level, as she will turn 40 this October."
Adrian Lambert, one of five men who sealed a spot on the Canadian team Friday, confirmed via e-mail that some financial support is available for athletes who have qualified for the worlds.
"The Edmonton Thunder track club, together with the Canmore Challenge, has offered some funding support to the top finishers at the race, which would be used towards flights to Slovenia," he said. "For example, Taylor Murphy and Maria Zambrano have been offered $350 towards their flights. We are currently (working) with other sponsors to raise more money for the national team."
If anyone is interested in sponsoring Maria, you can contact her at Stevetober1@gmail.com