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Competitors Pull Together in Misfortune
Beating long odds, the team from Universidad del Valle de Guatemala is set to make its Eco-marathon debut thanks to timely help from some fellow competitors.
Students from the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala prepare their car for the race at Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013 on Friday, April 5, 2013 in downtown Houston.
To say the least, it’s been a rough journey to Houston for the team from Universidad del Valle de Guatemala.
The team hadn’t planned to be here this year at all, planning instead on the 2014 Eco-marathon. But unexpected funding for this year’s event turned up last November, spurring a break-neck to get ready in time. The flight from Guatemala was overbooked, so two of the five team members missed the trip. Most critically, air transport restrictions allowed the team to ship its car, but not its engine. Without an engine all their efforts would come to nothing.
Enter the team from Schurr High School of Montebello, California. As Eco-marathon veterans, team advisor Armando Hernandez and his students understood the challenges and were quick to help, offering the Guatemalans a spare engine and transportation around Houston to purchase additional parts.
“We know how much effort goes into the vehicles and competition, so it would be sad to see others make it all this way and not be able to participate,” said Leonardo Lopez, a member of the Schurr team. “In the long run, we feel like it’s better for the world if vehicles succeed in the competition, so we want to help.”
Working in tandem, the two teams hope to get the Guatemalan vehicle ready to compete on Houston streets this weekend.
“Since we got here, it’s been a mix of feelings – happy that we got here, frustrated by transportation issues, sad that some team members couldn’t be here but thankful for the help,” said Andrés Hernández, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala team manager.
Hernández adds that his team has been overwhelmed by the hospitality, generosity and camaraderie.
“Even though this is a competition, everyone has been really great and open in the paddock area about their work,” he said. “It feels like home.”