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How to run a marathon in Patagonia

 

The fifth annual Patagonian International Marathon is just around the corner! Come mid-September, the roads of Ultima Esperanza Province will thunder with the pounding of runners’ shoes as competitors from all over the world race through some of the most staggeringly beautiful scenery on Earth!

First held in 2012, the race has drawn athletes from more than 40 countries, all running to raise awareness for conservation, environmentalism efforts, and regional tourism.

We know, we know - you’re probably lacing up your running shoes now, pressing ‘play’ on your “get pumped” playlist of choice, and fitting to head here for the marathon! Please do come, we welcome you!

But first, how exactly does one run a marathon at the end of the world?

A marathon in isolated Patagonia presents its own unique set of challenges. Not only are you competing against your fellow runners, you’ll also be competing against the elements, such as Patagonia’s infamously notorious weather. With the race falling on the cusp of late winter/early spring in Chile, unpredictable weather can include high winds, rain, and chilly days.

We’ve assembled a list of items (both physical and mental!) we think will come in handy for getting the most out of your time at the Patagonia Marathon, and don’t forget to join us for the EcoCamp Runner's Stay so you can enjoy a few days of well-earned rest after the race and get the opportunity to see more of Torres del Paine’s highlights!

1. General marathon information:

  • Location: This year, the race will take place in the Ultima Esperanza province of the Chilean Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica region. The race route is located on the outskirts of Torres del Paine National Park, with the park to the southeast, and the nearby town of Puerto Natales to the northeast.
  • Length: The race is divided into three different lengths: marathon (42km), half-marathon (21km), and 10km. The starting points are staggered depending on the length you plan to run, but all lengths finish at the same finish line at Villa Serrano near an entrance to the park.
  • Temperatures: On average, around this time of the year, temperatures can vary from 2-10 degrees Celsius (35-50 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Runners Categories: Hares (16-17, 10K only!), guanacos (18-29), pumas (30-39), huemules (40-49), zorros (50-59), condores (60+).
  • Start Time: The 42k begins at 9:00 am, the 21 and 10k starts one hour later at 10:00 am
  • Registration: Registration closes on August 31st. Pricing depends on time of registration and length of race. More information can be found here: http://www.patagonianinternationalmarathon.com/en/registration/
  • More questions: Please refer to the marathon’s official FAQ page here: http://www.patagonianinternationalmarathon.com/en/faq/

2. Dress in layers:

Break out your best running gear! Many popular marathons take place in more temperate locales and usually in late spring/early summer, but running a marathon at the far end of the world requires more than physical preparation! Packing a good selection of running gear so you can be prepared for any kind of weather or can either add on or take off unnecessary clothing during the race will give you peace of mind so you can concentrate all your energy on what’s really important: running that marathon the best you can! Here’s some of our all-weather gear recommendations:

  • Wicking socks
  • Moisture wicking/flexible/warm running tights or pants
  • Insulated waterproof running jacket
  • Warm headband or beanie
  • Sturdy running shoes that can handle gravel, asphalt, and are comfortable on both flat, climbing, and declining terrain.
  • A good reusable water bottle
  • Runner’s sunglasses
  • Sunscreen (even in winter, the atmosphere in Patagonia is very thin and it’s better safe than sorry.)
  • Baseball cap or visor in case of sun 
  • A listening device with your favorite marathon music! Or leave the music for another time, and let the sounds of Patagonian nature and your fellow runners motivate you through the race!

Also, remember that the cool weather is your friend! Running in chilly weather is actually better because it allows your body to warm up naturally whilst exercising, so it’s better to dress slightly warmer at the beginning of the race and you can then shed clothes as the race goes on to maintain the perfect body temperature. But at the same time, don’t dress too warmly! Then you run the risk of being overdressed and too warm, which will affect your performance. Check out this “What to Wear” personalization tool from Runnersworld.com to pinpoint what works best for you!

http://www.runnersworld.com/what-to-wear

3. Train in advance!

We’re not going to try to tell you how to prepare - many runners attending the marathon will be seasoned pros who, after years of running for sport and fun, will have developed their own practice route that works for them! But here’s a few pointers we think may be helpful for prepping, especially if you’ve never run in a climate and terrain like Patagonia:

  • The terrain for the race will be on alternating gravel and asphalt surfaces, on twisty, curving low-mountain roads with changing slopes. So we recommend training on a variation of gravel and asphalt surfaces, and either find low hill running routes in your area or crank up the height and resistance on your treadmill!
  • Be patient with yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard or to go too far. Traveling to new places can throw even the most experienced athletes, so if you’re slightly off your game or aren’t hitting your stride, don’t stress or let it throw you off.
  • If you can, go for a test run a day or two before the marathon. This will help you adjust to the current temperature, the climate, and the landscape, and will take some of the unpredictability out of race day.

4. Stay hydrated and well fed

Chilean Patagonia is relatively isolated, and any favorite snacks you may like to indulge in pre, during, or post race may not be available in the town of Puerto Natales! So if you have any must-have snack bars or other foods, be sure to pack some and take them from home (but be sure to declare them with Chilean customs when you enter the country).

There will be aid stations along the route (the number varies depending on the marathon length you choose to run) so there will be chances to refill water bottles and catch a quick breath.

5. Learn more about the area

You’ve traveled all this way to Patagonia, it’d be a shame not to have some background about this beautiful landscape and the diverse species of flora and fauna that call it home!

It’s important to stay focused on the race while running, but at the same time, be sure to be aware of your surroundings as you will probably see some of the area’s wildlife! Torres del Paine National Park boasts of an amazing natural selection of animals. While running and exploring the park, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for: guanacos, Andean condors, the Huemul deer, the Magellanic woodpecker, and other species!

Torres del Paine and its surrounding consist of a variety of shrubland, forests, mountains, lakes, and pampas (grassy plains). The race route will roughly follow the shoreline of Lago Torre, so you’re sure to be in for some phenomenal views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

If you’re participating in the EcoCamp Runner’s Stay after the marathon, you’ll have the chance to see some of Torres del Paine’s most famous views closer up on day trips, such as the famous Torres granite tours, Cerro Paine, Laguna Azul, and the Salto Grande waterfall. Our guides are highly knowledgeable about the area’s flora and fauna, history, geography and geology, and more, and are ready to answer your questions!

6. Have fun!

At the end of the day, this may be the most important rule of all! You’ve ventured all the way to Chilean Patagonia to run surrounded by some of the Mother Nature’s best creations - relish the experience! Let the chilly air fill your lungs, find your rhythm, and just go for it!

Do you have any essential marathon preparation tips? Let us know in the comments!

Learn more about the EcoCamp Runner’s Stay here: https://www.cascada.travel/en/Tour/Patagonia-Intl-Marathon-Runners-EcoCamp-Stay?sku=PATIMP

For more information about the Patagonian International Marathon, please click here:http://www.patagonianinternationalmarathon.com/