Before September 2013 Patagonia was a cool company and a logo on my jacket. I knew that it was a far-away place that many outdoor adventurers visit, but honestly didn’t think I’d get the opportunity to travel there (especially for running) at this stage in my life. How did I get so lucky?! I’ll tell you. The Chilean Board of Tourism and the event organizers made it possible for some athletes to come down to promote the growth of the race, and the inaugural 63k distance of this 2nd year event. Grateful and honored I accepted the offer, but even after I arrived to the southern tip of Chile (after a very long journey!) I could not believe I was actually there staring at the majestic mountains and lakes. It was surreal for sure!
Runners, Journalists, Photographers, Friends! Photo by: ILoveRunn.com
On Friday we all made it to the beautiful resort-like hotel in Torres Del Paine National Park that hosted the pasta party and pre-race meeting. Large windows on the backside of the building showcased the magnificent towers gleaming alpenglow. It was a quick turnaround to race morning which revealed itself to be clear, no wind, but quite chilly. We enjoyed a “warm-up” run on a beach alongside a glacial lake (Lago Grey). It was such a gorgeous morning and all the ultra runners gathered there were excited to get moving through the expansive park. Stephon (the race director) gave us some words of wisdom, encouragement, instruction, and a great smile before sending us off on our way! Check out the video below of our start!
About five or six of us darted across the beach of Lago Grey and up into the trails for a short time before hitting the dirt roads of Torres Del Paine National Park. Once we hit the road the pack dwindled down to four: Billy Barnett, Ryan Sandes, a local Chilean, and myself. The air was very brisk, but the pace was HOT! I would say that we (I) didn’t go slower than a 6:30 per mile pace for at least the first couple of hours. We all traded off the lead at times and only spoke a few words to each other as the miles ticked by. I think we all were in such utter amazement of the backdrop and natural beauty around us that we were just awestruck! In fact, at one point we noticed four or five wild white horses over on the hillside. Billy joked that they were unicorns, and it wouldn’t have surprised me because that place is truly magical! Check out the video below by Francisco Fuentes of the white horses running…You gotta see this!
I would say that around the 20k mark while running just behind Ryan and Billy I started noticing a “rubbing” pain in my right hip area. I could have probably done a bit more road running in preparation for this event but I didn’t. The hard, flat, sustained terrain was starting to beat me up. My gait changed and because of this compensation, I started developing some issues in my left hamstring after another 10k or so. It turned into what one journalist called a “hobble-hop”. Even though I was still covering some ground my pace slowed considerably. The 4th place Chilean was not far behind me and it was a game of cat-and-mouse as we started hitting the hillier parts of the course. I could descend the hills fine but the climbing was really aggravating the areas affected. I figured out a way to deal with it, and every time I got negative or felt pain or discomfort, I just looked up and around at the awesome mountains!
I’ve run enough ultras to know how to grind it out, and that’s exactly what I did. Honestly, though, I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t being caught from behind because at times I was even walking up some of the hills as my stomach started going a little sour as well. I think we put in so many fast miles at the beginning that I had a bit of a cushion. If the race were a few miles longer I am sure that the next guy behind me, and Krissy would have passed me!
Finally, I made my way to the finish line festivities in 3rd place overall (& 2nd in my age group). It was a great big party with all three distances of the race finishing in the same place. The weather was so good all day and we really lucked out! Even though it was not my strongest race I was proud to have gotten my first international finish (unfortunately I had to drop out of Fuego y Agua in Nicaragua in February 2013). Patagonian International Marathon will always have a special place in my heart for that reason, and much more! Thanks to Nick Barazza, Drew Weiman, Stephan (RD), and to all volunteers!
Following the race, we rested up and Krissy Moehl and I had visions of doing a 3-day trek in the park (mostly hiking) on the “O”. Unfortunately, the “O” was closed, so we decided on the “W” route, which turned out to be so much fun! We were able to “catch up”, take many pictures, & meet many folks along the way. What an adventure! Check out the short video of Krissy and me (below) on the “W” route in Torres Del Paine National Park. This is another huge reason to visit this race!
Shoes worn for the race: Inov-8 TrailRoc 235′s – Perfect choice for the road and trail combo!
Socks: Drymax Trail Mini Crew. No blisters! Happy feet for both the race and the trek
Now it is officially “OFF SEASON” for me after a highly ambitious year! Thank you so much to my supportive wife, Erica, business partner Willie, friends and family, and of course my SPONSORS who are so generous to me. I could not have had this type of year without your support. Thank you!
It was so nice to meet so many folks down in Chile. I can’t recommend this place enough. Krissy and I both agreed that initially, we thought that this was a trip of a lifetime, but now we realize we HAVE to return!