A marathon is one of the toughest physical challenges in the world. And if you’re one of the ladies or gents that have conquered the mighty marathon in your home city, we have the next challenge for you. Ready? We challenge you to the same distance but in the desert – Chilean desert!
Some very organised people are already gearing up for the next Volcano Marathon in Chile that takes place every November.
The meeting point for the Volcano Marathon is San Pedro de Atacama. Of course, you expected it to be right in the heart of the driest desert in the world. The marathon itself starts at an altitude of 14,682 feet, near the Tropic of Capricorn. With over 26-mile of terrain to contend with (which is ran from point to point rather than a circular route), you’ll enjoy unrivalled view of 10 volcanoes. After all, this is one of the world’s highest elevation marathons. Needless to say, you’ll have unrivalled views of just about everything.
As it usually takes a little while to get acclimatised, there are a couple of training runs before the big day. While we’re settling down for a sad desk sandwich, the marathon entrants are warming up for their practice run around The Valley of Death. By the way, this is where NASA tests their equipment before sending it to Mars.
Believe it or not, it’s not just the altitude and rough terrain that runners have to contend with (the route is 75% dirt roads). There are some drastic changes in temperature. At the start of the race it’s likely that there will be snow on the ground. What about the end? Runners can expect temperatures of 30°C. The air is dry. The route looks like a barren wasteland. Those hoards of people you’re used to seeing at the London Marathon aren’t lining the course here. And for large parts of the journey, over sand dunes and down rocky roads, the runners will be alone.
The physical and mental challenges of a marathon are multiplied ten-fold in an environment this harsh. And if you decide that you need a bit of a breather, you can always stop and say hello to a curiously onlooking llama. Careful, though. They can run up to 35mph and they might just give you a run for your money as you race towards the finish line.
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
The race takes place every November.
What you need to know:
Despite the altitude, organisers say that if you can run or walk the route comfortably, you won’t need any more training than that. So grab those trainers and get started!