Running in the Cathedral of Patagonia
Patagonian International Marathon aims to bring awareness to environmental issues of Chilean Patagonia
Photo by Eduardo Hernandez
On Chile’s coat of arms, opposite a regal condor, is a crowned animal with a coffee-colored coat and coal-black hooves. This creature, known as a huemul, is a type of South Andean deer that, unfortunately, due to poaching, logging and food scarcity, is at risk for going extinct.
As the huemul population decreases, another species is on the rise worldwide—trail runners. An organization called the Nomadas International Group South America (NIGSA) believes that our burgeoning group of two-legged animals should do something for these four-legged friends and help conserve the habitat they, and we, depend upon.
Three years ago, NIGSA founded the Patagonian International Marathon (PIM), a footrace held on the unpaved roads of the stunning Torres del Paine National Park. The idea behind the race is that trail runners are land lovers—and the more we connect with and love that land, the more likely we are to protect it and, in turn, the other animals who dwell there.
A quarter of the park's native forest was destroyed three years ago by a fire. Additionally, deforestation by logging companies is one of the foremost threats to the region—so, for every race participant, race organizers start by planting a tree in the park.