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Willie McBride Tuesday, 01 April 2014 12:11 TWEET COMMENTS 1

Running in the Cathedral of Patagonia - Page 2

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Photo by Eduardo Hernandez

“We have focused on creating an experience that isn't only a physical and mental challenge,” says Stjepan Pavicic, the founder and director of the Patagonian International Marathon, “but one that sends a message to the world: we must preserve this remote and pristine region of southern Patagonia.”

The PIM draws an international crowd of running folk to its spectacular stage, including many of our sport’s elite like Krissy Moehl, Yassine Diboun and Ryan Sandes. Runners from more than 22 countries have already signed up for the 2014 race, to run one of the four distances offered: 10K, half marathon, marathon and 63K. Each race distance starts at a different point along the course, but all end together at the Hotel Las Torres beneath the looming, snow-splotched granite castle of Monte Almirante Nieto.

Aid stations are placed throughout but runners will notice one distinct difference when visiting them—there are no cups to drink from. To stay in line with the focus on sustainability and NIGSA’s Leave No Trace policy, the PIM is a cup-free event; runners are required to carry either a water bottle or bladder system instead. Another practical reason for this is the region’s infamous wind and its propensity for strewing disposable cups all over the landscape.

Despite the emphasis on drawing runners from around the world, the locals definitely represent: 77 percent of participants are from Chile. In the past two years some heavy-hitters have come out, including Omar Aguilar, the legendary Chilean athlete who ran a 2:12 at the Rotterdam Marathon and Rodrigo Errazuriz, a Chilean who previously held the fastest known time for the “O” and W” circuits in the Torres del Paine National Park.

Without the land, where would the huemul roam? Where would the condors, guanacos, pumas and rhea be? Where would our feet strike? The toothy, wind-carved peaks and sculpted valleys are a magnetic draw. Most people just haven’t experienced such vast, untouched terrain before; 63 percent of registered entrants to the 2014 race will be visiting the Torres del Paine National Park for the first time.

“The mountains I’d only viewed in photos were waking up in the sunlight,” wrote the women’s 63K winner in 2013, American Krissy Moehl, in her blog, “the remaining snow fields of late spring catching and reflecting the first light and the grand silhouettes then making you tip your head back to take in their full shape.”

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Krissy Moehl wins the 2013 PIM. Photo by Ariel Traipe.



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