Willie McBride April 01, 2014 TWEET COMMENTS 1

Running in the Cathedral of Patagonia - Page 3

Photo by Eduardo Hernandez.

Looking at the racecourse on a map, there appears to be almost more water than land. You can imagine massive sheets of ice shaving the granite spires and carving the myriad smooth, bowl-like depressions into the land for the water to catch. The names of the lagos and lagunas add to the mystique: Grey, Pehoe, Toro, Sarmiento de Gamboa, Verde, Amarga. Scattered amongst the brown, earth-toned landscape these bodies of water contrast so starkly that their colors pop out at you, playing with your eyes.

“The sky was cobalt and the lakes were pristine and emerald and aqua blue,” says Portland, Oregon’s Yassine Diboun, who placed third in last year’s 63K. “A couple times, while being transported in a 15-passenger van, I completely missed the question someone asked me because I was so enthralled by the dramatic peaks jutting out of earth.”

The PIM’s commitment to and belief in the symbiotic partnership of animals, land and people is underscored by an event they host on the day after the big race, a group trek to the viewpoint of Las Torres—Torre Sur, Torre Central and Torre Norte, the namesake features of the park that loom like giant smooth-sided daggers, knifing into the blue sky. The viewpoint is perched overlooking a turquoise lake that sits below the water-streaked walls of granite. Wind typically races around these scoured faces, shrieking and whining in its fierce velocity. Like being in a great cathedral or place of worship, it’s the kind of place that makes you feel small.

The intent of the outing is stated concisely on the race weekend itinerary—“to share the experience of walking in the mountains, enjoying the landscape and communal environment of the group.”

The chances of seeing a huemul on the group trek may be slim but that’s ok. Runners, their legs likely sore from the race the day before, can gaze up at the sky-scraping torres, maybe even spotting the massive wing span of a condor far above. They can feel the pulse of the wind and see the energy of it in the blowing grass while knowing that their efforts are helping secure the future of the animals, land and people of Chilean Patagonia.

Photo by Miroslav Rodriguez.

Patagonian International Marathon
September 27, 2014


  • Distances: 10K, half marathon, marathon and 63K
  • Registration: Open until August 28, 2014 or when the capacity of 1,000 runners has been reached.
  • Getting There: Fly to Punta Arenas, then take a bus ($10 for the three-hour trip) to Puerto Natales.
  • Where to Stay: Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales both have a full selection of hotels and hostels

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Willie McBride is an ultrarunner and writer as well as the co-owner/coach and trainer at Animal Athletics in Portland, Oregon. This year he is excited to tackle (and write about) the Tahoe 200, his first 200-mile race.


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