The race is a runner’s fantasy – trekking through an unparalleled wilderness, endorphins rushing, surrounded by scenery so delicious you wonder if you are still on Planet Earth.
But the Patagonian International Marathon is indeed on Planet Earth, and even better, the race is raising money to help protect Planet Earth.
The first marathon in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park will be held this year on September 23rd. Under the slogan “Running in and for Patagonia,” the race is being sponsored by the International Nomads Group South America (NIGSA), an environmental conservation and ecotourism company based in Punta Arenas.
Torres del Paine is a designated World Biosphere Reserve. Proceeds from the marathon will benefit the Huemul Conservation Project, which is raising money for scientific research of Chile’s endangered huemul animal population, along with Reforestemos Patagonia, a project aiming to plant 1 million trees in Patagonia, replacing those lost in January’s major forest fire.
At 9 am on race day, marathon competitors will surge forward from the starting line located near Puente Weber in Torres del Paine. The hilly course will follow gravel roads along winding Río Paine, to majestic lookout point Mirador Nordenskjöld.
Half-marathon participants join the race here at 11 am, near Lago Sarmiento de Gambóa. A 10-kilometer race begins at 12:30 pm towards the end of the marathon course. The race concludes at Hotel Las Torres, at the base of jagged and pristine Monte Almirante Nieto.
Throughout the first portion of the course, the elevation climbs gradually, peaking near the beginning of the 10-kilometer race, then dropping dramatically, before rising again and tapering a bit at the end. The route reaches a maximum elevation of approximately 2,500 meters.
Water stations will be provided every five kilometers, and fruit will also be available along the way.
Age categories for men and women are 16-17, 18-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60+.
Race participants of various levels of fitness and competitive aspirations will appreciate crisp, clean air, calm lakes, chiseled mountains and rock formations, spring wildflowers and hearty vegetation, and – most importantly – the running experience of a lifetime.
How to Register
Registration is open to 500 runners and closes on September 7. Runners may register directly via the Patagonian International Marathon website, or by purchasing special hotel packages that also contain transportation and lodging.
Race inscription includes a jersey, race number, a pasta dinner the night before the race, a barbeque following the race, closing ceremony, finisher’s medal, participant certificate, and a 50% discount on entry to Torres del Paine. Lodging, transportation to the starting line, and full entry to the park are not provided.
Where to Stay
Numerous hotels and hostels in and around Torres del Paine offer special rates and packages to race participants, typically including transportation to and from Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales, along with transportation to the race itself.
September 23rd is early spring in South America, but the Patagonian weather can be fickle. Expect temperatures between 6 degrees and -2 degrees Celsius, with a good possibility of wind, rain and/or snow.
How to arrive
Torres del Paine is located 393 km from Punta Arenas and 147 km from Puerto Natales.
Regular buses are also available from Puerto Natales to the park. Click here for more information about transportation.
By Gretchen Stahlman, written for Chile.Travel