Nov 5, 2012

Distance today = 49.56 km; Total distance = 14,080.41 km; Location = Los Chaletes – 32 51.457′ S, 70 29.219′ W; Start time = 0935, Finish time = 1712


I’m loving running in Chile. After some early teething problems, I’ve now settled in nicely.

For the past two days, I’ve been ascending very gradually. I’m now just shy of 1000 metres in altitude, and tomorrow I’ll rise another 2000 metres into the Andes. I think it’s a gentle climb during the early part of the day, but will increase in steepness as I get higher. I was thinking of enlisting Michael Palin and going over the Andes by racing frog, but that’s against the rules.

I was lucky to find a cycle path alongside the road during the morning. It went for nearly 10 km. After that, I was forced to run on the shoulder, but it was decent enough. By mid afternoon I’d reached the town of Los Andes, the gateway to the Cristo Redentor Pass. From there, I officially started my climb of the pass, but I’ve only done about 12 km of it so far. Tomorrow I should get to within 10 km of the top, which will be crested on Wednesday.

The part I’ve completed so far reminds me a lot of the lower reaches of the climb of the Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees, from Luz St Sauveur. However, this pass is almost twice as high as the Tourmalet. We’re talking serious stuff here, as anyone who has climbed the Tourmalet can imagine.

I wouldn’t be concerned about the climb if I was acclimatised to the altitude. I have received some good tips from fellow world runner, Jesper Olsen, who ran this pass last year, from the opposite direction. He was fine, but he’s also a better runner than me, and he was reasonably acclimatised at the time. We’ll have to see how I go. I’ve run to the top of the Haleakala volcano on Maui three times (a 10,000 feet climb), all without any acclimatisation to altitude. Twice I was fine, and the other time I suffered badly. This pass is another 3,000 feet higher again. If I do find myself in trouble, at least I’ll have a great view to ease the pain.