Lago Viedma / Lago San Martin / Patagonia Argentina

Running Patagonia

Running Patagonia

Sometimes running is secondary.
Running in Patagonia is different than running in anywhere else in the world. Actually everything here is different than what I’m used to. It can be easier, it can be harder, but it won’t ever be what you expect it to be. Which is why it’s so tempting to go running in Patagonia. Going to Patagonia is not hard, staying here is not hard but going into nature can be really tricky. Which is why the people you meet outside the comfort and heat of the small and charming houses, are some of the most motivated persons you will encounter. Being in nature is a choice. You choose to face the elements, you choose to challenge yourself and you choose to immerse yourself in a different world. Haven for trailrunning Patagonia is more than climbing, skiing or trekking. It’s more than perfect granite, complex glaciers and big volcanoes. It’s also gradual hills, vast open spaces and unspoiled nature. In other words; Patagonia is also a great place for trailrunning. You can run for hours and days on endwithout touching civilisation or meeting other people. It’s paradise for anyone who appreciate solitude.

A place for the motivated.
But the Argentinians aren’t here to make it easy for you. This place is for the motivated. Outside of the national parks all of the land is privately owned, and the Gauchos (owners and workers of the land) are not necessarily keen on opening theirgates for you. You might have to persuade (read: bribe with wine or cigarettes)them to let you enter the land for running. But, if you overcome this first obstacle, you’re in for an adventure. Local friends and supportLuckily we had a few local friends who agreed to help us out with getting the permissions and taking their absolute awesome Ford F100 along for support (Thank you Agustin and Vera).The plan was to cross a Meseta (high and dry plateau),close to the town of El Chalten, over the course of two days. Picture of Agustin, Vera and the carWhen you see pictures from Chaltén, it’s all about Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, butthe areaalso has much more tooffer. We went away from the mountains and into the steppe, where the steep mountains are replaced with endless views of no mans land and big groups of guanacos, wild horses and condors.Getting immersed in the wildernessAs a european runner, I’m used to confined spaces and lots of infrastructure. There’s nothing of that in Patagonia. Everything you see in the distance is further away than you would think. Really tricky for the mind, and it only gets worse as exhaustion sets in. Running across the meseta was wild, untouched and utterly amazing. Anytime we crossed a ridge, turned our heads or simply just realized where we were, we got amazed by the scenery, the solitude andthe wildlife. Going up to the meseta was like stepping into a different world. A world where you’re the visitor and the nature, the animal and the weather define the rules. Luckily we weren’t alone. We had the best support crew and the Ford F100 to help us along the way. River crossings, camping gear, food and drinks –the car and crew helped us along the route. Forget about fast and light trailrunning this is slow and supported running. Did we complete? Does it matter? We managed to cross the meseta, but not without several changes of plans as we encountered unexpected complications. Well this is Patagonia and nothing is how you expect it to be. The ”finishline” was an intersection in the middle of nowhere, it felt like one should continue and nothing like the finish of a big project. Like there’s something after the finish.Finishing had a weird feeling to it.
A trip about more than running. But luckily this was as much about exploring a new area and having a great adventure with friends as it was about running. The running was secondary to the adventure as was good sportsnutrition secondary to an epic asado and great wine.

Text: Martin Schøber. Photos by Jacob Slot.