NOTE: July 2020
This post brings back great memories. I spent quite a lot of time in the Atacama for races and training camps and I really enjoyed it. Looking at the pictures I can feel the heat, the dryness and the altitude. I'd love to go back one day.
Last week I went to San Pedro to train in the desert. The plan for the trip was to run a high mileage week while testing out some gear and adapting to the desert conditions. It was a tough week of running as I had just raced the Ruta del Condor on the weekend and was coming out of a few solid weeks of training.
The Atacama is high at 2,500m and very dry. It's also hot, but due to the other conditions that somehow didn't seem as bad as I expected it to. I struggled on my first three days of running and did not run strongly at all. However, by the fourth day I was feeling a lot stronger and managed to run much more smoothly and efficiently.
I tried as much as possible to run on the route of the Atacama Crossing race. It was great to learn about the route and also to run some sections that seemed impossible in the race in March and yet with a few less miles in my legs seemed quite runnable. I ran:
Day 1: the first half of Stage 2
Day 2: the second half of Stage 2
Day 3: the second half of Stage 1
Day 4: the last 30km of Stage 5 and all of Stage 6
Day 5: my own route through the Cordillera del Sal
I had an amazing week, rekindled my love for the desert and remembered just how hard it is to run there!
|The valley and river outside of San Pedro.
|The valley and river close to San Pedro.
|A typical trail on Stage 2 with lots of climbing and rocks along the way.
|The spectacular Cordillera del Sal.
|Some really difficult footing in a salt flat.
|The last tree in the desert on the way to Laguna Cejar.
|Laguna Cejar: the location of the camp after Stage 2.
|More tough footing, this time on sandy ground.
|Searching for the Tunnel to go to the end of Stage 1.
|The tunnel that links San Pedro to the end of Stage 1.