Last Sunday saw the second Carrera Ecologica de San Felipe Del Agua in the city of Oaxaca de Juarez in southern Mexico. Oaxaca de Juarez is an attractive colonial style city of about a quarter of a million people and, at about 3 and a half hours by suburban, the nearest big city to my home-town of Huajuapan de Leon. The race took place in the countryside just outside the suburb of San Felipe to the north of the city. It’s the type of ground I normally train on. Rough stony paths with plenty of dips and climbs. This race would go up 200 meters over 5k then down a fast 2.5k before 1.5k flat then falling to the finish. A good tough 9k cross country race for a Sunday morning.
The cover charge was 50 pesos. That’s about $3, a really good price for 9k cross country. Needless to say, you don’t get a snazzy Nike t-shirt or medal for that price but everything was really well organized. They had toilets, water stations, marshals and a bit of food and water at the end. That’s perfect for me. And there was a good turnout too, around 150 runners for both the 6k and 11k races. I ran the 11k which actually measured around 9k on my Garmin. At the end I was expecting another 2k and seeing the finish was a surprise, but it turned out to be a good tough run so I was happy enough.
We set off a little after 8pm, about two or three minutes before the 6k runners. It was already quite hot and it was good to get moving. I stuck with the leading group of seven or eight runners for the first couple of hundred metres, before we hit the first hill, then fell back. I remembered part of the route from a Oaxaca Q50 training race and knew that we might hit a quite heavy climb. In the end we ran a different route that was a bit easier but we did end up climbing 200 meters. At around 2.5k we hit the first aid station and separated from the 6k runners. I was surprised at few 11k runners were left. After this we went downhill into a wooded area and then onto 2k of solid climb.
I normally try to hold a steady pace on a climb but it’s always a lot more difficult in a race with other runners. Climbing always hurts my calves and with the adrenalin and everything I’m never quite sure if I’ve pushed myself too hard or not. The moment of truth always comes when you pass the crest of the hill. You either recover well or you don’t, and even when you do, there are always about 10 or 20 seconds when your calves make you feel like you’re still climbing up the hill. On this particular hill the guy in front was running in fits and starts so I was finding it difficult to find a good pace behind him.
When we reached highest point of the course on 5k the marshal let us know that it’d be plain sailing from here on in. What followed was a drop of around 200 meters over 2.5k on a pretty even track. It was the type of downhill where you can just lean forward and let gravity do all the work. Just steep enough to go quite fast without accelerating out of control. Great fun. From the start of this I was literally neck and neck with another runner. This lasted for about a kilometre before I could break away. I took some water from the next aid station and poured most of it onto my head to try and cool down a bit. The next guy in front seemed to be making time on me. I didn’t mind this so much since he was already a fair distance away and I didn’t think I could catch him over the remaining course of the race anyway.
Just before 7k we struck a more uneven path, and then from 7 to 7.5 the track really started to twist and turn. This was also the point where we merged with the 6k race so it was quite a challenge to maintain momentum down the hill while avoiding the other runners. I always seem to lose time on downhill stretches like this from being over cautions but I tried to bomb it down this one as I could see another 11k runner just behind me. This guy just caught me at the end of the drop and led me for the next kilometre before I lost him on the final climb before the half kilometre downhill turning toward the finish. I completed the race in 47 minutes 46 seconds for just over 9k with a total climb of 230 meters.
I really enjoyed this race. It was like a shorter version of my normal training run. A good hard steep climb before a sprint to the finish. The one mistake I made was wearing my New Balance Minimus MT20 shoes without socks. I’ve run a couple of times without socks in the MT00s and had no trouble at all but the MT20s creased in the upper forefoot and cut into my toes. The race itself was perfect and Oaxaca is always a great city to visit with plenty to see and do. The next big race is the 2a Carrera Atlética del Día de Rábanos then the Laatzi Duu 10K in the beautiful town of Analco in the Siera de Juarez.
Hope to see you there, happy trail running.