Valsir World Cup Preview 2022 Part 9: The Andes Race
On 27th August the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup heads to South America for its first ever visit to Peru and The Andes Race, a Silver Label event for 2022.
Based out of Cusco, once the capital city of the Inca empire, The Andes Race is at once a celebration of this incredible mountain range and a nod to the culture of those who have lived here for centuries.
The course follows a section of the Qhapaq Ñan, a network of Inca roads which covers over 30,000km, stretching most of the way up the west coast of the continent, and has been designated a World Heritage Site. Although the Andes Race only began in 2014, these roads have been used by runners for hundreds of years.
¨The day we decided to organize a race in Cusco, it was with the purpose of paying tribute to the Chaskis, ancient messenger runners of the Inka empire,” says Claudio Castillo, the event's executive manager. “We wanted to make a race that would evoke their spirit and pay tribute to the legacy of those ancient runners.”
At 30km with 1,050m+ and 2,020m-, The Andes Race is certainly a stern test for the legs, but it's the altitude that will be a real problem for those not fortunate enough to have grown up at altitude.
From the start at Huacahuasi, 3,700m, the race's first 8 kilometres are all up hill, taking runner's to the route's high point at 4,500m, roughly the same altitude as the summit of the Matterhorn. From there the course descends, passing snowy peaks and gorgeous lagoons. It drops almost 2,000m to the finish in Ollantaytambo at 2,870m with a few shorter climbs keeping runners on their toes.
The course records, Remigio Huaman's 2:28:20 for the men and Aydee Loayza Huaman's 3:15:18 for the women, will be a big ask for anyone who hasn't done a good job of getting acclimatised.
“Our mission is also to put Peru on eyes of the world as a privilege destination for trail runners,” says Claudio. “Being part of WMRA World Cup is a big step for us on that mission.”
There will be few trail and mountain runners who don't see the appeal of the high mountain landscape which the race passes through. The surrounding peaks are as beautiful as they are intimidating, terrifying collisions of rock and ice with summits well clear of 5,000m.
Seeing the potential in the race to have a positive impact, the organisers have made a great commitment to protect and restore this environment.
“Every year we have been doing small scale reforestation in the area of influence of the race. Since 2022 we have a partnership with Global Forest Generation and we will plant 100,000 native trees thanks to the kilometers accumulated during the race by the participants.”
There are direct flights to Lima from Madrid, Paris and Amsterdam, as well as a number of North American cities. From there it's a short flight, or if you're feeling adventurous a long but spectacular bus trip, to Cusco.