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written by: Enrique Sanchez
posted: 10/16/02

This race is part of a series called "solo para salvajes" or only for the insane, and for what I learned all the races in the series is just a ramp up to the finale, that is basically a race up and down the highest mountain in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba at 19,284ft.

To give a little background, Mexico city is at about 7,500ft in altitude and very hilly, quite a change from the south coast of Mass. So my training took a drastic change when I got here, but after a few weeks I thought I was ready for everything so why not enter this race and prove myself completely wrong. The race, according to the pamphlet was going to be around 21 miles and every runner has to get tagged at the top of the "San Miguel", a very steep mountain topping off at 15,250ft, and then back to the start/finish line. I get to the race site, paid my 20 pesos ($1.90 USD ), and that's when i realized the huge mistake i had made, first i was about 100 lbs heavier than the average runner, my altimeter read 7,280 ft, someone tells me that the only "aid station" is at the top of the mountain and you have to bring money to buy whatever you want and finally the race announcer says there is a prime to whoever breaks the 3:47 record stablished some time back.....mmmmmm 3:47??? that seems too much for just 21 miles.

At 8:00 AM sharp we are off, the race started with a tough hill for about a mile that made a lot of the racers walk, but I was feeling good and I kept a nice and steady pace that kept me in front of the pack and I was able to see the guys at the front, after about 20 minutes the course was in the valley leading towards the mountain, I was keeping a good pace my HR below 150 and the scenery was amazing, this race is easy!!!!

The second hill has started and the San Miguel is visible through the morning fog and even though I felt pretty good I knew I was going to hurt if I kept the pace, we are at 8950 ft and the road had turn into rocky trail that looked more like steps in a stair than a road.

The hill is getting steeper by the minute, I can't run anymore and I'm walking/scrambling with everyone around me we are hitting 10,520 ft. and the temperature is dropping fast, we started with 85F, now my watch reads 68F. I'm sweating still like a hog and I don't have any water left, have to keep an eye for any water source.

Been walking/scrambling the last hour, my legs are starting to get tired and I'm starting to feel bad, but finally found a little stream with clear pure water, it looks like I won't die of dehydration. I'm still able to keep up with the racers around me, everybody is very friendly and we start to talk. It seems everybody has a nickname for me "blonde" or "bear", I just can't think of anything intelligent to say back to them , the air is getting colder and colder. The altimeter reads 12,180 and the HRM is stuck at 170

15 mins ago the first place passed on his way down, he was sprinting and he was smiling....bastard. It looks like we started the final hill to the summit, I'm finally scrambling more than walking and I'm making process uphill. I'm at 13,100, crap still 2000 to go, my HR is at 175. I inhale the last power bar and I have no food left, just 50 pesos to spend at the summit. At this point I started to question my sanity.

Is it getting tougher or my legs are finally dead?, I see the hut at the top of the summit but this hill is so steep that there is a rope to pull yourself up. The nausea is getting worst every minute that goes by, and the idea of getting something to eat at the top makes me gag, but I have to put something into my system.

Finally!!! the summit, I get tagged and run towards the makeshift store. The snack selection is what every sports book tell you not to eat, ding dongs, chips, candy, fried dough, etc, etc. I decide for the ding dongs, a coke and piece of bread. The 5 minutes I spend at the summit make my legs stiff, temperature is 43F and I decide to start the run down, just before leaving I hear I'm 27th out of 650, not bad for a "bear".

I never thought running downhill could be so painful, my quads are cramping, my knees are hurting but I'm letting gravity do it's work and pull me down. By the way, my body thought that the ding dongs and the coke were a very bad idea and I had to "returned" them in a most disgusting way. Even though I feel Im flying, people are passing me left and right and they have the nads to tell me I'm looking good. What nerve!!!

Finally, the finish line I can't believe I'm here!! once I stop my legs just go numb and lock up, of course I have a very embarrassing moment when I need about 7 persons to pick me up and all of them are asking how on earth did I get this size. I get a medal and a finisher t-shirt (how can they afford this with a $1.90 fee???) and find out that the first place male finished just under 4:00 hours and the first female about 40 minutes later. I finished 68th overall with a time of 6 hours, 8 minutes, so the idea that even fat people can run downhill is a complete lie.

Today my legs are sore but not too bad, the nausea and head ache are gone...and the good news is that I already sent my money to enter the series finale. Bring on the pain!!!!!!!!!