Despite being less than a year old, it is fair to say the Patagonian International Marathon is on course to becoming a highlight in the world racing calendar. Set in the prehistoric majesty of Torres del Paine, and with a portion of proceeds going to conservation projects in the area, the race’s combination of beauty and ethics ensured it a spot on Condé Nast Traveler’s list of six “Races along the globe’s most scenic routes.”
Three hundred and eighty runners from 18 countries participated in last September’s inaugural marathon, and that number is expected to increase significantly for this year’s race, set for September 28, as the competition’s profile continues to grow.
“For 2013 we want to involve more people and highlight the natural beauty and biodiversity of Patagonia, its tourist attractions and so contribute to the sustainable development of this region,” Stjepan Pavicic, founder and director of the Patagonian International Marathon, said.
The marathon invites participants to donate to the Reforestemos Patagonia campaign, which aims to plant more than one million trees in areas of Patagonia badly damaged by forest fires in recent years.
“The Reforestemos Patagonia project and the Patagonian International Marathon have a common vision, and are both keen to encourage the protection of this important area,” Javier Fuentes, Executive Director of Reforestemos Patagonia said. “We welcome the alliance – this is something concrete that can be done to reforest Chilean Patagonia in a healthy and positive way. We hope that both the Chilean people and people from our neighbouring countries and overseas, are motivated to join us not only by running, but also by making a donation of trees.”
Aside from the race’s commitment to conservation, Condé Nast Traveler highlighted the dramatic beauty of the race, in a list that includes the Angkor Wat International Half-marathon in Cambodia and the Big Five Marathon in South Africa, among other races.
“The first marathon across little-visited Chilean Patagonia launched this September  with a spectacular route through the Torres del Paine National Park,” reads the travel publication’s article. “Runners pass alongside the park’s rivers, placid lakes and staggering glaciers, through dense forest and up to the base of 3,000-metre-high Monte Almirante Nieto.”
As well as a full marathon, participants can take part in 10K, 21K, and 63K distances. Registration ends August 28 at a cost of US$ 220 (CLP 104,000), though signing up earlier is significantly cheaper. For more information, visit the marathon’s registration page.
To learn more about Reforestemos Patagonia and to donate, visit the campaign’s website.