From the people that brought you the North Pole Marathon and the world’s most southerly foot race, the Antarctic Ice Marathon, comes a gruelling new challenge in a one-of-a kind location — Chile’s Atacama Desert.
The first ever Volcano Marathon is set to take place in the driest desert on earth this month on Nov. 13. Daring runners will start 4,300 meters (14,100 feet) up alongside Lascar Volcano, the most active volcano in northern Chile, and run to Talabre, a small village at an altitude of 3,150 meters (10,330 feet).
“There is a constant gas cloud around Lascar, and they run past ten other volcanoes, which makes it that bit more exciting,” Richard Donovan, the man who created the event, told press.
Donovan is no stranger to intense and unique physical challenges. The Irish super-athlete won the inaugural South Pole Marathon in January 2002 only to go on to set a world record for running seven marathons, on seven different continents, in fewer than seven days in 2009.
Along Donovan’s latest course, athletes will run along mostly dirt roads, with unmatched views of ten Andean volcanoes, keeping with the marathon’s theme, of course. As runners make their way to Talabre they will have to go both up and downhill and even run along the edge of a gorge.
Not only is the terrain and altitude varied, but so is the climate. When the race begins, organizers say there will be snow at the runners’ feet, but by the time they finish they will be in 85+ degree Fahrenheit temperatures (30+ Celcius).
“You find out a lot about yourself running in those conditions,” Donovan commented.
Chile is the perfect setting for a Volcano Marathon as it is home to 10 percent of the world’s volcanoes, and an impressive 20 percent of the world’s active volcanoes. In addition to those in the stunning Atacama landscape, are famous peaks such as Volcán Villarrica in the south of the country which made the list of the most famous volcanoes in the world.