The Official 26.2 Mile Inca Trail Marathon and Mini Marathon takes running travel to a whole new level — literally. The second annual edition of the mountain-high race takes off on August 15, 2013 as part of a nine-day Peruvian adventure organized by Erik’s Adventures, an adventure travel company run by avid marathoners and personal friends of mine, Erik and Myra Rasmussen.
The race traverses the footpath the ancient Incas used to commute between Cusco, Peru and the world famous citadel of Machu Picchu. The professionally measured 26.2-mile course reaches an elevation of 13,800 feet and usually takes the typical hiker three days to complete. Last year’s men’s winner, Ryan Maxwell, finished in 7:44:05, and women’s winner, Megan Murray, finished in 9:57:59. Runners have just 12 hours to complete the course and could face temperature swings from as low as 32 degrees to as high as 80 degrees. But the payoff is worth it: a photo finish in front of Machu Picchu.
“We are an organized race,” said Myra Rasmussen. “We have aid stations, we have porters along the way in case anyone gets lost and we have bibs so that we can identify our runners at all the checkpoints. We try to make this as seamless as possible.”
Rasmussen and her husband Erik are no strangers to Peru. Both are Spanish-speakers with deep ties to the country. Myra’s father hails from Peru and she grew up visiting family there often. And Erik, the founder of Erik’s Adventures, has been leading hikes on the Inca Trail since 2006. They’re both competitive ultra runners and marathoners with Boston Marathon qualifying times.
The 2013 Official 26.2 Mile Inca Trail Marathon and Mini Marathon race will begin at 5:00 a.m. on August 15, and the course will remain open for 12 hours. There are four aid stations with purified water, sports drinks and energy foods, along with first aid, English and Spanish speaking staff, and radio communication for emergencies.
Runners’ splits are recorded as they check into each station and at the finish. Erik’s Adventures also takes photos along the course and at the finish, and furnishes them to runners free of charge. All finishers receive a medal and goodie bag, and the race offers cash prizes for the top three male and female finishers.
Last year, 41 lucky runners got to check the phenomenal finish off their bucket list. Erik’s Adventures expects about the same number of participants this year. And for runners who won’t be able to complete the race inside of 12 hours—Machu Picchu has a strict closing time—there will be a cutoff point with a staffed campground. Those runners can then continue to Machu Picchu the next morning for their big finish. Alternately, runners can opt to tackle a 17-mile mini-marathon, debuting for the first time this year.
Erik’s Adventures’ Official 26.2 Mile Inca Trail Marathon debuted in July 2012 as the first measured 26.2-mile race along the Inca Trail. Tour operator Andes Adventures organized the first Inca Trail race in 1996. In years since, they advertised the race as the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 27.5 Mile Marathon, but Andes Adventures website says they now believe that course is short of a marathon. As a result, they are offering in 2013 a GPS measured 26.2-mile course as well in addition to their classic course on June 5 and August 8 for $2,595 and $2,695 respectively.
Erik’s Adventures Official 26.2 Mile Inca Trail Marathon and Mini Marathon Peru trip runs from August 9 to August 18, and includes visits to Cusco, several other locations in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and of course, the Inca Trail Marathon itself. The trip starts at $2,440. For more information visit incatrailmarathon.net.
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runner’s lifestyle web show about running. She has completed six marathons, two triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at RunKarlaRun.com, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.