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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > Apr-17 > BLAZING A TRAIL

BLAZING A TRAIL

RAGING FOREST FIRES, CHASTENING CLIMBS AND PERILOUS DESCENTS WERE JUST A FEW OF THE OBSTACLES COMPETITORS AT THIS YEAR’S ZOLKAN 4 DAYS RACE HAD TO OVERCOME, AS MATT MAYNARD REPORTS

ZOLKAN 4 DAYS

Zolkan 4 Days is a four-day stage race from the Andes mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Last year I competed in the first edition near my adopted home in the capital city, Santiago. This year I left my running shoes at home and returned with my camera for a more wide-angled look at the race and the Chilean running scene. In 2017 the migratory event was scheduled to visit the temperate rainforest of Huilo Huilo, in Northern Patagonia.

Yet 10 days before the race was due to start, forest fires broke out across the country. By the second day of the crisis, the fires were no longer just a news item – the smoke had reached my home in the capital. Street lights flickered on during the day and the sun became a fading smudgy orange. Fire engines roared both day and night, and the surrounding Andes mountains disappeared behind a cloud of suspended ash.

But after more than six years of living and running mountain races in this long, thin, South American country, I have learned how Chileans embrace adversity. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis are to be expected. Despite the hardship being experienced across the nation, the race directors decided that the race would still go ahead. Running would be an act of defiance against the disruption, and a celebration of the natural world which elsewhere was being destroyed.

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About Men's Running

I’ve put that question to runners of all abilities – some professional, some amateur, all keen – and their answers are varied and unique. For some, self-improvement is their motivation, whether to lose weight, overcome health issues – both physical and mental – or to simply be fitter. For others running is key to their social life, a community brought together by a common interest, and the friendships made within it. For those who have the talent and determination to compete at the highest level, it has become their livelihood. Then there are runners who do it just for fun, they always have, and they always will. I’m a recent convert, I managed to avoid running for most of my adult life. Maybe my attitude was formed in school where I showed zero aptitude. That didn’t change in my 20s when exercise was way down my list of priorities. As I got older I started to focus more on my fitness but, still, running never figured. But now, if I’m honest, I feel slightly foolish for leaving it so long, as I can see how a few weekly runs would have improved virtually every aspect of my life in some way. Plus I’d be a hell of lot faster than I am at the moment. I’m now one of those annoying born-again runners, the type forever extolling the virtues of “lacing up my trainers and getting out there.” I’m in good company though, as having bought this magazine I’m guessing you’re pretty enthusiastic too. I look forward to bringing you the best magazine dedicated to our shared passion in the months to come.
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