Tuesday, October 24, 2006

TR - Uruguay

Oct 9 – 11/06

Race Results
Oct 10/06
Colonia Marathon
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Where were we after running the ‘Underground BA Marathon’? Oh Yeah. Francisco, the Sports Manager and I were catching a fast ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Colonia is on the other side of the Rio de la Plata (Plata River) – a wide river that separates Argentina and Uruguay. The fast ferry makes the 50 Km crossing in one hour so we arrived in Colonia in time for lunch. We had visited Colonia 10 years ago. Like many tourists we crossed the river to enjoy a lunch in Uruguay and explore Colonia for an afternoon. It is a small rural city of 15,000 and was founded in the 17th century by the Portuguese. The Portuguese and Spanish fought over the city and port for 100 years and it became known as the ‘apple of discord’. The ‘old town’ is designated a UNESCO heritage site and has many historic buildings. What amazed me 10 years ago was the large number of old/classic American and European cars parked along the old cobblestone streets. There didn’t seem to be as many this time but there were still several to be seen. And these are NOT restored cars - they are original cars that are still used for everyday transportation!

Our 300-year old hotel, located in the old town square had been restored and updated and was probably the nicest hotel we stayed in during the trip. We were able to park the car and walk to all the pubs and shops in the old town. Francisco had made contact with an athlete in Colonia who promised to help us and we arranged to meet him at the local Athletic Club. Adriano was one of the top athletes in Uruguay – an adventure racer/triathlete and a local boy so he was well known and very popular in Colonia. He informed us that the 1st marathon had just been held in Colonia this past July (their winter) and since he had been involved in the race organization he would show us the actual course and support us to run it! We drove the course with Adriano. It was a point-to-point course that started west of the city in Anchorena National Park in the San Juan Hills and ran 42 Km to finish in old town. The course was very hilly! The start line and first 4 Km of the official marathon course were on the grounds of the summer Presidential Residence in the Park and despite Adriano’s fame and popularity (and even Maddog’s fame?) the Colonel in charge of the military security would not permit us to start our marathon on the Presidential grounds. So we adjusted our course by starting at the 4Km mark outside the grounds and adding a 4 Km loop at the end of the marathon.

After driving the course I felt I could run it easily under 4 hrs and that became my goal. Adriano jokingly referred to me as ‘Forest Gump’ and asked if I would agree to an interview with a local TV station. Thus Francisco, Adriano and Maddog appeared on the evening and late news/sports. The following morning Francisco and I picked Adriano up at his house on the way to the start line. Adriano ran and biked the whole marathon with me. Since the course was marked every 1Km and very hilly I decided to wear my heart monitor to ensure that I did not get carried away and push too hard. I wanted to save some energy for the Patagonia Marathon on Sun! Because of our interview on TV there were many locals out along the course to cheer us on! I passed the Half in 1:55 and felt OK but the temps had already warmed up into the high 60s. By the time I approached the city at 25 Km and climbed a short steep hill it was HOT and when I passed the 100-year old Bull Ring at 30 Km I decided I wasn’t having fun anymore. Fortunately Francisco joined me and ran the last 12 Km. The 4 Km loop we had to add at the end was painful – I wanted the marathon to be over! But finally we crossed the finish line in 3:51:39 to the cheers and congratulations of some locals and members of the Athletic Club. Country # 79 finished!

Then it was time for a shower and a walk around the old town for more exploring and a few beers! Adriano had called a marathon report into the local radio station so that when we were walking around and shopping many of the locals approached me to congratulate me on the marathon? The local residents sure were friendly! Later that day Adriano brought his wife and kids around to the hotel to meet us and say goodbye. Of course I thanked him again for all his help and support. Then I treated Francisco and the Sports Manager to a great celebration dinner (steak and wine again) in old town. Meals are even cheaper in Uruguay than Argentina.

The following morning we had to drive to the capital city Montevideo to catch a flight to BA and on to Patagonia. The reason for this is important tourist information. Domestic airfares inside Argentina are double for foreigners unless they fly to Argentina on the National Airline (Aerolineas). We had not so to get around that expense/robbery it was cheaper to fly to BA from Montevideo on Aerolineas which qualified us for the cheaper airfares to Patagonia? Would never had known that without Francisco. Plus it was a pleasant 2-hr drive through rural/farming country until we reached Montevideo. We left early so we could spend a few hours exploring Montevideo. We saw most of the tourist sites: the gate to the old city, the old city and the old market place. Even though Montevideo has a spectacular location on a peninsula bordered by the Plata River and the Atlantic Ocean it is not as beautiful as Buenos Aires.

After our quick visit we were soon on our way back to BA and on to Patagonia.

Stay tuned!


Not many people in Colonia speak English. It would have been very difficult to make the arrangements and run the marathon w/o Francisco’s help.
The marathon course is hilly but scenic. I was told that they would change the date in 2007 to April if anyone is interested?

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