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VIDEO: Anatomy of a trail race

February 19, 2015

(WARNING: Very shaky video. Not appropriate

for viewers sensitive to motion sickness,

seizures, or generic electronica).

Costa Rica is overflowing with natural spaces and rustic paths, so it’s no wonder that trail running is picking up speed. Exchanging hard pavement for rocks, roots, and mud, trail-runners are some of the hottest athletes in the world right now. Events are popping up everywhere, and new members join their ranks every day.

This is a busy season for trail-racing: The Lake Arenal Ultra-Marathon happened on Feb. 7, the Chivawi Night Race takes place on Feb. 21 in Santa Ana, followed by the Irazú Marathon on March 7.

If you’ve never tried trail-racing before, be forewarned: This is no regular road-race. The ground is often uneven and slippery, and many trails shoot up mountainsides and drop into valleys. Even the toughest athletes often resort to power-walking the steeper climbs.

We wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so we signed up for the Arenal 10K and used our handy GoPro to film the experience in time-lapse video. The route was nice and flat for the first part, and the crowd of 150 runners was in good spirits, despite some rain. But then we began a 300-meter ascent, and yowzah, was that a punishing stretch. After a jaunty descent back to lake-level, we crossed the finish line. The terrain was varied and the scenery was spectacular.

The real winner was Tico Times staff photographer Alberto “Beto” Font, who had never run an official race before. He took fourth place in the 10K.

The verdict: We’ll be hitting a lot more trails in the near future.

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