Competitions start and end in the downtown area but they go through the best trails in the neighboring Patagonian Andean forest, joining sport with the feeling of fresh air on the face.
For a while now, San Martín de los Andes
has become the scene of one of the most popular sports: running. Distances and physical challenge may change but the passion to reach the finish line is the same for all runners coming from faraway places.
As tourists visiting the city, we had the chance to witness several marathons. Standing amid the spectators, we were thrilled to see the sweaty, extreme, tired but making an effort to reach the finish line. We cheered every one of them up as if we had known them all our lives and we felt how we were all integrated at that moment.
Running, marathon, endurance are some of the names used to refer to the most significant events in which both locals and visitors take part. The most extreme competitions last several days and even cross the Chilean border, including sleeping in tents in the middle of the mountain.
We were told that year after year the number of participants in each trial increases and sometimes includes several thousands of runners. Lectures related to their training, physical and emotional preparation and the expectations participants have about the upcoming challenge are given during the days before the event. Well-known brands of apparel, footwear and technology applied to controlling each step, each effort and heart performance are part of what is necessary in order to feel safe during the race.
Of course we wondered what was in the mind of each participant. We felt curious about their individual preparation before even reaching San Martín de los Andes. What were their expectations about the competition? There might be many different answers to these simple questions.
The truth is that adventure and self-improvement competitions have taken over San Martín and given origin to a new way of approaching this destination. Local nature, the unconditional support and care provided in the organization, comradeship and the hospitality shown by local denizens are more than rewarding.