Andes Race – Mountain Running World Cup Heads to High Altitude

Written by Alexander Beaven for the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA). American Trail Running Association (ATRA) executive director Nancy Hobbs is the WMRA general secretary.

On 27th of August the Valsir Mountain Running World Cup makes its first ever visit to Peru, for the Andes Race.

After a 2 year break due to COVID-19, the Andes Race returns to celebrate its 6th edition in the high mountains to the north of the Inca capital of Cusco. The event features 4 race distances, 100k, 60k, 13k and 30k, which is a Silver Label race in the 2022 WMRA World Cup.

Andes Race race is at once a celebration of this incredible mountain range and a nod to the culture of those who have lived here for centuries. The courses follow a section of the Qhapaq Ñan, a network of Inca roads which covers over 30,000km, stretching most of the way up the west coast of the continent, and has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Although the Andes Race only began in 2014, these roads have been used by runners for hundreds of years.

Photo: A.R. Jose Ivan Cano.

Andes Race Organizer

“The day we decided to organize a race in Cusco, it was with the purpose of paying tribute to the Chaskis, ancient messenger runners of the Inka empire,” says Claudio Castillo, the Andes Race’s executive manager. “We wanted to make a race that would evoke their spirit and pay tribute to the legacy of those ancient runners.

“Our mission is also to put Peru in the eyes of the world as a privilege destination for trail runners,” adds Claudio. “Being part of WMRA World Cup is a big step for us on that mission.”

There will be few trail and mountain runners who don’t see the appeal of the high mountain landscape which the race passes through. The surrounding peaks are as beautiful as they are intimidating, terrifying collisions of rock and ice with summits well clear of 5,000m. Seeing the potential in the race to have a positive impact, the organizers have made a great commitment to protect and restore this environment.

“Every year we have been doing small scale reforestation in the area of influence of the race. Since 2022 we have a partnership with Global Forest Generation and we will plant 100,000 native trees thanks to the kilometers accumulated during the race by the participants.”

This year’s event looks set to be the biggest yet, with 21 countries represented among more than 700 participants across the Andes Race’s 4 distances.

Andes Race

Photo: A.R. Jose Ivan Cano.

The Course

With 1,050m+ and 2,020m-, the 30km Andes Race is certainly a stern test for the legs, but it’s the altitude that will be a real problem for those not fortunate enough to have grown up in the thin air of these mountains.

From the start at Huacahuasi, already 3,700m above sea level, the race’s first 8 kilometers are all uphill, taking runners to Abra Ipsayjasa at 4,500m, the high point of the route and by far the highest altitude on this year’s World Cup. From there the course descends, passing snowy peaks and gorgeous lagoons. It drops almost 2,000m to the finish in Ollantaytambo at 2,870m, with a few shorter climbs keeping runners on their toes.

The Favorites

The favorite in the women’s race is returning champion Katia Maraus Sullca Amata, who is on fine form after taking 3rd in the 35km race at the recent South American Championships in San Juan, Argentina. Her closest competition may be from Mary Christine Ricalde Mora, 2nd at the Andes Race in 2018.

The fight for the men’s podium is likely to feature José Manuel Quispe Mallma and Octavio Chiri Chamana, both of whom represented Peru at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Argentina in 2019, as well as Fernando Condori Torres, who has twice finished 4th here.

The course records are Remigio Huaman’s 2:28:20 for the men and Aydee Loayza Huaman’s 3:15:18 for the women, both set in 2017.

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