"Adventure Running in the Andes" By Ray Nyce
Adventure Reference: Inca Trail and Southern Highlands Adventure Run
Published in the December 1999 issue of UltraRunning Magazine. (Copyright UltraRunning. Reprinted with the permission of the author.)
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Marathon
Twenty runners started and completed the Inca Trail Run in less than one day. These hardy soles began the journey in Llactapata at 5:30 am and at 8000 feet of elevation. It was August 17, 1999 and the first sunlight had just illuminated the surrounding mountain tops. There would be two aid stations in the next 28 miles which included three 13,000 foot passes and 3200 steps cut in stone by the Incas in the 14th century.
The single track trail rose gradually through the jungle bush for three miles along the Cusichaca River. After a bridged river crossing, the trail became stone and cranked up 5000 feet in five miles. At 9100 feet, the last inhabited village on the Inca Trail was passed. Wayllabamba locals wondered of our purpose. The lead runners were about to blow a fuse as they crested the "Pass of the Dead Woman" at 13,779 feet. Two more high passes, a 20 meter Inca tunnel, dense green groves of bush and trees, a long mountainside traverse, a strategic fortress, a "Town in the Clouds", and more ancient ruins led to a view of the Urubamba River gorge and the last aid station.
A 3000 foot decent down steep stone steps brings the trail back into the jungle. The trail was dark, passed through more ancient ruins and crested at the entrance to the "Gateway to the Sun". Standing in the Sun Gate, the lost city of the Incas is visible two miles and 1000 feet down on a butte in the high valley above the river. After a few much coveted pictures the runners fly down the stone paved highway and enter the sacred courtyard of Machu Piccu and the finish.
Finishing Times - Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
August 17, 1999
1 Craig Schroeter 7:00 Putnam Valley, NY
2 Mark Bowman 7:12 Watsonville, CA
3 Ray Nyce 7:15 Parker, CO
4 Devy Reinstein 7:50 Santa Monica, CA (Lima, Peru)
5 Roger Weingaertner 8:15 San Fernando, CA
6 Dennis Hartley 8:15 Santa Cruz, CA
7 Floyd Redmon 8:30 Larken Valley, CA
8 Carrie Parsi 8:30 Lexington, MA
9 Joe Walter 8:30 Cupertino, CA
10 Cynthia Ruiz 9:30 New York, NY
11 Sara Gillinghan 9:30 Evergreen, CO
12 Allen Joo 9:30 Alhambra, CA
13 Len DeMoss 9:30 Louisville, KY
14 Mary Stripling 11:33 Reston, VA
15 Thomas Stripling 11:33 Reston, VA
16 Gayle Gordon 12:40 Evergreen, CO
17 Shirley Christman 12:40 Herndon, VA
18 Arthur Blume 13:00 Putnam Valley, NY
18 Dot Finigan 13:00 Concord, MA
19 Pat Nuzum 13:00 Bethesda, MD
20 Abelardo Vignati finisher Cusco, Peru
Mt. Ausangate 50K Adventure Run
Mt. Ausangate is the 20,905 foot sacred Apu of the highlanders (Mountain Spirit). It is seven very hard hours by bus from Cusco. The Ausangate circuit is a multi-day run that circumnavigates the mountain. The run begins at the high village of Tinqui at 12,400 feet. Day 1 is an 8 mile run across the Mapocho River, over a pass at 14,765 and ending at Upis at 14,400 feet.
Day 2 is the Mt. Ausangate 50k Adventure Run. A fun 31 miler beginning at 14,400 feet, cresting at 16,600 feet, passing around the backside of Ausangate up and down over a couple of 15,500+ foot passes. The trail traverses a spectacular pass between Ausangate and Tres Picos with glaciers all around. A 16,400 foot pass leads to the final 16,000 foot pass and a nice decent to the camp and hot springs at Pacchanta which rests in a valley at only 13, 950 feet. A light weight airline sick-bag would be useful on this route. Two runners attempted and completed the 50k; the other runners split the run into the standard 21.5 and 9.5 mile segments with a camp night in between. Day 3 is a 10k back to Tinqui over a high plateau trail.
Ray Nyce 11:03 Parker, CO
Craig Schroeter 11:05 Putnam Valley, NY
Ray Nyce is a 48 year old adventure racer and ultra runner from Parker, Colorado. He has completed the Marathon Des Sables in 1998 and 1999 with a best time of 29 hours flat. He enjoys 24 hour races and multiday adventure races and is the captain of ECO Warrior. He has completed one day ultra events on five continents so far in 1999 including the Antarctica Artigas Adventure 50k. He is married to Dianne Bailey, ECO Warrior support team captain and photographer.