Zolkan 4 Days: It has begun

A REVIEW of the action from day 1.


Zolkan 4 Day

Laguna Piuquenes to Antawaya, 28km and 3,000m of descent


Route map of Day 1




FORTY competitors started a four day running race today in the Andes mountains of Chile. At 11am local time the runners toed the start line against a snowcapped backdrop of 5,000m Andean peaks. Professional runners had travelled as far as France, the US and Canada. As the race got underway, it was quickly obvious why they had made all the effort to come to run.


What’s Zolkan 4 Days? Read our race preview here.


Down, Down, Down through rocks and stunted shrubs and golden dust they descended onto the flanks of the ski runs. A breakaway group of six strong Chilean runners were joined by the French favourite Seb Chaigneau (see preview) and his countryman Fabien Beaufils. The heat increased. The southern hemisphere summer was tipped to reach 36 degrees Celsius today. Even the Huaso cowboys were wearing their sombreros.


Into high Andean meadows next, peppered with purple and yellow wild flowers. A long-dead cow lay close to the trail. It had been pecked clean on the inside by condors and only the sun-baked leather skin was left. Race favourite Francisco Pino (see preview) had to leap the animal as the pack surged forward.


Zolkan 4 Days

Race favourite Sebastien Chaigneau in the lead.


White tape led the way further down into the ski resort towns of La Parva and Farellones. Runners crossed rivers and dunked their hats in streams to fight off the rising heat. They jogged briefly down the hairpin bends used by cars to access the ski resort, then dived again onto steep single-track for more technical running. The lead pack was reduced to four.



Veronica Bravo leading the women’s race.


With one more mountain to descend, Moises Jimenez made a wild surge to escape the dust kicked up by the lead pack. The Frenchman, Fabien Beaufils, reigned him in however as they skidded and slid through the cactus lined trails in pursuit. In the final 2km the terrain finally relented. It’s a long four days in the mountains and it’s perhaps no surprise that the most experienced runner, Seb Chaigneau, let his younger French counterpart, Fabien Beaufils, and the two hot blooded Chileans race to the finish.


In the women’s race, The North Face runner Veronica Bravo from Chile, had a strong run and has opened a commanding lead at the end of Day 1.



The backdrop to the Zolkan 4 Days race will never fail to disappoint.


How did the runners get on from our preview?




A very strong day for the Chilean athlete that puts him into joint first place going into day 2. He recovered with a homemade drink of chia seeds, linseed, quinoa and ginger.



Francesca Conte


Francesca had a controlled day and arrived looking strong and ready for the challenges that lay ahead. She had a long shower and was seen heading to the ice baths provided by this luxurious race.



Seb Chaigneau


A controlled effort that showed maturity and intelligent pacing from the Frenchman. He is training now for Transgrancanaria and Zolkan 4 Days is a key training block for him. It will be interesting to see how hard he pushes himself over the next three days.



Rory Bosio


Due to unforseen circumstances Rory was unable to travel to Zolkan 4 Days and will not be competing.

Instead we will be following the Chilean The North Face athlete Veronica Bravo.


Zolkan 4 Days


Vero also had a very strong day (finishing just ahead of our journalist Matt Maynard). She is suffering from a painful toe from where she lost a nail in an ultra race last year. Nevertheless, Bravo comes from an adventure racing background and her greatest skill is pushing hard when things get tough and it would be surprising if she is not top of the podium at the end of the week.



ultra mel and jon

Jon and Mel started the race wearing Huarache running sandals. The terrain proved very challenging, however, they changed running shoes that they carried in their sacks. Unfortunately they got lost later on and arrived at the finish line later than they had hoped for.


Here is a link to the complete leaderboard at the end of Day 1.


Zolkan 4 Days

Day 2 looks to be just as hot and demanding as today’s race.


Looking ahead:


Day 2 is the meat of the race. It’s going to be hard and hot! The second day of racing takes the runners on a complete traverse of the entire Ramon Massif. A full mountain marathon awaits them and almost three vertical kms of climbing along its length. Anything could happen. Keep tuned and stay in touch with our Twitter feed here.



Don’t forget to check for more updates from the race tomorrow at limitlesspursuits.com. There will be more updates from Matt Maynard and photography by @kirsten.m.kortebein.


Matt Maynard is a writer, ultra runner and environmentalist. He lives and works in Santiago, Chile after arriving there by bicycle. @GreenBeanTrails www.matt-maynard.com

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