Bogota Allianz 15k – Matt U

Race: Allianz 15k – Bogota, Colomobia

Runner: Matt U

Date: 6/4/17

Location: Bogota, Colombia

Results – 57:13 – 92nd overall out of 8027 runners

3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most

  • I got to race with my friends. Thankfully, I met some cool, fast guys during my first of five weeks staying in Bogota. They showed me around the city by taking me on runs in all sorts of cool places. This race was just before we left the city so I had a chance to race them all before leaving town.
  • I beat all my friends, but it took a last second surge to hold off a hard-charging Christian as he got on my shoulder in the final 100m – I hadn’t seen him the entire race.
  • There were over 8000 runners, it was the second biggest race of the year in Bogota, and while there were probably other foreigners in the race, I didn’t see any. There’s something cool about being the only guy not from Colombia in the race.

Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

  • The start is absolutely ridiculous. They had different wrist bands based on estimated finish times. However, in the final minutes before the start, everyone stampeded into the start area. There was serious pushing and shoving going on as we were slowly herded through the start. I was a good minute before I got out and I was up front with those pushing. And then once it started, there were so many slower people clogging up the road for the first mile – a real shit show of a start!

Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race

  • The majority of people in the race wear their race shirts on race day. Often seen as taboo in the US, this is common in Latin America – I learned this racing in Mexico last year. So this year I embraced the custom and raced with my blue Allianz 15k shirt likely 90% of the other racers!

Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular

  • I ran hard and did not blow up. I was scarred from the Toluca Marathon last year (9000’+ elevation and I was struggling worse than any other race in recent memory), and though this was only a 15k, going faster at altitude presents additional challenges. I ran decently fast and though I did slow some later in the race, it wasn’t drastic.

Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

  • Figure out how to get near the front to save yourself some real hassle at the start.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

  • Be better about finding the right people to run and pace with throughout the race. While there were always people around, as the race thinned after 8k, I struggled more than necessary with some head winds and some of the hills (10k and 11k into the race). Had I had the right people to be working with, I think I could have held it together better.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

  • Two overpasses during 10k and 11k. They’re not big, but if you’re already sucking wind from being over 8000’ elevation, these little hills will kick your breathing into overdrive. Not much you can do about them, unless you train specifically for the hills there, but you can at least avoid mental devastation by knowing they’re coming.

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course

  • Not really. It’s a big city, you run on big city roads, and it’s Bogota. There is certainly something cool about running a city like this, but pretty is not the word I would use to describe it. Plus, there are  plethora of fumes you’ll likely be sucking down that may well take years off your life.

Difficulty – is it a tough course

  • Yes and no. Altitude – yes. But it’s also roads and it’s generally flat. So it’s not that hard.  I don’t think locals see it as a difficult course.

Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

  • Online registration was easy if you can read Spanish. They asked for my insurance company and blood type during registration – interesting. Packet pickup was big with lots of big name companies present. It was easy to get to and get through though. Race day was smooth overall. Good finisher area with food and drink at the end. Start area was the only real fiasco.

Competition – is there a strong field?

  • Yeah. There are some fast runners in Colombia and I think they’re all at this race. I thnk the winner wins a new car.

Aid Stations

  • Water and gatorade at many spots. Water comes in little plastic bags. I think they had some gel too along the way. I didn’t take anything but it seemed like a substantial amount of aid available.

Weather and typical race conditions –

  • 60s, cloudy, slight head wind. Good weather for racing.

Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

  • Nothing special. I wore my favorite Salomon tights with the pockets built in. I carried my phone so I could Uber to the race. No gear needed for carrying any fueling stuff though – it’s only a 15k.

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends

  • I assume so, but I was a tourist in Bogota and not super efficient at getting around. I imagine it is fairly easy to hit a couple spots along the way though if you know what you’re doing.

The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it

  • 4.5/5 Totally unique experience, good people to run with, fast and competitive, and a real challenge given the altitude. If the start wasn’t so ridiculous, it’d be a 5 out of 5.

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