Race: El Cruce
Runner: Daniel Murillo
Race Date: 12/05/2021
Location: Villa la Angostura, Argentina
Results: Barely finished
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
El Cruce is a 3 day stage race in the mountains in the Patagonia. It is promoted as a 100KM race though distance varies as the course is changed every year. My year was a little under 90K, with about 11K vertical feet of elevation gain over the 3 days.
- The scenery and terrain is breathtaking. The terrain can be quite technical and very dramatically. We ran through high desert, forest, rivers, muddy soil, loose volcanic soil, and everything in between. Strong runners clocked in at about three hours per day whereas I was somewhere between 4 to 5. The racers vary dramatically. There were some people in their late 60s that pretty much hiked the whole thing.
- At the end of the day you finish at a different campsite where you have a tent set up and your bag with clothes and so forth is waiting for you. There is great food at the campsite and masseuses and since it is on the lakefront you can go bathe in the lake and hang out. In the morning you pack up your bag and drop it off and it gets moved to the next campsite.
- You just run with your hydration pack and nutrition. There were four different start dates each with about 1000 runners per wave. The vibe of the racers and the campsite and so forth was terrific. Everyone is just so happy to be out there and positive. It was very physically demanding but so beautiful and a wonderful experience.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
You are camping for two nights so that poses its own set of physical challenges. Sleeping on a camping pad after a grueling day of running is hard. Try doing that two nights in a row. That part of the physical challenge made it more interesting to me but I can see how others might be turned off by it.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
- On the second night they had a kind of Ibiza style beach party on the lake with a full bar and people were getting pretty into it. Argentinians know how to have fun.
- There was a section where the pitch was so extreme they had a rope set up so you were basically rappelling down the side of the mountain.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
As this was my first trail race, I am just happy to have finished. I loved the camaraderie on the trail and the incredible range of terrain. It required a lot of focus and concentration throughout the entire race.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
I was not prepared for all the different types of terrain. For example, volcanic sand that Sink into your knees and end up with pebbles in your shoes. There was a bit of running on snow as well and crossing through rivers with wet shoes.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
The degree of pitch on some of the downhill was pretty severe and I should have done more hard vertical downhill training as that really did a number on my quads.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
It is breathtakingly beautiful
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
It was incredibly well organized. They’ve been running this race for about 20 years
Competition – Is there a strong field?
The elite runners which went on day one finished the race in six hours and 33 minutes. I ran in about 14 hours. The guys in my group all agreed that the winners are just as impressive as any two hour marathoner.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
Registration does fill up pretty quickly so sign up early. Getting there is a pain in the ass since you have to fly another two hours from Buenos Aires to Bariloche. So plan to make it a whole vacation.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
There were 2 aid and hydration stations on the course each day. Very well organized
Weather and typical race conditions
The weather converted dramatically. Day one was blue skies in the 70s and Day 3 was a rain deluge and lightning
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
I should’ve brought the little shoe condoms to keep rocks out of my shoes
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
How’s the Swag?
Very good. We got a fleece, a long sleeve shirt, a race shirt and a shirt to wear around the camp
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
9!! I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to do it again
Thinking about running your first ultra? Check out our 7 steps to get started.