This February will mark the 5th running of the now infamous Santa Cruz Andes Pacifico Enduro. A five day multi-stage adventure of a race with descents totaling over 12,000 meters on a route from the high peaks of the Andes down to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. And while the stats alone are impressive, and the always expanding network of epic trails improves year over year, it is the experiences that come when the clock isn't ticking that keep racers coming back year after year.
There's a sense of camaraderie found in multi-day adventure races that you just don't get from the more traditional enduro races that can be found in most regions of the world on any given weekend. With no set start times, and a more laid back atmosphere in regards to the pace of the liaisons, there's ample time to take in the sights and sounds as the Andes tower high overhead, or to take a swim in a river to cool off in the mid-day sun that tends to shine every single day. A welcome change for many racers who travel to the southern hemisphere to escape the grips winter has taken over their trails back home. New friendships are made, and old ones strengthened as racers tough it out together in the elements all day, and then swap stories over a few beers each night back at camp.
Each year the organizers have taken the riders' feedback from the previous year into consideration, and small improvements to the rider experience are constantly being made. Probably the most impressive of which is the food. Delicious local food is served each morning and night, with hefty portions ensuring no one will go hungry. It's also not uncommon to cross a finish line in the middle of nowhere and find a fully catered lunch spread awaiting, or piles of fresh summer fruit. And then of course there is the craft beer truck that travels from camp to camp, and the unlimited bottles of boutique Chilean wine that flows each evening. Sure you still have to sleep in a tent, but you definitely won't be roughing it.
With the first round of the Enduro World Series taking place nearby later in the year, you can be sure there will be some of the best riders in the world in attendance once again as they try to figure out how to handle the Andes infamous "anti-grip". For amateur racers this is a rare opportunity to race against or just casually ride with some of the sports biggest names as they work towards a common goal of surviving the rugged mountains. Before washing off all the dust and cleansing their wounds in the Pacific Ocean.
If riding ancient trails with thousands of meters of descending and minimal climbing, eating amazing local food, drinking al the beer and wine you like, and rubbing shoulders with top pros, all set amongst beautiful Chilean landscapes. Be sure to get yourself signed up before the event sells out for the 5th year in a row. The clock is already ticking.