After an amazing stay at the Aconcagua it was hard to decide whether to stay there or to move on. Our scheduled plan was to run the Aconcagua Ultra Trail, but we considered that it would be good to have a change of scenery, so we chose to run the 4Refugios non stop instead!
It’s Argentina’s most technical race and it follows a classical trekking route which connects four mountain huts. It’s a skyrace of 44K with exceptionally beautiful scenery made up of forest, green meadows, mountain lakes and stunning grey rocky peaks, painted against a clear blue sky.
It all fitted well because the race takes place on the same weekend, on Sunday 23 February.
It was a 23 hour journey by bus to get from Mendoza to Lago Puelo. There, we were invited to Fer and Julietas house. We were welcomed heartily and felt at home instantly in their pretty, mainly self built wooden house. The house has a big garden which the family shares with their lovely dog Aaron, a horse, a pony and a cat. It has stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
We stayed for nearly a week and it became a useful recovery week for me! Juli is a real power woman and she was on top of everything, even though simultaneously, she was working towards her own big sports goal . I felt ill for much of the week. My back was recovering but the gastroenteritis flared up again and made me feel really weak. I slept for many hours and gratefully accepted being looked after. Onna and Fran happily amused themselves. Pere was feeling strong, so along with Fer, he had some dynamic training sessions in the mountains and along the river side.
On the Wednesday before the race we travelled to Bariloche. I felt rested and much better and we had some really good days before the race. Fede, the race director explained every detail we wanted to know about the race and made our stay go really smoothly. One of the problems we had to solve was that the clothing for the race which had been sent from Spain, was stuck at the aduana and we couldn’t find a way to have it sent to us. We solved the issue by putting our sponsors’ logo on spare pieces of clothing, which had the desired result!
The night before the race Fer, Juli and Fran drove up and Onna went to stay the night with them. The race started at 5am, so for her this was the best option. She could rest well, play with her friend and join us again at the finish line.
Run the 4Refugios non stop instead
I didn’t feel well-prepared for the race and a couple of days beforehand I contacted a new sports psychologist. There wasn’t much time but Koen (RunningBarcelona.com) said he wanted to speak to me before the race. On Saturday afternoon, only a few hours before going to bed we arranged a whatsap video call and talked through various issues. The night was short and I was not able to sleep well either. We got up at 3am and prepared ourselves to drive to the race start.
My mind was set. I had my strategy ready and trusted that it was going to be easy to fulfill!
When I started running my legs still felt weak. My physical condition was far from perfect. The race went as Koen had told me it may go if I achieved and maintained my mental attitude. I ran the first 17km with a kind of “survival” strategy. I was in 4th place most of the time. Then, the terrain became extremely technical and suddenly I felt as if I was a child playing on the rocks! I began to enjoy myself immensely and speeded up without realising it. A few km later I had passed all the women ahead of me and started to feel that competitive spark! It lasted until I crossed the finish line and I became the female winner of this year’s edition of this magnificent race!
The race is one of the most beautiful and technical races I have ever run! The nature around Bariloche is simply breathtaking. The views are absolutely stunning and the terrain seems designed for real skyrunning lovers!
Fede, the race director looks after every detail and makes the event even more attractive.
I feel very grateful to all the people who have made our experience in this part of South America so special! Now, we are heading to Bolivia and Peru where we will explore and start our next training block to prepare ourselves for the Volcano Ultra Marathon!
Thanks NKBV for making this journey possible!
First of all I would like to say that for me the 4 Refugios is one of the top 3 most beautiful races in which I have ever competed.
I am already looking forward to returning, because this time I didn’t feel that great.
The start of the race was fast because the path was very narrow right from the beginning and everyone wanted to have a good position. I immediately noticed that my legs did not have their usual strength and therefore it would be a tough race.
Once in the path, the pace of the front runners slowed down, but I still didn’t feel comfortable.
After two hours into the race it was becoming light. We ran in a group of four runners at the head of the race. As each kilometre passed by I started to feel better, so I decided to increase my pace a little. Soon I was alone in first position.
Going first in this race is complicated if you don’t know the terrain because it is very technical and it is mainly marked with red dots on the stones (like in a GR). It is easy to get lost or to waste time looking for the right path. So, I decided to slow down a bit until Gabi Rueda, who was in second place, caught up. He knows the race inside out. He arrived alone and at a strong pace !! The other two runners had stayed behind and so the rest of the race became a duel between him and me.
During the next km I was having a great time following his footsteps without worrying about having to find the way.
However, in the last part of the race he changes up a gear. My legs were already feeling tired soI was not able to respond to the faster pace. Finally, I had to content myself with the second position.