Costa Rica travel

Irazu Volcano Half Marathon Challenge

Racers eager to get at it
Racers eager to get at it

On the weekend I took part in Skyrunning Costa Rica half marathon on the Irazu Volcano just north of San Jose, Costa Rica. The best way I can describe it is a brutal run with fantastic views.

When I registered I purchased the “International Racers” package and it was well worth it. Registration for the race was $50US, the International package was $185US and included registration, transportation to the hotel as well as to and from the race. Accommodation at Apartamentos Tairona in San Pedro, San Jose, which I would highly recommend. They even fed us lunch and breakfast at the hotel. Occasionally communications were a bit delayed, but the organizers came through with everything they promised.

The accommodation provided in the package
The accommodation provided in the package

The start/finish area for the 5, 10, 21km races.
The start/finish area for the 5, 10, 21km races.

They had all the resources for a safe and enjoyable race.

Kept busy with twisted ankle and such.
Kept busy with twisted ankles and such.
All smiles before the race
All smiles before the race

The race itself, WOW! What a beautiful venue for such an event. Make no mistake, this is a tough run. But that in itself makes it exceptional. The views from the side of the volcano are wonderful. The race winds up and down the volcano through farm land and pastures. As I came around the first corner of the race I saw the preview of what to expect, with a goat by the side of the road. We ran past cows grazing in pastures and horses wandering along the roadway grazing. When running on the trails we encountered a very fine dirt, almost like flour. For a good portion of the run we were surrounded by this fine dust. Not a problem, until later. I will come to that.

Starting the race at 5:00pm provides an excellent opportunity to see the valley both in the daylight and after dark. The views with the clouds below you are wonderful. And the sunset provided a welcome distraction from the pain of the hills you encounter on the course. As you near the end of the course the view of the stars at that elevation are spectacular. Truly a non stop vista of changing views. You are also reminded that you are in a functioning farming community as you make your way along the course. From the aromas provided by livestock to being overtaken in the dark by a local riding his horse up the road with you.

For me the most challenging portion of the course, other than the soul destroying inclines, was the 4km downhill stretch in the final third of the race. The course became quite congested with runners coming together from the different distances and together we kicked up a lot of dust. The light from our headlamps would reflect off the dust in the air meaning for most of the descent you could not see the ground right in front of you. It reminded me of driving through a snow storm with your high beams on your car, totally blinding. What made this so challenging was I was never sure where the ground was as I was running downhill. Try it sometime, it is a wonderful experience for your knees and body as a whole.

In the end I placed 43rd out of 112 men in the half marathon with a time of 2:39:42. For this old boy, I am very pleased. I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a unique challenge to include in their travels.



Welcome to our travel blog. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to say, "I'm out of here?" Well we did, and in 2013 we made it a reality. We sold or gave away all of our possessions other than what fit in our luggage and we set off on an endless adventure. Part of our goal is to share our experiences with others and hopefully provide some information, motivation, or just a moments escape. The general idea was to look for a place that would be ideal to settle down in. However in the meantime it is about experiencing life in different countries amongst different cultures and learning how to understand and appreciate each other. A large part of our time is spent housesitting which provides an excellent opportunity to experience more of the "normal" neighbourhoods as opposed to the tourist locales. Though we make sure to enjoy those as well. So through plenty of photographs and a running commentary come and share with us our life on the road.

7 comments on “Irazu Volcano Half Marathon Challenge

  1. Adams, Dianna


  2. One of the bookers ...

    Congratulations! Sounds prettier than the Policeman’s Half … 🙂 What was Karen’s time? 😉

  3. Lawrence

    Nice narrative you should write a book

  4. Lol oh Peter that is friggen awesome ! Yes you are a machine. I am inspired to buy some new runners. Nice write Peter did you find that the air smelled different from one section to another or time of day ? Keep the posts coming. Thanks kev

    • Couldn’t help but notice the change in aroma as we ran by cow pastures as opposed to fields of vegetables. You would love the hills here Kev. They are crazy.

  5. HAHA, now that is a memory Kev. One of the memories I use to help keep me going on hills.

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