Marathons, half-marathons and other running races are extremely popular all over the world, and can be a unique way to experience places you’ve never been before. We’ve selected ten popular running races in Latin America, ranging from city marathons to longer routes in more challenging conditions. Combine a holiday to Latin America with a running race and add a few more days before and after the event for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
1. Bogotá Half Marathon, Colombia
The annual Bogotá half marathon takes place every July or August. The marathon received its IAAF Gold Label Road Race status, making it the first and so far only South American race to receive this official recognition. It’s seen as the biggest athletic event in Colombia, with around 45,000 runners taking part. In addition to the half marathon, there is also a 10km course. Both races start at Bolívar Square, the main square of Bogotá, and finish at the main entrance of Simon Bolivar Park.
Visit Bogotá on our Signature Colombia: Culture and coffee or Self-drive Colombia: Exploring the Coffee Region and beyond holidays.
2. Mexico City International Marathon, Mexico
The annual Mexico City International Marathon takes place each year in late August / beginning of September. The marathon started in 1983 and recently received the IAAF Bronze Label status. Besides the elite marathon, there are also running categories including ‘wheelchairs’ and ‘all other long-distance runners.’ The race features the Olympic route which shows several places of interests, including monuments, parks and buildings. The marathon starts in the Almeda Park and finishes at the Olympic Stadium.
Visit Mexico City on our Signature Mexico: Cultural heartlands to Caribbean coast or Value Mexico: Highlights of Mexico City and the Yucatán holidays.
3. Patagonian International Marathon, Chile
The annual Patagonian International Marathon takes place in early September to the south of the majestic Torres del Paine National Park. The closest city to the event’s race zone is Puerto Natales, located 250km to the north of Punta Arenas, the region’s capital. Runners can choose between 42km, 32km or 10km race distances, all of which take place in incredible surroundings and offer the opportunity to spot condors, Andean deer and pumas if lucky. Due to its pristine location, this event attracts runners from over 50 different countries each year.
Visit Torres del Paine National Park on our Signature Patagonia: Glaciers of Chile and Argentina or Value Patagonia: Journey to the Glaciers holidays.
4. Ultra Boliva Race, Bolivia
The Ultra Bolivia Race is a 230km foot race, divided into seven stages, taking place on the Bolivian Altiplano. In September 2018, the race will start in Salinas, 550km from La Paz and finish on the Uyuni Salt Flats. Other sites covered during the seven-day-race are the top of the Altiplano (up to 4100m), the foot of the Tunupa Volcano, Isla del Pescado and Isla Incahuasi. The landscapes along the way are breathtaking, making it a highly popular race.
Visit the Altiplano and the Uyuni Salt Flats on our Signature Bolivia: The final frontier or Discover Bolivia and Northwest Argentina holidays.
5. The Atacama Crossing, Chile
The Atacama Crossing is a 250km race, divided into seven stages. The event takes place in September around San Pedro de Atacama, in the Atacama Desert. The race is self-supported, which means that participants have to bring their own sleeping gear, clothes, food, water and equipment with them. It’s considered to be one of the most difficult races in the world, with temperatures rising up to 46 °C during the day and the course reaching elevations between 2,400m and 3,500m.
Visit the Atacama Desert on our Signature Chile: Atacama Desert to Patagonian glaciers or Self-drive Chile: Off the beaten track holidays.
6. Grand Salomon K42 Adventure Marathon, Argentina
The international K42 series spans over twelve countries and three continents. The big finale of the series is in Villa La Angostura, in the Lake District in Patagonia. Here, the 42km and 15km races take place in November. High altitudes and temperatures ranging between 2.5 °C and 27°C together with strong winds make both challenging runs. The course features dirt trails circling the surrounding lakes, spectacular waterfalls and mountain views.
Visit the Argentine Lake District on our Signature Patagonia: Highlights of Patagonia or Value Argentina: Explore Patagonia holidays.
7. Costa Rica Ultra Trail – La Transtica, Costa Rica
The annual Costa Rica Ultra Trail – La Transtica is divided into five stages with a total distance of 117km (Adventure Race) and 200km (Extreme Race), and takes place in November. The race starts at Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast and finishes at Puerto Viejo de Limon on the Caribbean coast. This makes for an incredible variety of scenery, from thick jungle to sandy beaches. The main objective of the race is to explore all facets of the country and share the experience with locals, who host the runners during the bivouacs.
Visit Costa Rica on our Signature Costa Rica: The natural highlights or Value Costa Rica: The essential highlights holidays.
8. Escape From the Jungle Race, Belize
The next installment of the Escape from the Jungle Race takes place in Belize in February 2020 and is seen as one of the hardest races in the world. After a six-day training programme, participants will be dropped in the deep jungle in the dark, with a map, compass and compulsory survival kit. They have six days to reach the finish line using their survival, speed and navigation skills. In total, over 200km will be covered on terrain featuring river crossings, swamps and dense jungle – all of this in extreme conditions, including high humidity levels and scorching temperatures.
Visit Belize on our Signature Belize: Rainforest, reef and ruins or Value Belize: Mayan mountains and Caribbean Caye holidays.
9. Marathon Caixa de Cidade de Rio, Brazil
The annual Rio marathon takes place in June and showcases the best of the vibrant city. The course takes runners through the popular neighbourhoods of Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana, and offers picturesque views of the coastline and Sugarloaf Mountain. The finish line is in Flamengo. It’s also possible to take part in the half-marathon or the 6km family run. It’s a popular event, with over 100.000 local supporters cheering the runners on to victory.
Visit Rio de Janeiro on our Signature Brazil: Brazil at a Glance or Value Brazil: The Emerald Coast holidays.
10. Inca Trail Marathon, Peru
The Inca Trail Marathon to Machu Picchu is nicknamed ‘the most difficult marathon in the world’, and the next edition will take place in June 2019. This extreme race features the famous Inca Trail, gorgeous scenery and Inca ruins in the Southern Peruvian Andes. The course is 42km in length and crosses a 4200m mountain pass before descending down via the cloud forest trail towards the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu.
Visit Machu Picchu on our Signature Peru: The Inca Heartland or Value Peru: Sacred Valley of the Incas to Lake Titicaca holidays.