The Ninth Annual Come to Galapagos Marathon is Being Held Twice!
August 4 and October 13, 2019
(marathon, half marathon and 10K)
In response to popular demand and in an effort to keep the running field to the limited number we can manage in the personalized style we do; the 2019 Come to Galapagos Marathon will be held August 4 (cool weather here, a “light month” for marathons offered elsewhere in the world) and October 13 (cool weather here, the slow season for tourism and so a good date for the local economy).
Sign up early, enrollment is limited!
We will hold the event in the same manner we have for the previous four years as a private event for international runners, each of whom sponsors a local runner by paying for their entrance fee and optionally sending them running gear before or bringing it with them. The event will be open to international runners that also participate in the Come To Galapagos Marathon Tour Package click here. Race registration and disclaimer form click here.
Zambo video of last year’s runners.
ESPN feature program on the 2012 Come to Galapagos Marathon, part of their series, “The Best Marathon’s on the Planet” click here.
All of the visiting runners spend the night in a hotel fifty feet from the starting line. This allows them to get an extra hour of sleep (don’t have to be transported up to the start line), use the indoor “facilities” directly before the race, spend some time with the other runners in a communal setting (spaghetti dinner the night before, tour the course the day before).
Each marathon runner is assigned their own personal “driver/caddy”. This man waits two kilometers down the course, hydrates them, drives two kilometers ahead again, stops where ever there is a course change to be sure the runners are on the course, drives two kilometers ahead, etc. until the runners cross the finish line.
This allows runners to have whatever beverage they want, cast off jackets, wet sponges etc. Also allows us to know where every runner is on the course and how they are doing.
In the days that follow the race we show the runners the greatest hits of the Galapagos. Always rave reviews.
During the sixth annual Come to Galapagos Marathon, everyone finished and no one got hurt. As a race director those are your first goals.
You might say everyone enjoyed themselves, though while running a marathon there may be some joyful moments, there are always some pretty tough kilometers so that much of the joy of running a marathon can be of the retro variety, much of the joy comes after the fact. For the Come to Galapagos marathon runners that becomes heightened in that they are touring the Galapagos for a week.
The two most remarkable things that happened this year were: one we had two women racing in their 260th marathon and 400th, Domitilia Santos and Susan Dailey. The two knew each other from other international marathons. It was only a coincidence they both happen to be here for this one. Domitilia’s photo here marathon #260.
and two a couple who finished the marathon 5 hours after the winner Cilia Kujala did. Celia ran a tough course in 3:59:37, just 27 minutes off the course record. The course changes a little year to year depending on road conditions etc. so she actually holds the record for the fastest time in the history of the world for this course! But, back to the couple that finished in 9 hours and 15 minutes, that was something to have seen, quite an accomplishment. Each marathon runner has their own Caddy that supplies them every second kilometer, always there, always ready should someone get hurt, always ready should someone want to quit. It would have been so easy to just get in the cab. That particular couple, one of them crossed the starting line hobbling, the other one is in love with the first, never left her side for the last few hours. We don’ t have a cut off time, mostly because everyone has travelled so far to get here, but also exactly because sometimes the most important thing is finishing or helping your loved one finish.
We held the fourth annual marathon here Oct. 19, 2014. The only hick ups we had were some lost luggage (fortunately handled, luggage delivered same day from Baltra thanks to some hard working chaps) and some late entrants who happened to be super athletes. We were lucky in that they were locals and knew the course. They ran a really tough 21.1 K course in one hour and twenty minutes (incredibly fast, they were “training”), which happened to be a little ahead of the schedule for setting up the later stage aid stations, not to mention the finish line.
They were sitting on the steps waiting for our people to show up, give them their metals, t-shirts and run times. The only reason I can smile and I am while writing this is that they didn’t need the aid stations or their running times, were grateful for us setting up the course, getting them up to the start and the t-shirt and medal which was paid for by our visiting runners. We had a 42k “real” marathon (here the word “marathon” is used rather loosely. Very few people associate the word to ancient Greece, any distance can and is called a “marathon”) and a half marathon. To me, the most important thing is no one needed emergency care and everyone finished the course. The second most important thing is that everyone is/was happy; which we seemed to have accomplished.
We handled this a little different this year than we have in the past. We made this a private event as opposed to public. The visiting runners sponsored local runners. We had all of the visiting runners spend the night in the highlands, close to the start point in a kind of communal setting, spaghetti dinner together, get up early, which saved them an hour to an hour and a half of sleep as they didn’t need to be transported up to the starting line at 4 AM (me too as I was with them).
There were only six people running the full marathon, which allowed me the ability to assign a vehicle to each runner, forego a ton of aid stations, coordinating signs etc. and to know exactly where each of them were and how they were doing at all times. Their personal “driver/caddy” just had to point them in the right direction, drive ahead two kilometers and stop to hydrate them and stop at every intersection where they had to change course, then drive ahead two kilometers to wait for them again until they crossed the finish line. That’s what we’ll do next year.
The half marathon runners had a very simple course and only three aid stations. We showed everyone the course the afternoon before on a bus ride, ending at a sea lion filled beach and the finish line. The weather did exactly what it was supposed to that time of year; cloudy, light drizzle in the highlands, dry and cloudy at the coast, perfect running weather. In four tries I’ve never had a more relaxing time managing this event, not that I was relaxed until the last runner finished, but you can imagine the difference between not being sure and knowing exactly where and how everyone of these runners were doing.
The people that were involved in this event are as excited about the next one as am I. It’s pretty fun not only being able to show you guys the Galapagos outside the “tourism envelope” , but also to watch you cross the finish line of a marathon before you even start really getting to know the Galapagos. The 2018 Come To Galapagos Marathon is on for next Aug. 5 and Oct. 14. Tell your friends. It’s going to necessarily be a limited field.
The people overseeing the event will be the Come to Galapagos family: farm workers, fishermen, restaurant staff, hotel owners, Galapagos Park guides, etc. all the people that regularly work with us caring for our guests here on San Cristobal.
|Click Here for ESPN’s coverage of the 2012 Come To Galapagos Marathon|
The dates were chosen for three reasons:
- August and October are two of the cooler months here. Typical high temperature 70 degrees, generally slightly over cast, far better running conditions than 85 degrees with 95 percent humidity and a blistering equatorial sun.
- The date is far enough off to give people time to plan.
- October is one of the less traveled months here, hence the runners will have less impact on visitor sites, etc. And the Family Come to Galapagos will get a financial shot in the arm when they can use it the most.
- For packing and traveling tips click here.
We try to plan and organize every detail, but each year something wonderful happens that we didn’t plan. The first year there was a farmer cheering and throwing flower peddles as the marathon runners past and there was the group of kids playing soccer at the stadium near the finish line who got the bright idea to escort the marathon runners as they entered the stadium and made their way around the last 300 meters of the track to the finish line. The kids liked it because they got to cross the finish line and receive the applause again and again. The runners said it was the most helpful thing that had ever happened to them finishing a marathon. So we’ve made that a tradition.
One year there was a man at kilometer 32 giving the runners that wanted it, a bucket full of water on the head. He just happened to be there at K 32, “the wall”. Several runners told me that bucket of water and that man standing there with his willingness to help them made the difference. There is an old woman who sits at “four corners” every day with her wheel barrow, selling a dollar’s worth of whatever fruit is in season here. It is her only source of income. If I’m passing I always stop and buy whatever she’s selling whether I need it or not. The day of the marathon she wheeled her wheel barrow full of fruit the few blocks over to the stadium and just gave us all she had “for the runners”, she said.
And each year there have also been some goof ups. The first year we had a police man directing the last runners off the course (short cut to the finish line). In 2011 a corporal in the navy decided to clean up the last four aid stations while there were still fifteen runners attempting to finish the course. I turned into a mobile aid station on my ATV, hydrating these last runners home.
Normally our business is customizing private tours of the Galapagos, so over the years we’ve seen many kinds of travelers. I have to say marathon runners as a whole are some of the most gracious, patient, appreciative visitors we have had the pleasure of sharing these islands with.
Ideally, what you want for a marathon course is a 42 kilometer oval on a flat plane, within a high branched pine forest so that it is shady and the pine needles make for a nice cushy running surface. You want the oval so that the race can begin and end at the same point; anything less than that is a compromise.
We have no pine forests, no flats to speak of. The longest mostly paved road on the island is 26 kilometers long, but I came up with the easiest course I could find, one that among other things, crosses five climatic zones, features extraordinary vistas and passes spots where occasionally there are grazing wild giant tortoises and lounging sea lions.
It is a “tough” course. Most runners if they start running to see how fast they can do it, soon give the idea up and settle into the idea of just enjoying the run. Please see results/reviews/photos from previous years.
The marathon course starts at 574 meters above sea level on the highest part of the paved road which crosses the island. It ends at a small beach in town about a hundred yards from your hotel. The course is run on asphalt, cement, inlaid blocks or dirt road. There are two stretches that run along the coast. The runners will pass through 5 vegetation zones (miconia, scalesia, transitional, arid and costal). Figuring in all of the undulations the course has an approximate net downhill of 808 meters (2,650.9 ft.) and an approximate net uphill of 234 meters (767.7 ft.). The last 10 kilometers have a net rise of 75 meters (246 ft.) and fall of 60 meters (196.5 ft.). The last 3 kilometers are relatively flat.
The half marathon is run entirely on asphalt, cement, inlaid blocks or dirt road. It starts at 574 meters above sea level on the highest part of the paved road which crosses the island. It ends at a small beach in town about a hundred yards from your hotel, has an approximate net downhill of 584 meters (1,916 ft.) and an approximate net uphill of 42 meters (137.8 ft.).