Next week I will be setting off for Nicaragua to compete in my first international race; the Fuego Y Agua 100K. Focusing at work has become increasingly challenging as this trip has approached. I may or may not be writing this from my desk… Not only am I excited about this epic race, but also our plans afterwards to explore the Western side of the country. Treehouse hotels, beaches, surfing, coffee plantations, showing off my latin dance moves, jungles, volcanoes… Damn I’m pumped.
I first heard about Fuego Y Agua after last years coverage on irunfar.com when a handful of fast runners showed up to race. Nick Clark took the win and set a new course record. I soon forgot about the race, until I started looking for an international race. I made a goal starting this year that I would race overseas at least once per year. I started looking at the big names like Transgrancanaria, UTMB, Levarado Trail, HK100, Etc… Then I ran across Fuego Y Agua 100K. The course… sick. The flight… cheap. The beer… cheaper. I signed up immediately.
The weekend consists of 4 races; 3 running races at distances of 25K, 50K, and 100K. The 4th is called the survival challenge and only had two finishers last year and is a 75K course with surprise challenges along the way. Example, the race started last year at bib pickup when runners were told their bibs were in a boat ½ mile out in the lake. Jump in the water and get it. Climb trees, carry logs, dig up shit, solve problems to get water… its wild. I am going to focus on the much more normal 100K… because running 100K is way more mainstream right?
The 100K, 62 miles for those metric impaired folks, is ran on Ometepe Island. It is the largest and highest volcanic island that resides in a lake. The two volcanoes that created this island are named Concepcion and Maderas, which stand at about 5,000feet. Maderas is Dormant, Concepcion is active and last erupted in 2010. The climate and geography boasts beautiful arid beach front and lush rain forest, all of which we get to explore during the race.
The course is amazing. It also is new this year. The most notable changes are the new start in Playa Santo Domingo, running around the south side of Maderas, and climbing all the way to the top of the crater of Concepcion whereas before it stopped a good 500ft shy. The race starts at 5:00am with a 2.5 mile section that is relatively flat. This will provide a good opportunity to warm up if the balmy 80 degrees has not yet done the trick. Immediately after this section we will start climbing. And I mean climbing; a 4,250ft climb in 4.3 miles and includes navigating some thick jungle and sloppy mud. You slide down into the crater, climb back out, and then descend the 4,250ft in 5.6 miles to the village of Merida. After Merida, the race runs around the south side of Maderas for 18.5 miles with only 1,200ft of total climbing… so relatively flat. It hits Playa Santa Domingo again where the 50Kers stop and the 100Kers continue onwards for 3.7 miles towards Concepcion, the second major climb. This climb is a brutal 4,600ft climb in 3.7 miles. It then descends back down the same way and then runs around the south side of the volcano with a 18.6 mile loop with 1,600ft of climbing and ending back at Playa Santo Domingo. So my estimate is that this 100K has about 12.3K vert, around 9K of which climbs 1,000feet every mile. It will be interesting to see how my legs react on the flats as a result of the steep climbs.
Outside of an amazing course and race, this organization gives an extreme amount of time and resources back to the community. It is so great to see an event like this making an impact on the local community. The Fuego Y Agua race collects school supplies and gives proceeds from the race to support this effort. It also has a trash pick up day a few days prior to the race to help clean up the local area. Lastly, it also puts on a race for the local children called Calzado Kids (http://fuegoyagua.org/calzado/ ) the day following the 100K. Overall, there are a lot of wonderful things coming out of this great event and RD Josue and team deserve a huge amount of credit for organizing such a great event.
I look forward to running this event and exploring the coutry afterwards. This should make for a great post race write up.
More pics added. I pulled these from the facebook page to give some context to the awesomeness of these climbs…