Across the AndesFrom The Field
Last November, Columbia’s Directors of Toughness, including Britain’s Mark Chase and America’s Faith Briggs, were picked from more than 4,000 applicants from the US, Canada and the UK, and hired to spend the next nine months testing Columbia’s gear in the toughest conditions around the globe. Below is Mission #3, the infamous Columbia El Cruce Race. This trail race in the Andes links Argentina and Chile, is 100km long with over 6,000m of vertical ascent, and takes place over three consecutive days. We caught up with Faith to see how she got on.
Faith Briggs: ‘When you leave the pavement behind and opt instead for the trails your body enters a new running arena, one of heightened awareness, varied muscle use and an incomparable way of connecting with yourself and your surroundings.
‘Over the course of three days we gained more than 13,000ft and ran more than 60 miles. If you aren’t ready for it, high-intensity hiking and uphill running can really do a number on your legs. The terrain often means using muscles you do not regularly engage and if your quads seize up from cramps mid-way through a run you might be in trouble. So if you are hitting the trails, you definitely want to include quad-strengthening exercises in your training plan.
‘The most important phrase I heard during the race experience was Hay que disfrutarla, which means, “You need to enjoy it”. Although I battled with injury, and the time wasn’t what I wanted, I met amazing people, experienced an absolutely breathtaking environment and was able to complete my most challenging course thus far. Taking the advice to enjoy the experience was what made this such a special adventure.’