2016 Zolkan 4 Days Photo Gallery
[Editor’s Note: In this article, photographer Kirsten Kortebein documents the 2016 Zolkan 4 Days race in Chile. All photos and words are by Kirsten Kortebein.]
Last week marked the inaugural edition of Zolkan 4 Days, a 100-kilometer, four-stage trail race in Chile. The race’s concept was to cross the country of Chile from west to east, from the Andes mountains to the Pacific Ocean; it included 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) of elevation gain and 8,000 meters (26,240 feet) of loss.
Forty-four runners ran the race, coming from eight different countries to run across the country and spend time together. The size of the race made for a spirit of encouragement and support during the day, and laughter and shared moments during the evening.
The race organization’s objective was to give runners an all-inclusive race experience, contrasting grueling days out with don’t-worry-about-anything evenings. The race’s four stages were filled with painful kilometers for many competitors, including extreme changes in altitude, temperature, and weather, which often left runners exposed–without warning–to biting winds and harsh Chilean sun. However, upon arrival to each day’s base camp, the runners had “everything [we] could ever ask for, seriously!” Post-race evenings offered runners a smorgasbord of options for recovery and opportunities to spend time together. Dinners were filled with traditional food, from local fish to empanadas, and the regional beer and wine never seemed to run out. (Except on Day Three, nobody is quite sure what happened to the wine on Day Three.)
This race offered a clear example of the balance between extremely hard work, and recovery and relaxation. All in all, the week is probably best summed up by a runner’s quote from the final finish line: “They pamper you at night… but they kick your arse during the day!”