First Race in Guatemala

I ran a 10k race yesterday here in Xela, along with my friends Zach and Will. It was a great time, but was quite different from races I’ve run in the US. First, here’s the map (change it to satellite to really see the route):

Second, about the differences: I expected some of them, but others definitely surprised me. Maybe they shouldn’t have but they did. Here’s a list:

  • The race started 20 minutes late. This was certainly not surprising, but for some reason I was much less patient for the race start then I am for other Guatemalan patience-testers. For instance, when I’m waiting for a bus to leave I’m perfectly happy to just chill out and relax for however long it takes. We went for a warmup jog before the race was supposed to start, and then ended up standing around for a while while the Guatemalans warmed up. They were all just doing laps of Parque Central, which I thought was kind of funny. We ended up doing a few too.
  • The race was definitely short. And not just a little bit. My GPS, which admittedly has error, measured it at 8.94 kilometers. So there’s that. This happens in the states sometimes too, but the quality of the field here was so much higher than a typical US race that I expected it would be well measured.
  • The quality of the field: it’s not that Guatemala has faster runners than the US, it’s just that the only people running are those who take it seriously. So we finished solidly middle of the pack with times that would have put us towards the front in any big US race. A strange, and humbling, experience. Good to get the real perspective. I’m faster than the 95% of people who don’t run, whoop-de-doo!
  • People cheated. A lot. For some reason this surprised me. There was an out and back section where people were just turning around whenever they felt like it. Weird. There wasn’t even a cone or anything to mark the end, at least not that I could see, so maybe everybody was turning WAY early and that’s why the race was short. But some people were cutting big sections of the course off here. Towards the end of the race one guy who Zach and I had just passed suddenly appeared in front of us. He had run through a park while we stayed on the street. We passed him in the final stretch, though, so all’s well. 🙂
  • We paid 25Q (approx $3 US) in order to participate. This included water and a tech t-shirt. Why they had medium and large t-shirts for the almost exclusively (much-)smaller-than-me Guatemalans is a question that remains unanswered. I got a medium and it’s too big for me.

To sum up, it was a great experience. See splits at RunningAhead.

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