Now, 4 days after Sundays Ultramaraton de Cuenca, I ask myself: Why? Why did I stop this race?

Since crewing for my friend Simone at the Passatore 100k in Italy I was charmed by the distance. The race in Cuenca, in the south of Ecuador, was basically “on the way” coming from the Galapagos Islands heading for my next target in Colombia. I found the race in the internet and thought about it for two or three days. 100 kilometers on the road is special. Very special.

I love point-to-point races and I love low-key organizations. This race had everything that makes running special. The organization team did an extremely well job setting up a race like this. To offer a race free of any charge together with free accommodation is more than respectable. Thinking about the love, dedication and time Leonardo Morales and his small team put in this race makes me even more annoyed with myself and desperate to go back and running this race again. I should have thought exactly about that when I retired from the race at the 60-kilometer mark.

It started off early when two buses gathered all participants at the “Coliseo Mayor de Deportes” and brought us to Biblian, just outside of Cuenca. It was cold and it already started to drizzle. The weather looked good for running. Police closed the road for a minute and Leonardo started the race with a simple ”Go”. Off we went in the night and the cold. The feelings I had on the first kilometers where just incredible. To run at the time of the day on such roads into the morning light is remarkable.

After a couple of minutes I formed a good partnership with a small police guy. We trailed along the roads, passed flashy parties and drunken people walking home from the nightclubs. We left towns. We entered towns. Cars passed us and the simple style aid stations (A car, A person, Water in bags…) popped up out of nowhere. Truly magical. Really special.

After a bit I lost the police guy and continued with my “self-protective” tactic. I tried to slow down when I felt good and was always (positive…) surprised when I saw my splits. It all felt so easy. I walked an aid station to reload me with heaps of coke and water. Still I did not find any gels so I tried to get at least a bit of sugar in.

A bigger group caught me and I decided to stay with those guys and trail along in the back of the pack. After a while the group split up and I saw myself running on my own again. As I passed one of the several crews (basically every runner had a car with friends following) they told me that I was in fourth place. Minutes later, running through a traffic jam, I passed the winner from last year. I was surprised. What am I doing up there?

I went on and minutes later some motorbike came up beside me and told me that I was in 3rd with 3 minutes to the guy in 2nd. Finally at this stage I should have stepped back and question what I was actually doing. I still felt strong, I still felt relaxed. I was too convinced. Rookie!

When the first bad patch of the race came around I did not respond to it. One car of the organizers came up to offer me drinks and food. I took the backseat.

Now 4 days after the run, still with extremely beat-up legs, I have to learn from that race. Can you run a race like this with no long runs on asphalt? Can you run a race like this with flats? Can you run a race like this without gels? Can you run a race like this in 2.500 meter altitude? I think you can!

The “race smarter list” for the “Big C” now has lot of points!