Trail or Mountain running is taking a strong hold in the Cordillera Blanca (Huascaran National Park) just outside of Huaraz. In the Southern Cordillera Blanca, the pristine Valleys (Quebradas) and farmlands lend themselves to hours of runs/hikes where one can enjoy the impressive terrain and views without the influence of the bustling city of Huaraz. In addition to training and casual runs there are organized runs from 10 km to 80 km throughout the year.
High Elevation Acclimatization for Runners
Everyone acclimatizes differently at high elevation. This means that the runs you undertake will feel harder than at lower altitude and your body will need some time to adjust. While your body adjusts to running at such high elevations, we recommend hiking the uphill sections, especially with more technical terrain such as large rocks and steps, and running the flat and downhill sections. “Run when you can, hike when you can’t”. Slow and steady is the mantra for running here.
Light weight running packs are ideal for this style of running. Choose one that allows for a water bladder, extra layer of light clothes, water bottles, first aid kit, flashlight and snacks. Running shoes should have a sole that works well with rocky, off-camber terrain for running both up and down hills.
Running in Huascaran National Park, from The Lazy Dog Inn
The Lazy Dog Inn is located at 3650 meters in the Cordillera Blancas, next to Huascaran National Park and only 8 km from Huaraz, set amongst traditional indigenous communities. Besides being a runner’s paradise, the Inn offer’s bright, and cozy rooms in adobe structures. Fresh, clean food, featuring produce from our greenhouses and gardens, provides the base of healthy and nutritious meals to fuel you for your runs. Our complimentary sauna is a perfect way to help those tired muscles at the end of your day of adventuring. Some examples of runs with quick access from the mountain lodge are:
Llaca Lake at 4474 meters is situated at the end of the valley and is approx. 24 km in and out with an altitude gain of 824 meters from the Lazy Dog Inn. The route starts at 3650 meters from our front door and uses rocky trails, valleys and a country road. The valley offers panoramic views of three massive glaciers ranging from 18,000 to 20,000 feet. Upon arrival to the lake you can get up close and personal to the glaciers, hearing them move and you may even catch a small glacial event if you are lucky.
The Palcacocha Lake at 4566 meters is situated at the end of the Cojup valley and is approx. 26 km in and out with an altitude gain of 575 meters from the trail head which sits at 3900 meters. The trail head is 5 km from The Lazy Dog inn and is reached by a country road or by foot if you would like a longer run. The end of the valley is marked by Palcacocha lake, a crystalline lake with massive glaciers precariously hanging above it.
Quilcayhuanca / Cayesh Valley
Trail head is 10 km from the Lazy Dog Inn, which can be reached by foot on a rarely used country road or by vehicle. The long valley follows the Quilcayhuanca River and is known for its pre-Incan pictographs near the park entrance. At 4,040 meters you reach a split in the trail, to the east is Laguna Cayesh (4,500 meters) or stay to the NE Laguna Tullpacocha 4,300 (18 km from park entrance) or continue even higher to the Laguna Cuchilla 4,630 (this would be a very long day). This area has turquoise blue lakes with massive glaciers with pre-Incan rest huts, settled by the local cows. The Cayesh Valley has remnants of the old Incan trail, where the ancients would take their herds over the pass to graze for part of the year.
The Aguak trailhead is located 6 km from the lodge and is part of Huascaran National Park, the payoff is a peaceful lake with great views of the Cordillera Blanca. An added bonus is the adjacent ruins Wilcahuain that you can explore on your way up or down. The round-trip run is 24 km or you can take a taxi to the trailhead making it a 18 km run.
Organized Running Races around Huaraz & The Cordillera Blanca
- Huaraz Puka Trail : Huaraz Feb 2, 12/21 km distances
- Sierra Andina Chavin Trail : Olleros to Chavin Archeological Site June 1, 45 km distances
- Festival de Andinismo : Huaraz Ultra Trail Cordillera Blanca June 30, 50/25/12 km distances
- Sierra Andina Mountain Trail : The 45 km uses the Santa Cruz Trail August 9/10, 13/30/45/80 km distances
- Llanganuco Mountain Trail : July 20, 13/30/50 km distances
- Marcahuasi Ultra Trail Sept 28/29, 90/60/40/30 k distances Night run 16/10 km distances