EASTER ISLAND RAPA NUI MARATHON RACE REPORT
JUNE 2, 2019
You may have heard of this island if you’re a fan of Ancient Aliens or watch National Geographic documentaries. It’s the mysterious land of stone heads positioned all over the island and where civilization disappeared without explanation. I’ve been intrigued by this island for years and knew I had to run a marathon on it one day. So I did! On June 2, I ran from one end of the island to the other to raise money for Seeds of Literacy in Cleveland, Ohio!
Island Facts -
Those head statues are called Moai and there are almost 900 of them on the island, the average statue weighs about 14 tons. This tiny island is only 15 miles long and 7 miles wide with a population of 4,000. Most live in the main city of Hanga Roa. Easter Island is Chile’s only Polynesian possession over 2,000 miles from the coast and became a territory in 1888.
The flight from Santiago is approximately 6 hours and flown on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. How can a plane that big land on this island? Isn’t the airport small? Yes, it is but NASA extended the only runway on the island in 1985 to 11,055 feet. This was required for the space shuttle to land and for its eventual piggy-back retrieval by a Boeing 747. Now that there is a long runway, big planes can land but only Latham Airlines flies there - once a week from Tahiti and daily from Santiago.
The Easter Island Marathon aka Rapu Nui Marathon took place on Easter Island June 2. This was one of the most exciting locations I have ever run. The history, mystique and beauty of the island made this unique destination marathon well worth the journey to the most remote inhibited island in the world in the South Pacific.
The Blessing Ceremony
We gathered outside the community center for a special occasion prior to the race. We were not told what to expect - to our surprise a ceremonial blessing was bestowed upon the athletes which included ritualist prayer, dance and sharing a chicken that was passed around the group.
**Those of us who are plant based ate a carrot and enjoyed the view :)
The Race Experience
Excerpt from my interview with Henry Howard last month “Flying through a World Challenge with MTA”
The course took runners from one side of the island to the other. Of the 250 total runners —5K, 10K and half marathon options were offered — 87 did the full marathon. There were plenty of surprises, too.
“The free-roaming horses, cows, island dogs and the sparkling blue South Pacific Ocean along with the Moai statues made this experience unforgettable,” she says. “A surprising event at the award ceremony was placing third in my age group. That was a podium first for me!” - Courtney Schoch
The weather on race day was sunny and a comfortable 72F with a light breeze. The course was advertised as being mostly flat with a few rolling hills - that was not the case at all. There was a near constant incline for over 10 miles with a sharp decent to the beach turnaround point. I thought about quitting when the half marathoners reached their turn around point and headed back. It took a lot of self talk but determination persevered and I continued on.
The race coordinator did an excellent job providing aid stations every 5 kilometers that were stocked with water and energy gel. At mile 12 a group from Taiwan passed by me and offered up a banana. That was the only food option until the end the finish line. The food at the finish line - bananas. There may not have been a lot of food option but the energy was high and supportive.
3rd Place for my age group - I have never made the podium so this was exciting for me and unexpected!
GEAR & CLOTHING
Shoes - Alta Lone Peak 4.0 - Alta is my go to shoe for races. The roomy toe box makes a huge difference. An added bonus - they are vegan friendly so not only can I run in comfort but also support the vegan community.
Socks - Injinji Toe Socks - Zero blisters and they never slide around - I prefer the lightweight toe socks for summer running.
Capris - UnderArmour - This was my first time wearing capris for a marathon and they performed well. They did not bunch or slide down. They fit just right and provided excellent protection from the South Pacific sun.
Shirt - Short Sleeve UA V Neck UnderArmour - Breathable, light weight and silky smooth
Sports bra - Moving Comfort - A spots bra makes or breaks a run - especially for extra curvy ladies. It’s supportive, comfortable and minimizes movement - This gets an A+ from me.
Hat - Outdoor Research Sun Running Hat - I wore this hat for the Mojave Desert to keep warm in the 100 degree plus desert heat. The side panels are removal so the hat is compatible for any kind of run. It’s breathable and lightweight and does not fade and keeps its shape if thrown into the washing machine.
Hydration Vest - Ultimate Direction - Drop bag locations were not provided so it was up to runners to carry their nutrition. I was able to carry extra sunscreen, my phone and nutrition in this vest. The water bladder was not necessary because of the frequency of aid stations so it was removed prior to the race freeing up room and weight. I prefer to keep my hands free and a hydration belt starts to annoy me around mile 7. A vest offered the perfect solution!
NUTRITION (no caffeine please)
Spring Energy - This was the first time I used Spring for a marathon. They taste great and provide clean energy without the stomach upset other brands give me. The only flavor I was unable to tolerate was ginger but luckily I figured this out on a long run prior to Easter Island.
Nuun - The best electrolyte replacement for me. I’ve used Nuun on every race and most training runs. The berry flavors are awesome!