30 years ago, a tradition started: the Chirripo Challenge race. Andrea Sanabria was the first indigenous person to participate and win the 34 kilometer competition up the country’s highest mountain.
This year’s race took place on February 23. The ending was filmed by a group of documentary filmmakers. Sanabria has been the champion of this extreme race an impressive nine times, including this year.
200 runners risked the uphill run. Many hurt their knees or ankles along the way. This high impact race is demanding. There are often falls as people walk the route nevermind run it.
Runners are disqualified if they don’t make it to the 12 kilometer point in three hours and fourteen minutes. The heat, 30 degrees Celsius, takes some out of the running. At the top there is a hostel. It’s 3,400 meters above sea level.
Sanabria comes from a small indigenous town, a four days walk from San Gerardo. She was given tennis shoes by neighbors. At home she trains in rubber boots with her husband. They have five children to care for. The prize money for the race is about what they would earn in a whole year picking coffee. This year, her niece also ran. They tied for first with a time of four hours and sixteen minutes.