Honduran Runner’s High

Pros of Running in Tegucigalpa:

  • Being able to run

Cons of Running in Tegucigalpa:

  • Hills
  • Altitude
  • More hills
  • Psycho drivers
  • Everything else

I’m not sure which I hate more: hills or altitude. Either way, though, the pros will always outweigh the cons for me. More than the violence, language barrier, or mosquito-borne illnesses, my biggest fear pre-move was not being able to run here. We’re trapped fairly restricted in terms of movement around the city, so the long, aimless runs I’m accustomed to are definitely out of the question. And yet, I’m gratefully lacing up my shoes way more often than expected.

The running culture here has been a pleasant surprise. Apparently Tegucigalpa has warmed up to exercise recently, particularly running. Villa Olimpica, the city’s Olympic training complex, has a beautiful track available for free public use, where you’ll always find at least a few dozen people running laps. This place has been my running salvation here (in stark contrast to a number of torturous hill runs closer to our home.)

Villa Olimpica, I love you. (Image via buenasnoticias.hn)

Races are also de moda here. We got our first taste two weeks ago during a 10k hosted by the local Rotaract club. The “Green Run” was as much of a production as any race I’ve run stateside, if not bigger. More than a thousand participants gathered in the parking lot of TGI Fridays (where are we, again?) at a sacrilegious hour on Saturday morning. While J, his next-in-line M, and I huddled inside the avoid the cold sub-70 degree temperature, the Hondurans went wild. Forget stretching or jogging to warm up! Hondurans prefer doing Richard Simmons’ style jazzercise en masse. What you can’t see in the picture below is the full concert-size stage crowded with overzealous aerobics instructors leading the crowd.

Pre-race entertainment. (Image by Club Rotaract Kaputzihil)

Watching the pre-race antics was far more enjoyable than the actual running. Apparently someone here doesn’t understand (or gives zero you-know-whats about) hills. Had the route been reversed, we would have been in for a pleasant race. As it stood, we spent maybe 4.5 of the 6 miles trudging uphill, culminating in what can only be described as the Mt. Everest of Teguc. I spent a solid 10 minutes repeating encouragement to myself along the lines of “you never, ever have to do this again.” Then the run was over, another parking lot dance party ensued, and I was eagerly anticipating the next race.

All whining aside, the race was amazingly orchestrated. The roads were closed (a miracle in this city), armed guards lined the course every quarter mile or so, and there were more water stops on the 10k course than in our last half marathon. All that for a mere 180 lempiras (less than 9 bucks). Maybe I should add the cost to the pro list…

Despite the hills, altitude, and associated misery, I am just so thankful to have the ability to run through it, in every sense. That Honduran runner’s high, you can’t beat it. 


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