The rocky road to (Desafío) Ruricancho…


Good morning folks

I trust this finds you in tiptop form and that you had a mighty fine weekend.
This week the blog will be devoid of the usual weekly ramblings and ranting.


Because I just had my first race in over 9 months and scribbling this late on a Sunday night, I am a dustbin case, goosed!
In addition to this, OCD levels went into the stratosphere this week with the fact that it was my first race in over 9mths.

(Normal ranting/rambling levels will return next week).

The rocky road to Ruricancho…


Desafio = challenge.
Ruricancho = a race of people, (Pre-Hispanic) who lived above San Juan de Lurigancho. Generally short, stout and incredibly strong folk.


Runningwise, last year was a write off.
I trained my sorry ar$e off for 2.5 races on a woeful, spiralling downwards crocked-train-like-an-idiot-crocked-again cycle.
The half race being my ill-fated foray into the Andes last June for the inaugural UT69.
A DNF is never good, but you’re only as good as your last race, so until this weekend I would be classed as diabolically crap!


I have given up on nighttime running back from work; too many hidden potholes, too many punters in the street late on and too much unpredictable traffic, with 10 million road crossings to contend with. In addition, Desafio Ruricancho (DR) has a reputation of being hotter than the sun, so a switch to daytime was necessary. You can do more harm than good on the lead-up to a race (there’s a good excuse for slacking) so it was a very steady albeit sweaty week.
Plus twisting my ankle in a pothole/crater (never take your eyes off the pavement for a second here), plates-o-meat being bitten by ants and getting a cold plus exploding intestines midweek, perfect timing. (Book of excuses Vol 348…)


I ran this race last year and have recced it twice. It is a cracking route with a bit of everything.


I am often accused by Lina of being stuck in the past, I freely admit I’d very happily live in a mid-late 90′s loop, heady times. (I was looking at a pair of DM shoes for work this week and it looks like you don’t get much change from £100 these days, so that is one thing I won’t be buying, I paid £30 for my last pair, but that was in 1988!) I still remember the shock of paying more than £1 for a pint and the materialistic joy of the first time I ever earned £100 (in cash, in a brown envelope,on a Thursday. I really thought I had made it!)


Like I said, I live in the past.


When I first started running (Kentmere Pike race, cerca 1984) you rocked up to  a race, paid your quid and put 20p in an envelope for results, which you’d get about 3mths later!
You’d get changed under a tree/behind a wall and then run your race. If it was a long race, you’d get given a selection of numbered bread clips, which you’d launch at some hapless race marshall shivering on some windy summit. Simple and effective.

No t-shirt, maybe a pair of socks for the winner and a cup of tea with a bit of cake at the end.
That is what I yearn for, but I am dreaming of course. I am out of touch with reality.

Out here, race fees vary.


The problem this weekend was that a new race popped up on the calendar, the day before the established DR.
The North Face (TNF) decided to put on a string of races in nearby Pachacamac, stinging punters for up to s/390 (£85) and this obviously diluted the field.
(DR were charging around £25, which is not cheap, but you pay your money…)

Punters like goody bags. I would sooner get nothing and pay less for a race personally, but I am a Northern tightwad. In addition, you need to pick up your number the day before, so this meant a mini-adventure for the Nipper and I…



From our gaff to San Juan de Lurigancho (SJL) we can take a bus then the Electric Train.
There is a l-o-n-g story behind the train, which I won’t bore you with here, but it was 25 years in the making, staying half-built for decades, in between Alan Garcia’s presidencies.


Anyway, the Wee One loves going on the diddy steam train at the “Parque de Amistad”, so I told her we were going on a big train and she was happy.


Parts of SJL can be a bit ropey, so we went with nothing, picked up my number and bag of gubbins, then hotfooted it back home. A 2hr round trip, which would have been half-a-day on the buses.


The day before a race is always jampacked with stuff you could do without, but with a 3am alarm in mind, I was keen to get some shuteye, which is obviously impossible in my “barrio”.
The Chinese restaurant has a band on ’til around 2am and two neighbours were trying to outnoise each other.



One with bass and cowbells (Salsa) and the other with what is known as reggaeton. Now she may not have realised it at the time, but when Cher excreted “I believe” in ’98, she created a monster, I don’t know the musical term is but it’s when you put a voice through a machine and change the pitch up and down.


Reggaeton is basically some kind of garbage shat out by wannabe gangsters, wearing make-up, with distorted voices. It is musical excrement and if you saw the Stephen Hawking (RIP) tribute on “Good Morning”, out here “it’s all about the bass”. Nightclub-sized speakers!


I did get 45 mins kip before my alarm went off. I was tempted to blast out something loud but that would be stooping as low as my lowlife neighbours, so I tiptoed around the flat.

I rave about the Taxi Beat App, at least I did until this morning when there were no drivers.
Getting a Joe Baxi at 3:30am is risky on the street, especially when heading to the wild west of SJL, but I was lucky and got an old bloke called Francisco from Cusco to take me (he told me he was also a tour guide and a chef, in between 12hr taxi shifts). The streets were awash with revellers (drunks), blocks of 6am discos were blaring out reggaeton. It did all feel a bit surreal.

We had been told that the “Hora de concentracion” was at 4am, with the bus leaving at 5am prompt and the start at 6am. So of course Muggings was there at 4am, only to wait for the stragglers arriving at 5:20am. Time is just a number out here.

We did eventually arrive to our drop-off at “Villa Jicamarca”, it was still pitch black.

The start is high up in the hills. SJL is the biggest district in Lima with over a million inhabitants, but this place in the ar$e end of nowhere, is in the next district.
I think it is the poorest place I have seen in Peru and indeed, in this unfair World. People live in tin shacks, with no light nor drains, it must be a desperately hard living.



Desafio Ruricancho – Just short of 23 miles and just short of 9000ft of climbing. A stiff morning out…


Anyroad, at 6am we were OFF, into the inky blackness and up towards “Cerro Colorado”. The first part of the race was a new route, with some very technical stuff (ideal for nimble runners with tiny feet, absolutely disastrous for a clumsy clown-foot like me), then some amazing singletrack running. I was really feeling absolutely shot-to-pieces from lack of sleep and you really have to watch this ground like a hawk.

No map reading out here, the route was clearly marked with green (or yellow) arrows all the way, being sponsored by a paint company.


A few spots of early doors rain were welcome, but I didn’t see a single blade of grass on the whole route.
It is a great race, but like running through a quarry/landfill site, on the moon, inside an oven!

By 10am it was proper cracking flags. The temperature got up to 98°f and the “suncream” I had bought must have been mislabelled, as I think it was actually toothpaste. I had a very fetching, crimson red vest tan by noon!

The race doesn’t have many flat bits. It is an undulating switchback from start to finish.
It passes through a string of high-level “pueblos jovenes” (young villages) which have popped up in recent years. Lima has a population of 11 million frantic punters, but there is no space for 11 million people, so newcomers had to take to the hills.


There is a cool VIDEO of a Mountain Bike race in Valparaiso, Chile, which is what it felt a bit like at times en-route. (Passing by a wretched, stinking chicken farm made me think about going veggie!)

There is a growing trend for runners to use poles (lightweight folding walking sticks).
I ran a 100 miles race (once) in 2009 and a lad I was running with used them. My shins felt like kebabs after 24hrs of being bashed about by them.

I was running on and off with a lad using poles and from behind, they sound like knitting needles, you have to get a wriggle on for fear of being made into a cardigan or something!


I was sweating cobs in shorts and vest, but there were loads of people in leggings, gloves, long-sleeve tops, jackets and hats. Each to their own.


4hrs in, around 10am, it suddenly felt like somebody had turned the heat up. I had 2 litres of fluids and there were 5 drinks stations, but I was still mega-dehydrated by the end. I had saved a chewy bar (one thing that is hard to get hold of out here), which churned up my already bad guts immediately. Check the date next time boyo!


I had arranged to go out for a curry at 2pm and had planned this around my finish time last year, but was not aware that it was actually 4 miles further this year, so my timing went to pot.
Around 7 miles to go, you get a glimpse of the finish, but it is misleadingly foreshortened.

What kind of sadistic race organiser gives a race an uphill finish?
This one!


The finish line is on top of “Cerro San Cristobal”, a diminutive (when compared to its loftier neighbours) peak overlooking the centre of Lima. One last push and it was done.
6.5 hours and I was well late for lunch!


I have a problem with my ears and after a race, I can’t hear/speak very well (in English, so in my dodgy Spanish even worse) and of course the whole world was atop Cerro San Cristobal, so I probably made less sense than normal to people!

Result: Mid-table obscurity!
Maybe, possibly a prize for V45?
Had to dash off straight after finishing.

A very confused taxi driver kindly took me to the curry house, after a mototaxi had crashed into us as he reversed the wrong way up a one-way street!


Next race, 4 weeks away, leg I of Desafio Huarochiri, plenty of work to do aforehand.

Raiders Round-up.


The mighty Shipbuilders faced ex-Challenge Cup winners, Sheffield Eagles in the 4th round of the cup.

A cracking 28:16 victory sees them into the next round.

29261925_1049791738516488_7593358005865807872_nDebut try for Superleague signing, Gene Ormsby!

Onwards and upwards :-)

And finally…

Never give up, ever!


Back to normal next week.
Have an outstanding week!

Johnny, Lina & the Nipper






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