Runology Project, Running is the Excuse

Three friends, two passions, and a clear idea: to travel and run through the most incredible and pristine places in Chile (and the world), with the purpose of combining trail running with constant amazement.

Parque Huishue, Patagonia

Parque Huishue - Photos: Runology Project / @runologyproject.


"Running is the excuse; traveling is the way" is the slogan that Runology Project has as its foundation and posts every time it uploads a photo to its Instagram account. This project was born just over three years ago, from a conversation among friends, where the idea of traveling and running took shape and made us, along with María Teresa Onetto and Soledad Hott - both Chilean runners - spend much of our vacations getting to know new destinations while running through them again.


I have been running for several years now, but in a somewhat more "competitive" mode and focusing on always being trained, for about six or seven years. With Teté, we trained on the same trail running team, and she and Sole, friends for several years, had traveled to run the Nike 21K in San Francisco. I had just returned from running 100K in three days in the USA. And to make a training session more enjoyable, we started to list races and places we would like to go running. The truth is, I always try to choose my races this way, taking advantage of the opportunity to travel and discover new destinations. The idea began to take shape, and we added a date that Sole and I had planned, in Utah, USA.


We were clear that it was something we would do with or without extra support, but in just over two weeks, we had a name for the project, two sponsors, and tickets bought for the first race. As Sole says, "When the desire, the disposition, and the idea are there, things really work out well and quickly."


Initially, the idea was to use a race as an excuse and plan a trip around it, but we realized that while races are interesting, there are incredible places that are visited less. And that's where we set our sights. So far, we have taken eleven trips, and the next one is, if all goes well, in October 2020. We have another one in November 2020 on the agenda, keeping our fingers crossed that Covid-19 will allow us to go to both.


Cochamó, Patagonia

Cochamó - Photos: Runology Project / @runologyproject.


The first trip was in December 2016 to Cochamó and Puelo, in the X Region of Chile. Our faces upon arriving at La Junta must have been recorded by a camera because we couldn't stop marveling at what we were seeing. We were totally captivated by the beauty of the place! The granite rock there, the color of the river, and the green of the forests had us completely enthralled. Later, at Lago Tagua Tagua, we stayed at Barraco Lodge, where we mixed running with learning to fly fish. And where we also had Chilean cooking classes. "The idea is not just to run; we like to learn and do other things on our trips too," says Teté, who then adds, "The project translates into discovering and exploring new places through running, without neglecting the richness that a trip brings."


The second trip was to the Lago Ranco area, where we ran through Parque Futangue and Parque Huishue, which was newly opened at that time. Many people go to Futangue and do two classic trails, but we went the other way and did a beautiful 25km trail, completely unknown. "We are showing new destinations. That is one of the values of Runology," say Sole and Teté. Then, in Huishue, everything was new, so any photo and information we shared would be welcomed.


Futangue, Patagonia

Futangue Park - Photos: Runology Project / @runologyproject.


Estancia la Cumbre, Sierra Baguales

Estancia La Cumbre, Sierra Baguales - Photos: Runology Project / @runologyproject.


In the geopaleontological park La Cumbre Baguales, we went in search of marine fossils. The only company we had that day was the guanacos that were marking our path. They are the owners of the place, as the baguales (wild horses) are more difficult to spot. We stayed at the beautiful Tierra Patagonia that night. And for the rest of the days, despite being at the entrance to Torres del Paine National Park, why run on the trails everyone goes to, when we could do it on others that are less known? We did three more remote routes in the area and stayed the other two nights at Patagonia Camp, where an afternoon of kayaking would be the perfect way to return to Santiago with a perfect trip.


In 2017, we took three more trips; two in Chile and one in the United States. In Chile, we went to Rapa Nui in September and to San Pedro de Atacama in November. In both trips, as in the 2nd and 3rd, we had the pleasant company of friends. And it's because Runology started to have many followers, and our friends are waiting for us to "launch" each trip to see which one they can join, understanding that it's not just about running; our trips are much more than that. Both places, being very touristy, became a challenge because we didn't want to go where everyone goes or do what most people do. And we succeeded!


On the island, we ran on lesser-known trails, visited caves, and climbed volcanoes with a guide, in our case the great Mea-Mea Hoao Tuki. Additionally, we went on bike rides for those who couldn't run, dove, and snorkeled. No one wanted to return to the continent after five enjoyable days! In San Pedro, we went in search of unknown hikes and lagoons, also with a local guide with whom we explored more remote places, such as the cetacean trail of Guatin or a hike to 4000 meters in Kulamar, this time surrounded by vicuñas and flamingos. We also met Alejandro Gonzalez, a craftsman from Toconao, who is sponsored by Smartrip, the travel agency we were ambassadors for.


Crossing Borders

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, USA - Photo: Runology Project / @runologyproject.


The fourth trip, in June 2017, has been our most enviable gem. It was the only trip so far abroad and was organized around a race, the Bryce100K, in Utah, USA. With this excuse, we spent fifteen days touring five of its national parks, The Mighty 5: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion. This tremendous race was the basis for an incredible adventure of kilometers and kilometers through land of large and deep canyons, lots of sandstone in different colors, excessive heat, and moving at constant altitudes. Utah is about marveling at how small we are and how incredible the land is as an organism. It's about enjoying pure geology that's accessible to everyone. It's about constantly looking back.


Utah is colors, intense red almost purple, lots of yellow, orange, and green! What tremendous sunsets, sometimes I thought it was my glasses that were adding color to the landscape, but no, they were natural colors without a filter! Utah is heat and cold, spaces full of details to look at, with rock walls with beautiful formations. I wanted to have had a macro lens to capture some textures in the photographs or a 500mm zoom to capture details that looked distant. It is also full of shapes, cliffs, and arches everywhere, with thousands of walls to climb and trails that invited us to run despite the heat. Perhaps if you stand on any trail in the world, you might think the same, that it is a spectacular place, but the truth is that Utah leaves no one indifferent.


We discovered things that are not in the classic books, like the 22 kilometers on a trail in the 10Mag area, near Arches, where many people bike but where we decided to run. Also, in Escalante, when we reached a lesser-known but equally impressive waterfall. Or in Capitol Reef, when a guide left us stranded, and in return, we found a note that indicated how to get to a Slot within the park, which we found and explored, feeling like Indiana Jones!


It was an unforgettable trip, and while we were there, we envied ourselves for the incredible experience we were having. And now, when we look at the photos, we relive every moment and enjoy it again. I transport myself and slowly a smile begins to form on my face again.


Parque Patagonia, Aysen

Fachinal glacier, Patagonia Park - Photo: Runology Project / @runologyproject.


During 2018, we only took one trip because I was in Spain doing a Master's degree. My return, in fact, was brought forward because of this trip, which was a crazy mix of emotions. We set trail running aside for a few days and went backpacking to explore the new Patagonia Park in Aysen. We covered more than 50km in 4 days between Chile Chico and Valle Chacabuco. With the help of Patagonia Huts, we went under glaciers, crossed countless rivers along the way, and played generala more times than I have played since!


2019 came with shorter trips but still beautiful and full of discovery of customs, more unknown areas of Chile, and slightly more complex group management. In Ahibueno, the area aptly called the Patagonia of the central zone, we enjoyed camping and living with two tremendous guides who showed us the way while carrying our things on horseback. The weather, as always, was on our side. As it was in Chincolco, a "lost" town in the Andes that suffers from drought. This trip was different; we split into groups, and while some walked, others ran, to then all enjoy horseback riding on the last day. Bahía Esperanza at the end of 2019 was no different, and the visit to Patagonia, once again, was a joy of colors, landscapes, and lots of laughter.


Changing Paradigms


DExperience WUD Media - Photo: Runology Project / @runologyproject.


In March 2020, we took our (so far) last trip, which we called DExperience. A different trip, where we were not going to run, but rather to allow others to enjoy crossing their limits and enjoy the nature of the Cochamó area. We returned to where we had started, but this time accompanied by 13 people with type 1 diabetes, plus two doctors in charge. It was a unique and very different experience. People who are normally told that they cannot do extreme or adventure sports due to their condition pushed their bodies and paradigms to the limit, learning that as a team and with care, everything is possible! Of course, we are already organizing the next one, for 2021, in Brazil.


Some people ask us when we will turn it into something commercial, and our answer for now is, "Not yet, we like the freedom we have on each trip to do and undo as we see fit and want." We like that friends, nature lovers, and trail runners join us, but as Teté says, "Runology sets itself apart from other projects by the way we do tourism, as we travel while doing sports, and we almost never go to the most touristy places."


If there is one thing we always agree on, it is that "Runology is a lifestyle, and we would love to infect many people with this spirit." If you don't want to miss our trips, you can follow us on Instagram (@runologyproject).


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