Memoirs of a Race Organiser: Paulina Pinto & Mariano López

Paulina Pinto and Mariano López are the masterminds behind Across Andes, the first ultra-cycling race in Chile. The race is a 1,100-kilometre mixed terrain voyage from Villarrica in Chile, crossing the Andes mountain range into Argentina and back. We asked Paulina and Mariano to share some of their favourite memories from the race and an insight into the race organiser experience.

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Two people riding down the mountain on their bikes


Battling Against Tiredness

Just like the riders taking part, the race organisers battle against tiredness throughout the race. From the days leading up to the event, with all the preparation and anxiety for it to begin, until the last rider reaches the finish line, it is a state of total emotion. We live in a parallel world every day of the race.

The 2019 edition was very fast, with the winning duo of Andrés Tagle and Canuto Errázuriz riding at an impressive pace, which forced us to open all the control points in record time. This pushed the organisation team to its limit throughout the first four days. We’ve never been so sleepy, staying awake with energy drinks and coffee. They were really hard but rewarding days.

A person sleeping outside of a house on the floor next to his bike with bikepacking bags on it

The Magic of Live Tracking

One of the things that surprised us was the enthusiasm of the dot watchers who followed Across Andes from the live mapping. For every town or city that the race went through, there were people with their bikes waiting for the riders, especially for Óscar Pujol from GCN who recounted his day-to-day experiences on his Instagram profile,

When the riders arrived in each town, it was like a celebration, especially in the town of Cabildo, where the fans waiting for them also accompanied them for a few kilometres on their bikes.

Two people riding a bike on a path across a mountain with two cars on it

Rider’s Confessions

Reaching each checkpoint is a small goal for each cyclist, but as they progressed, their heads would start to fill with doubts and thoughts of leaving the competition. When they arrived at the checkpoints the competitors shared their feelings with us, telling us how hard the route was and talking about the heat (which was over 35 degrees Celsius during Across Andes 2019).

It was moving to hear what a good time they had, how hard it was to endure the saddle sores and the lack of sleep or energy. We always recommend taking a short break to enjoy the checkpoint before making a decision about the rest of the race. It is exciting to then see the competitors continue their journey and finally finish the race.

Close-up of two hands with bike mitt signing a paper

Sense of Family

Unlike other races, despite being in competition with each other, friendships are formed between the riders. The constant company of those who keep the same pace, meet at checkpoints, eat together, discuss difficult areas of the route and support each other.

Sometimes being number one wasn’t important, what mattered was finishing the route and enjoying the scenery. For us, we have special memories of all the participants; each one has great stories, living the race in a different way, making us spectators of different lives at the same time, transforming us into a family.

A group of people in black and white hugging and saying hi to the camera

From Competitor to Part of the Staff

One of the most interesting moments of Across Andes 2019 was what happened to Jorge Huerta. He didn’t reach control point 1 on time and scratched from the competition. Feeling discouraged the next morning, seeing all the cyclists continuing to follow the route, Jorge decided to join the team of staff as a volunteer. Feeling part of the race again, he was a great support, until he had to return to Santiago alone from checkpoint 4.

two people riding a bike through a cobblestone street

The Winning Duo

Andrés Tagle and Canuto Errázuriz were the winners of the 2019 version of Across Andes in the duo category. They had a great race, setting an impressive pace. They were the first to pass CP1 and CP2 – in less than 21 hours; from here they took the lead and built up a big advantage.

They surprised everyone and we followed them day and night as they completed the 1,470 kilometres and 22,000 meters elevation gain in 4 days and 14 hours, sleeping only around 4 hours a night. Let’s hope they can surprise us again in the 2020 edition!

Two people racing on a bike