The Santiago Marathon – which has been held in the streets of the capital of Chile since 1990 – is back after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, with a record number of registered runners.
The origins of Marathon running in Chile
The Santiago Marathon was officially held for the first time in the 1990s, but the truth is that, already in the early 20th century, various events were held in Chile, running through various streets of the country’s capital.
Since the early 1900s, a small group of athletes gathered in the Hipódromo Chile horse racetrack to participate in the first marathon to run through the streets of Santiago. On that occasion, the winner was Antonio Creuz, timing-in at 03:01:07.
During the following years, marathon running continued to be informally practiced, until, in the late 1980s, the company Química Hoechst began to professionalize marathon running. The biggest leap forward was taken in 1990, when the Santiago International Marathon was launched, an event in charge of a foundation especially created to promote this sporting event.
The following year the Santiago International Marathon became affiliated to the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, a key step in gaining the official recognition for the event as part of the international circuit, which brought athletes from around the world to the race. However, it was only in 2012 when the event finally obtained the IAAF certification and was included in the Bronze Label Road Races calendar, with the official recognition in the half-marathon and marathon categories. In 2017, the International Marathon changed its name and, to this date, it is known as the Santiago Marathon, being the second most important marathon in South America after the Bogotá Half Marathon.
The Runner Boom
Within the last 10 years, the Santiago Marathon went from an official count of 7,000 runners, to 30,000 runners in its latest edition, held in 2019. This huge increase in participation makes the Santiago Marathon a race which can compare itself, as to its attendance, to the congregations achieved in similar events held in European countries.
The large boost in registrations is a direct result of the “runner boom” which has occurred in Chile during the last decade, which, in turn, has generated a heightened interest in the media and in several brands keen in becoming a part of the event.
According to a survey conducted by Adimark in 2018, more than 700,000 Chileans over the age of 15 declared that they practiced running. Even though this number has not undergone an exponential growth, the same survey also revealed that runners are running longer distances, and that they are doing so more frequently. This clearly leads to a higher interest to participate in high-standard, large-scale events, such as marathons.
Two Years Without a Marathon
As a result of the global health emergency derived from the Coronavirus pandemic which affected the entire world, the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Santiago Marathon were suspended. However, it has already been confirmed that this year’s edition will be held on May 8, with the following distances: 10K, 21K, and 42K.
All registrations have already been sold-out, as runners have been waiting for years to be able to once again gather to run – this time, in Parque O’Higgins, in downtown Santiago –, following two years of waiting, training, and preparation.
See also: Move Check Running Contest.
A high-level of awareness exists of the fact that this marathon will be different from others. Many athletes have been preparing for a long time, but one effect of the pandemic was the impossibility to properly train. Many runners have tried to train in different ways and to prepare in the best possible manner, using various tools in order to improve their performance, such as Move Check Running, an evaluation and categorization platform for runners created by Aictive.
This year’s Marathon will be a big challenge for all running enthusiasts, in all categories, and regardless of their amateur or professional level. Despite any differences among them, we all know that all participants seek to accomplish the same objective: to cross the finish line and to beat their own personal records, topping off with the celebration of being part of Chile’s most important mass sporting event.