Monday, May 25, 2009

Running in Santiago de Chile

Hola! (Doing my best to assimilate).

As you may remember from an earlier post, I am on a school-work type thing in Santiago de Chile. In short, companies around the world hire Berkeley MBA students every year to consult on a variety of projects. Right now, we have people in places like Laos, Liberia, South Africa, Finland, Easter Island, Zambia,...., and, of course, here in Santiago. (If you want to read more, check out our class blog or this Wall Street Journal article).

On to the actual blog post. Anticipating this trip, I was very unsure of how much I would get to run down here. Unfamiliarity with South America in general and Santiago in particular fueled my concerns of potentially not being able to get in any miles (or very few). Fortunately, that has turned out to be not the case. There are several things I learned though.

No Runners
I have been here four full days now and live in a very busy neighborhood, however runners are basically non-existent (I can count the total number I have seen in four days on one hand...try that in any US city). People look at you like an alien when you're running. I have even had some schoolgirls mimic my running and giggle... None of that will stop me, of course.

Smog The air in this place is POLLUTED. There are no ifs and buts about it. Frankly, I have never seen anything like it. L.A. (which has the worst air pollution in the U.S.) is child's play compared to what's going on here. The smog has definitely caused me to slow down a bit, but it ain't gonna stop this runner.
This is a sunny day. I wish I were kidding.

Safety Not an issue. Whatsoever. I know plenty of US cities that are less safe to run in (comparing downtown areas). Atlanta is one of them.


In a city of seven million, there are an estimated one million stray dogs roaming the streets. For the most part, I have found them to be friendly (i.e. they won't attack, chase or bark). There was one exception, but I was crossing a construction site that probably wasn't supposed to be crossed. There, I had a couple of mean-looking doggies bark at me from about 100 yards. I yelled back, picked up a rock and got the heck out of there. Fortunately, they didn't follow.

Trails I have found trails! They are right near downtown, and I enjoyed some wonderful miles on them on Sunday. Of course, it's winter here, so it's still dark until I leave for work and dark when I get home. I won't be running them in the dark, since there are, well, no trail maps.

All in all, I am very happy that I get to run here, while my mileage will probably be moderate at best. That's better than no miles at all!

P.s. I have a very cool interview in store for you. Check back in a couple of days.


David Ray said...

Good to get an update. Sounds like a great trip so far. Do not like the smog, though.

Always Running said...

thanks for the info! I am concerned about my ability to run (safely) in Santiago during a long trip I will be taking there later this year. If you have any maps/running routes I would it if you could share them. thanks!

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

@AlwaysRunning - Do not be concerned. You will definitely be safe running there. I'd say that 75% of the runners that I have seen now are women running by themselves. e-mail me and I'd be happy to share with you some areas that I have explored by foot.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Whoa, that smog looks formidable.

Making schoolgirls giggle. I told you to stay out of trouble down there!

saramata said...

HI! Santiago is my city town and the reason you don't see people running on the roads is because they run inside public parks, it's a common thing to do there, but when the weather gets better you see more people on the roads. It's true that everybody look at you like you are crazy!! but now they are getting more used to it. My husband is American and we both enjoy running in La Reina neighborhood, exploring and discovering new places but yes, always with a rock in our hands because you never know if dogs will be always friendly! :O) If you want to contact a Runner Club located in Las Condes, check their website at:
Don't be afraid of dogs or dark places but be careful like in every other place in the world!! Never give up!! Keep on going with your training and enjoy my city that I miss and love very much!

Pablo said...

Hi, I found your blog looking for info about trail running in Stgo. I'm from Chile but have been living in the States for almost 4 years now, currently in Minneapolis and returning next year. Your description is exactly what happens in the winter, lots of smog and nobody on the streets. But the rest of the year there are lots of people out there and even more, there are several ultratrail races which I'm planning to run once there.
Good luck.