While some of us might congratulate ourselves for having jogged in the park over the weekend, ultrarunners Sergio Vidal and Sergio Fonseca figured two days should be all they needed to hoof it from Mascota to Puerto Vallarta, a distance of 97.7 kilometers by highway.
But highways are boring, so the two Sergios mapped out their own route via beautiful, fascinating pueblitos such as Navidad and San Sebastián. They also threw in La Bufa Mountain and Lake Juanacatlán, because, Vidal told me, “they were sort of on the way.”
Their plan resulted in a final route of 150 kilometers with a difference in altitude of 3,000 meters.
What’s a good time to start a weekend run like this? The ultrarunners figured 4 a.m. would be the perfect moment, after catching a few winks in a tent in the plaza at Mascota.
“We began walking in total darkness,” says Vidal. “A Bimbo (bread) van passed us and stopped. With a smile the driver offered us a ride, which, of course, we did not accept. The sun rose and some tortilla sellers came along, again offering us a ride. We bought some of their tortillas and made ourselves tacos ...
“Much later we come to Lake Juanacatlán, where people are playing tennis. The security guard gives us a big smile and tells us about pueblos up ahead, places we know nothing about. Later we come to hill after hill where people are making charcoal. Smoke and fog and the smell of burnt wood ... They give us water because we are completely out … Totally beat and again without water, in darkness we reach the top of La Bufa, 2,411 meters above sea level. Here people give us food and make tea for us. On our way down to San Sebastián, we see deer and now we can hear music in the town ahead of us. We have completed a 71-kilometer run in 18 hours, carrying 15 kilos of gear, all on our own.”
The next morning the runners restock their provisions and carry on, but now they are entering a different climate.
Continues Vidal: “We find ourselves in the jungle. It’s a solitary route where we are overwhelmed by heat, humidity, thirst, weariness. By nightfall we have exceeded our limits and we are still kilometers from our goal, dragging our feet along a road with passing drivers waving at us. We are no longer running, but walking at three kilometers per hour, totally exhausted, but we decide we won’t stop until we’re in Puerto Vallarta, no matter what time we arrive.
“We arrive at 3:10 a.m. in silence, without celebrating. Just ‘buenas noches y felicidades’ and at last we sleep. But we did it, covering 150 kilometers on foot in 45 hours.”
Vidal and Fonseca’s effort was great preparation for the World 24-Hour Championships to be held in Irdning, Austria in July 2019. Although they will officially be representing Mexico, they could use some financial support. Any individuals or groups wanting to help should contact them through their Facebook page “Haciendo una Historia.Steve Nox Team.”
I should add that Vidal and Fonseca carried out their plans despite lurid newspaper headlines which appeared the night before they left. “Everyone was talking about security but we decided to go ahead without fear,” Vidal says. “Mexico is not these headlines in newspapers. It is its mountains and rivers. It’s a little girl playing with a fish and a ghostly figure making charcoal in the fog. Mexico is the smile of its people, its goodness and its friendliness and its willingness to work hard. And in the future Mexico will be our children and it will be those who go out and fight to show that we are much, much more.”