Three-time champion Fernando “Dory” Mejía González is set to defend his title in the field of 500 scrappy runners lined up to tackle Ajijic’s grueling 13.8-kilometer Chupinaya mountain race on Sunday, July 15.
Recognized as a pioneer event for Mexico’s increasingly popular mountain racing circuit, and one of the most daunting contests of its kind on the world map, the “For Savages Only” route begins at the village plaza, 10 a.m., taking competitors over rough terrain to the summit of the Cerro La Chupinaya 2,400 meters (7,875 feet) above sea level, and back to the starting point.
Last year Mejía sliced six minutes off his 2016 mark and set a new record for Mexican runners with a time of one hour, 18 minutes, 24 seconds. He fell just short of all-time record-holder Joe Gray, who scorched earth at 1:16:44, competing with Team USA in 2011 when the Chupinaya was selected as venue for the North American Central American Caribbean Mountain Championship.
Labeled as the Queen of the West mountain run, La Chupinaya also encompasses the kinder/gentler 6.5-kilometer recreational course, kicking off at 10:15 a.m. with 200 runners, joggers and hikers heading for the hills to the turn-around point at El Pandito, about half way up the long route. Lead runners in the shorter leg are expected to cross the finish line around a half hour after the start.
Spectators can cheer on the runners as they navigate Ajijic’s cobblestone streets along Guadalupe Victoria and Encarnación Rosas, the rocky pathway to the Tepalo waterfalls, or in the vicinity of the start-finish line on the north side of the plaza.