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EXOTIC DESTINATION RACE: The Easter Island Marathon

How remote can you get? Try the middle of the South Pacific.

Where: Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile

Date: June 6, 2010

Categories: 10K, half-marathon, marathon, plus a sprint distance triathlon and mountain bike race in the days before the running events

Contact: Rodrigo Salas

Website: www.olimpo.cl

Email: rodrigo@olimpo.cl

Walter Ewing stood on a rocky shore in the middle of the South Pacific, closed his eyes and tossed his mother’s wedding ring into the crashing waves. She had died just a year earlier and it had long been her dream to visit Easter Island. Now, the retired doctor from Orillia, Ont. had made her dream come true. “She would have got a chuckle from it,” he told me the next day after completing the half-marathon on Easter Island as one of 32 Canadian members of Team Diabetes.

Those competing in the ninth edition of the marathon on June 6, 2010, will follow the words of race organizer Rodrigo Salas: “The problems, we left them behind.” The Easter Island Marathon is the world’s most remote. The island is 2,100 kilometres east of Pitcairn Island and 3,500 kilometres west of Santiago, Chile, putting it further away from another inhabited island than any other on Earth. Like other islands that find themselves bathed in sunshine and immune to the hectic pace of big cities, things among the 3,700 inhabitants get done on “island time.”

The Easter Island Marathon charts a remote route past the island’s three dormant volcanoes. After a loop of the only town on the island, Hanga Roa, racers start a gradual 15K climb to 225 metres above sea level before a quick 4K plunge to the turnaround point. The halfway mark skirts past Anakena Beach, where runners can catch some inspiration from the famous Moai stone head monoliths before the return to Hanga Roa.

The weather on Easter Island is unpredictable in June. The 2009 run featured a combination of heavy trade winds, bursts of rain and searing sunshine. Flights to Easter Island are only available through Santiago, Chile or Papeete, Tahiti, and are scheduled just a few days a week. Due to limited access to accommodations on the island, the races are limited to 180 participants. With medals given out to the top three finishers in a wide variety of age groups, there’s a good chance you could find yourself on the podium. Sixty-one racers started the 2009 Easter Island Marathon, the majority of them from Team Diabetes and Marathon Tours.

Buzz Bishop is a Vancouver writer and broadcaster.