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The Unofficial Cancun Marathon

Posted by ToshiMoshi on Nov 25, 2007 10:48:00 PM

11/19 Monday Cloudy, humid


On my trip to Cancun with my girlfriend from 11/15~11/20, I wanted to do at least one long run. But, since no one responded to my question about where I can find a good trail in Cancun, I had to find one myself. This was on the back of my mind when I noticed the kilometer marks on the road from the airport to the hotel. When you look at the map of Canun Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera), it looks like a thin strip of land sticking out from the mainland with a bunch of hotels on it. And if you trace the road on the Hotel Zone to the mainland and back, it roughly forms a rectangle. Our hotel was close to the upper left corner of the rectangle at kilometer 2.5 and I noticed that the Westin resort was at kilometer 20, close to the lower right corner of the rectangle. A brilliant idea hit me. If I run the whole loop, that would make it pretty **** close to a marathon!


And thus began my journey to the unofficial Cancun marathon. I was very excited by the idea and I thought I was a genius. It didn't occur to me until later that the Cancun International Marathon (Maraton Int.Nocturno Cancun) had been going on for the past 20 years and a 70.3 triathlon had just taken place a week before we arrived. Nevertheless, I was scoping out the course as we rode the bus and visiting shopping malls and gift shops. By the way, the buses in Cancun were very convenient. They came frequently (every two minuets), cheap (the fee is Mex$6.50 per ride which is about US$0.65), the driver gave you back change, and they were super nice (they wait for the passengers). While on the bus, I looked for places to fuel up during the run. I didn't see parks where I could go use the restrooms and fill my water bottle, but there were OXXO, a convenient store much like 7-Eleven in the US, and hotels in case I need to go use the restroom.


The forecast said it might rain, but I figured I will get wet anyway, so I was not very concerned. I put on my running shorts, singlet, and balega socks my girlfriend gave me for my birthday and I was ready to hit the road. I kissed my girlfriend (still in bed) good-bye and asked her to meet me at Km 0 around 9:30am.


I started the run around 6:30am on 11/19 at kilometer 2.5.

I packed the following in my Nathan waist pouch:

  • 4 GUs

  • 16oz. bottle with 1 tablet of Zenergize (It's like nuun, but it's got more vitamins and stuff. I used eMpower.)

  • nikon coolpix 5200

  • Mex$50 bill (equivalent of US$5) my girlfriend sent me off with.


Just after kilometer 4. A view from the bridge after El Embarcadero.


A huge Mexican flag


Hotel Riu Palace


Hotel Riu Cancun at Km 8.5


Hooters at Km 9


CoCo Bongo across from Hooters


My first unscheduled stop at OXXO. I purchased a bottle of Powerade (600ml). I was already sweating profusely due to the humidity and already finished my water bottle.


The huge Mexican flag in the distance.


La Isla Shopping Village at Km 12.5. This shopping mall was just like mall in the US. Judy and I visited here on the 16th.


They even have Starbucks cafe. Two of them.


I look soaked because I had just sprayed myself with with a hose. There was a man watering the lawn with a hose, so I tried to ask him to spray me. But, I didn't know how to say that in Spanish, so I said "por favor, can you..." and the man just handed me the hose. Then, I remembered "por favor" means "please" not "excuse me". Oh well, I will get it right the next time.


A scheduled stop at OXXO across from Omni Hotel at Km 16.5. I purchased 2 bottles of Powerade (600ml). Each bottle was Mex$12.5 and I'm not sure how much the tax was, but now, all I had left were coins. I felt like I didn't have very much money now. But, now that I think about it, may be I had enough for another bottle.


Km 17 with a lagoon in the background. Still feeling good.


A view from the bridge that connects Hotel Zone to the mainland after Km 22.


There was a paved cycling path on the other side of the road until Km 25.


I preferred the softer trail on the other side of the road. But, some parts were rocky and hard to run. At this time, I have just passed the halfway point and I still had the energy to keep on running, except for one problem. I had to go use the restroom (No.2), but I had just passed the last hotel in Hotel Zone. Should I go back? Nah. If I really needed to, I could go in the bushes. I looked at the ditch on the side of the road continuing down to the bushes and found it filled with garbage and smelling like a sewer. I definitely didn't want to contribute to the contamination of the beautiful lagoons in Cancun, so I decided to move on.


Running down the straight road on Blvd. Luis Donaldo Colosio.


The hotels looked so small from here. I passed the last hotel an hour and half ago. I had the chance to go use the restroom at McDonald's, but I passed, thinking I was almost at the beginning of the Hotel Zone. Bad move, I didn't get to the beginning of the Hotel Zone until 45 minuets later.


I was losing my mind and directions. I was taking pictures of ants! Okay, they were so much bigger than the ones back in California. Then, I met another runner. He was an older Mexican runner and when I tried to ask him for directions, he did some kind of secret Mexican handshake for some reason. That was cool to meet a local Mexican runner, but I didn't have time for that (I really had to go number two). I asked him for the directions to the Hotel Zone. "Donde esta zone de hotels?" He looked confused and said, "Ah, Zona Hotelera! Bla bla bla bla derecho bla bla." I thought "derecho" meant "right," but I didn't see any roads going to the right. I guess I could go straight. I think he said something about the bull ring and unos kilmeters. Then, he looked at my watch and asked me how long I was running. He thought I was running for 3 minutes but I told him that's tres horas I'm running and took off. Oops. I forgot to thank him.


Plaza de Toros- the Bull ring. Less than a mile from the Km 0 where I was to meet Judy at 9:30am. It was already 10:05am. I was more than 30 minutes late and desperately in need to go use the restroom.


Km 0 at last! Boy, was I glad to see Judy. It was 10:12am and I was more than 40 minutes late. I apologized as she was very worried about me. I told her I'm in a very fragile state because I've gotta use the restroom really bad.


We ran on the paved cyclopista (cycling path, I think) from Km 0 to Km 2.5. I ran the last 2.5 Km very carefully. Ironically, I only saw one or two cyclists using the cyclopista during the entire trip.


I did it! I finished the Unofficial Cancun Marathon! And I made it to the bathroom without any accidents.



Total time: 3:52:37

Distance: 43.660 Km

Pace: 8:34min/mile


Splits (quite inaccurate)

5K 24:51

11K 57:48

15K 1:16:42

20K 1:45:21


Drinks/food ingested

1 16oz. water bottle infused with a Zenergize tablet

3 x 600ml Powerade

1 x 12oz. peach drink at Km 0 (thanks to Judy)

About 2.5 Liter total! ;-o


1 Hammergel (I didn't feel very hungry and I didn't bring any solid food)


I recreated the route at Active Trainer. But it looks like you have to have an account on Active Trainer to see the route.



1. I really should have taken advantage of the hotel zone and used the restroom at any hotel that was available. What was I thinking I could hold going to the restroom for 4 hours?

2. I should have brought more cash with me. Some OXXO in Cancun didn't accept credit card.

3. My poor nipples got chafed even though I applied Bodyglide. My shorts never got dry after I sprayed myself with a hose, but the singlet got dry for some reason. I should have put band-aid on my nipples.

4. I should have brought a cell phone for a long, self-supported runs like this.


Even with all the mistakes I've made, I enjoyed this run very much and it definitely made my stay in Cancun memorable.

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