Oaxaca city, at the crossing of 3 valleys, is a flat city surrounded by high mountains. At 1500m (5000ft) above sea level, it might not be the best place to try to beat your personal best but you will surely live a race here as never before. Of course, we recommend you see the city on one of our guided running tours, but if you’re feeling competitive, read on to discover the best of Oaxaca running races.
First, in town, running is popular so nearly every Sunday there is a 5k or 10k race that is organized downtown. With low fees (under $10 USD) including T-shirt and medal, you will run in a very friendly ambiance along with the colonial buildings in the streets of this UNESCO World Heritage downtown.
For longer distances, unfortunately, the options are not so numerous and only 3 or 4 half marathons are being organized. We are still hoping for a marathon, but the city is not so big, so closing the streets for a marathon would mean shutting down the entire city.
Then, if you want to really feel the spirit of Oaxaca and enter the core of its cultural patchwork and richness, you will have to leave the capital city and its paved street to challenge you in one of the most beautiful but hardest Trails Races that exist. Usually organized in small and traditional villages, you will be received as a special guest by the whole community, hosted in people houses, sharing their delicious traditional food and the mezcal will always be here to comfort your spirit after the effort.
The logistics for these Oaxaca running races can be, at times, a bit complicated from abroad so don’t hesitate to contact our local guide Pascal who already participated in all these races and will be glad to help you.
Main Oaxaca Running Races
Date: March 15th, 2020
Distance: 10 km and 21.1 km
The route goes through the main streets of Oaxaca at night so you can enjoy the historic buildings under the lights and listen to the bands that are playing live all along. You finish in the city stadium where a big concert is taking place, 100% Rock’n’Roll!
People from all over Mexico come to participate in this main event, usually spending a few days around to visit the city. That´s the biggest of Oaxaca running races for local runners!
Main Oaxaca Trail Running Races
Date: March 1st, 2020
Distance: 15km (+ 800m) | 30km (+2 000m) | 50km (+3 950m) | 100km (+6 200m)
In the middle of the “land of the never conquered”, the village of Totontepec welcome any adventurous runner as part of its own Mixe community. As soon as you arrive you will understand easily why any Conquistador ever conquered this region naturally protected by steep mountains and profound canyons. The stunning landscapes will shake your legs, I mean literally, after you will try the first super steep downhills. Don’t trust locals when they tell you just have a small hill to climb before finishing, there are no such “small” hills here, only big and steep ones.
The counterpart of this harsh topography is the kindness of the whole community who is very welcoming, and offer their house to host all the runners, the food is awesome and friendly offered as a present when you arrive. In only two editions, the Ultra-Trail Sierra Mixe has become part of the “must-run” trail in Oaxaca running races.
Date: May, 2020
Distance: 12km (+600m) | 30km (+2 110m) or more? | 72km (+4 490m) or more?
Surely the most iconic trail in Oaxaca, organized in the scenic village of San Agustin Etla. A nice example of what sport can make to gather people when a few years ago some crazy and talented runners started the running group of “Los Carroñeros” (the Scavengers) and nowadays there is always, at least, one Carroñero/a on every podium in local races in Oaxaca. Of course, those big-hearted runners wanted to share their training playground in the middle of their amazing mountains so they decided to organize a trail under the motto “Nobody told you it would be easy”! Years after years the local race has become more and more famous and is now internationally recognized by the ITRA giving points to the UTMB.
The climbs are tough, downhills will burn your legs and you will not find flat parts to relieve, everyone knows it but still, you will complain about it mid-race. Hopefully, the supply points are full of food and even sometimes cold beer to help you continue, but don´t stop for too long as this race is famous for having very strict time limits so few people actually finish the longest distance. Talking about the longest distance, these ones are getting longer every year, so maybe in 2020, we will have a 100 km to run?
Date: June 9th, 2019
Distance: Kids |12km | 30km
If you’re venturing out for the trail-based Oaxaca running races, one of the most famous trails in México is Trail de la Mixteca. This is for 2 reasons: First, it´s organized by the super champions Ricardo Mejía aka “El Rey de la Montaña”, 2006 world champion and still winning all his races in the Master category. The second reason that attracts all the best Mexican elite runners is that the man and woman coming in first gets a ticket to participate in the Swiss Sierre-Zinal world-class race.
Thanks to the incredibly friendly ambiance of the village of San Mateo Tlapiltepec, this trail is now the meeting point of the whole Mexican trail running community sharing amazing landscapes and good moments for a weekend.
Date: August 18th, 2019
Distance: Kids |15km | 25km
San Pablo Güila is a great example of a proud and open Zapotek community. In this village, the official language is still the native Zapotek and people are very willing to share their culture with you. One of the best ways they found is to guide you through the trails in the mountains surrounding this peaceful village, place of several trail runner champions. Landscapes are breathtaking and you will pass by some sacred places where the shamans still organize their traditional ceremonies.
Tepeztate is the name of the local agave that gives the tastiest mezcal, so you won´t leave the place without tasting a bit, would you?
Date: All year round
Distance: from 5 km to 200 miles …
All year round the local Salomon store organizes different kind of adventure races: trail running, vertical kilometer, ultra-trail, mountain bike race, ultra-duathlon, mountain triathlon… The name of “adventure races” applies perfectly to these ones as the fees are low and so is the presence of the organization. That means you usually need your own staff or get your own supply to enjoy these defying routes.
The most iconic of Oaxaca running races must be the UTB – Ultra Trail Bike, a 3 days duathlon from Oaxaca City to the coast, 100km running in 3 stages and 260km mountain biking in 4 stages. More than a race it’s a life experience that will bring you beyond your limits, that’s why companionship is more important than competition and you usually finish the race with some less kilograms but with a few more friends. Furthermore, it’s a chance to finish this incredible route where you will encounter every kind of weather from cold high-mountains (over 3000m) to tropical heat on the beach.
For more information on running in Oaxaca, check out our complete guide here.