Sunday, April 22, 2012

Where to run in Mexico: Bosque Del Tlapan

Unmarked, but easy to find are short singletrack paths like this one that link up the more prominent routes. 

  If you find yourself in Mexico City, where are the best places to train and run?  While the best training ground is undoubtedly Desierto De Los Leones (which is neither a desert, nor are there lions...story for another day), Desierto is a bit of a drive (an hour each way during the week unless you leave at 4:30-5:00 am) and technically it's not even in the city.  I'll feature Desierto in the future, but for now I'd like to focus on what I think is the best place to run in Mexico City: Bosque Del Tlapan.  If you know of another place to run that offers more than Bosque, please let me know, as I'd love to check it out.
  Bosque, located in the south of the city near the upscale Parques del Pedregal and Bosques del Pedragal neighborhood offers a lot:

•It has something for every runner.  Pavement, smooth two tracks, steep and relatively longish climbs, technical trail and even a tree-lined dirt track.

•Many people run here on the weekends, so there are lots of places to eat, order a fresh squeezed juice, buy some shoes or other running gear, or meet other runners.

•If you just want to be alone and run in the woods while seeing very few people, it has that too.

•It's easy to get to.  Take the Metrobus that runs north and south on Insurgentes (the primary north/south avenue in the city) to the Villa Olimpica station.  Get out, go south towards the modernesque Elektra buildings (one has a Banco Azteca sign) and take your first right on Camino Santa Theresa.  There is a Mercado on the corner dedicated to carpentry (a good place to buy furniture or have furniture made for you at a reasonable price), turn before you pass the mercado.

The "Hamster Wheel."  Most runners don't see much more of the park than this.  As dirt tracks go it's tree-lined and has a decent climb.  Not a bad place to finish off your run if you come down the hill slightly short on mileage but don't want to make the trek back up.  It's a 886 meter loop.  Guess they couldn't squeeze those extra meters in to round of the kilometer...
Here's the "map."  Better to just explore.  The park closes at 5:00pm.

  There is a "map" of the trails (see above) but the best way to discover the place is to explore on your own.  It's a big park, but it's not that big.  You can't really get lost (for long).  Just go down and you will end up back at the entrance.  What follows are some photos of one of my favorite routes which will also provide an idea about the variety of terrain the park offers.

One of the many climbs: This one is rocky but with great traction.

Many of the trails are wooded.  All of them are hilly.

The photo doesn't quite do justice to the grade of this incline.  This is on the way up to the top.  The rock is volcanic rock that is everywhere in this part of the city.

Lizard Alley.  Lizards scurry across the path every time I run through here. My favorite trail in the park.
In conclusion: Bosque del Tlapan is a great place to get a long run in.  I came out here today to do 30K, and although I did repeat some sections, it never got boring, and I was able to get in a decent amount of vertical (2,146 according to my Garmin) in that distance.  According to Garmin the elevation starts at 7,589 and tops off at 8,133.  Here's a link to my painfully slow run:  At least I got the miles in.  The vertical was only about 500 feet short of the 2,753 I climbed last Sunday in the race up to Nevado de Toluca, so the potential is there to get some vertical without traveling outside of the city.  Note: my Garmin's readings tend to be less than published elevations, so keep that in mind.

One can't go too far in Mexico without encountering the image of the Virgen of Guadalupe.  This one is hidden in the woods alongside one of the more remote trails.

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