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A silhouette of a runner standing by a lake at sunset, with the sky painted in hues of orange and pink, reflecting on the water. This is Juan Zurita Victoria

Trail Running in Oaxaca: Top Routes and Tips for Runners

Want some activity on your vacation? Not everyone wants to sit around their entire vacation feeling like an outsider looking in.

Oaxaca offers breathtaking options for trail running, meeting people, and getting to know the area like a local. Are you in?

Read on…

Oaxaca is a beautiful and culturally rich southern Mexico destination known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant art scene, and delicious cuisine.

Among its many attractions, the region has also become a sought-after destination for trail running enthusiasts. With its diverse terrain, picturesque routes, and welcoming trail-running communities, Oaxaca offers a unique and unforgettable experience for runners of all levels.

This article will delve into the magic of trail running in Oaxaca, highlighting the top trail running destinations, upcoming events, preparation tips, and essential gear recommendations.

Get ready to hit the trails in this enchanting corner of Mexico!

Introduction to Oaxaca and its Trail Running Scene

Oaxaca is a state in southern Mexico known for its beautiful colonial architecture, indigenous cultures, and the majestic Sierra Madre mountain range. The region is also becoming increasingly popular for trail running, thanks to its diverse landscapes, stunning views, and well-maintained trails.

Boredom is not an option.

The Benefits of Trail Running in Oaxaca

Trail running in Oaxaca offers several benefits over traditional road running. The varied terrain helps build strength, balance, and agility, while the landscape’s natural beauty will keep you engaged and motivated.

Furthermore, trail running in Oaxaca allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and connect with nature in a unique and unforgettable way.

What Makes Oaxaca Unique for Trail Running

Oaxaca’s diverse topography makes it an ideal destination for trail running. Oaxaca’s landscape offers something for every runner, from lush forests and rolling hills to steep mountain paths and picturesque river trails. Additionally, the region’s rich history and vibrant culture make for an immersive and unforgettable experience for those who visit.

Top Trail Running Destinations in Oaxaca

If you want to get out of your routine and have an unforgettable experience, Oaxaca offers abundant trail running options catering to a wide range of skill levels and preferences.

Here are some of the top trail-running destinations in the region:

  • Sierra Norte Mountains: This area boasts a network of ancient trails through cloud forests. The diverse terrain includes pine forests and waterfalls, making it a favorite among trail runners.
  • Hierve el Agua: Known for its petrified waterfalls, this area offers trails with a mix of technical and flat sections. The views of the natural mineral formations are an added bonus.
  • Benito Juárez National Park: Located near the city of Oaxaca, this park offers a variety of trails. The routes here are rich in biodiversity and offer runners a chance to experience Oaxaca’s natural beauty up close.
  • Monte Albán: While primarily an archaeological site, the surrounding areas offer trails that provide both cultural insights and physical challenges. Runners can experience the ruins and the panoramic views of the Oaxaca Valley.
  • Zaachila Valley: A less-visited spot, this valley offers trails through traditional villages, farmlands, and lush landscapes. It’s a great option for those looking to experience authentic Oaxacan countryside.

Remember to check local guidelines or hire a local guide when exploring unfamiliar trails. They can provide valuable insights and ensure your safety.

Upcoming Trail Running and Ultra Running Events in Oaxaca

Oaxaca hosts numerous trail running and ultra running events throughout the year, catering to a wide range of skill levels and preferences. Some notable upcoming events include:

  • La Carroñera Utc: 12km | 30km | 72km with altitude!  Tough climbs and beautiful scenery. This race has become iconic. There is also a night trail event.  
  • Trail de la Mixteca: Kids |12km | 30km A vertical race that brings together Mexicos running community, including elite runners. It has a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.
  • Tepeztate Trail: Kids |15km | 25km San Pablo Güila is a remarkably vibrant and welcoming Zapotec community. Here, the indigenous Zapotec locals are eager to share their rich culture with visitors. One of the most engaging ways to experience this is by exploring the scenic mountain trails surrounding the tranquil village, which is home to numerous trail-running champions.

Preparing for Your Oaxaca Trail Running Adventure

Before embarking on your trail running adventure in Oaxaca, preparing both physically and mentally is essential. Here are some tips for getting ready to tackle Oaxaca’s diverse terrain:

  • Train on varied surfaces: To better prepare yourself for Oaxaca’s trails, incorporate a mix of road, trail, and hill running into your training regimen.
  • Build strength and flexibility: Strengthening your core, legs, and upper body will help prevent injuries and improve your performance on the trails. Incorporate strength training exercises and stretching into your routine.
  • Practice proper hydration and nutrition: Staying hydrated and fueling your body with the right nutrients are crucial for optimal performance on the trails. Make sure to practice proper hydration and nutrition strategies during your training.

Tips for Trail Running in Oaxaca’s Diverse Terrain

Oaxaca’s varied landscape presents unique challenges for trail runners. Here are some tips for navigating the region’s diverse terrain:

  • Choose the right footwear: Invest in quality trail running shoes that provide good traction, support, and protection for your feet.
  •  Pace yourself: Oaxaca’s trails can be challenging, especially for those new to the area. Start slow and gradually increase your pace as you become more comfortable with the terrain.
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions: Oaxaca’s weather can be unpredictable, so dress in layers and pack a lightweight, waterproof jacket.
  • Follow trail etiquette: Respect other trail users and the environment by staying on marked trails and packing trash.

Local Trail Running Clubs and Communities

Oaxaca has a welcoming and supportive trail-running community, with numerous clubs and organizations catering to various skill levels and interests. Some popular local trail running clubs and communities include:

OaxSport Charity: A local organization in Oaxaca that supports local and indigenous runners. They often share information about trail running events in the region. (Source: https://www.oaxsportcharity.org/ https://www.oaxsportcharity.org/)

OaxSport Airbnb Experiences Running Tours: For those looking to combine their passion for trail running with cultural exploration, OaxSport Airbnb Experiences offers guided running tours with local athletes that showcase the region’s stunning landscapes and vibrant culture.

Training and Acclimatization for Oaxaca’s Trails

To ensure a safe and enjoyable trail running experience in Oaxaca, it’s essential to acclimate to the region’s climate and altitude properly. Some tips for acclimatization include:

  • Arrive early: Give yourself a few days to adjust to Oaxaca’s altitude before embarking on strenuous trail runs.
  • Start slow: Begin with shorter, less strenuous runs and gradually increase your distance and intensity as your body acclimates to the new environment.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help your body adjust to the change in altitude and prevent altitude sickness.

Essential Gear for Trail Running in Oaxaca

Packaging the right gear is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable trail running experience in Oaxaca. Some key items to include in your trail running kit include:

  • Trail running shoes: A quality pair with good traction and support is essential for navigating Oaxaca’s diverse terrain.
  •  Hydration system: Stay hydrated on the trails with a hydration pack or handheld water bottle.
  •  Lightweight layers: Dress in moisture-wicking layers to help regulate your body temperature and pack a lightweight, waterproof jacket for unpredictable weather conditions.
  • Guide: If you don’t know the area, running with experienced runners local to the area can be safer and more enjoyable. Try OaxSports tours here for a good range of local tracks and abilities.
  • Navigation tools: If you don’t have a guide, bring a map, compass, or GPS device to help you navigate the trails.
  • First aid kit: Pack a small kit with essentials like band-aids, pain relievers, and blister treatment.

Experiencing the Magic of Oaxaca Through Trail Running

Trail running in Oaxaca offers a unique and unforgettable way to experience the region’s stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and welcoming communities.

Oaxaca is a trail runner’s paradise with its diverse terrain, picturesque routes, and challenging events. So hit the trails, and discover the magic of Oaxaca for yourself!


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Emma Francey, Content Writer, Brisbane, Australia.

So happy to be a contributor to this dedicated organisation that backs local committed, talented athletes.
I am a sports lover and believe it brings everyone together from all walks of life in a genuine way. We have so much to share and enjoy together.

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