Running in Xela It may feel like an obstacle course at first, but Xela’s hidden running routes will get you in top shape…once you get used to breathing at altitude. If you’re not too keen on going out to the Complejo and running in circles, we’ve outlined a variety of routes you find in Zona 1, leaving from Parque Central or Parque Bolivar. FLAT ROUTES SKATEPARK BACKROAD Did you know there’s a skatepark in Xela? Yeah, there’s a skatepark. Heard of the Cuesta Blanca? Starting in Parque Bolivar, you head across the main drag by La Torre. Take the road behind La Torre and Dominoes (motivation….) and you find yourself on a wide, paved road. Follow this double-wide, flat, paved road until you reach the busy, traffic-ed hill leading up to Cuesta Blanca. Look right and you’ll see the skatepark. Roll bro. Go by 6:30 am to avoid the traffic from responsible citizens going to school and work. Total round trip: 10-15 minutes Total distance: 1.7 miles/ 2.7 km COLINA MOLIDA BASE Connecting the Colina Molida to La Muela is a two lane, paved background that runs along the base of El Baul. The road provides enough of a shoulder to keep you safe from passing buses and also branches off into some schwankier neighborhoods where you can find a few sprint-worthy hills. Find the dingy soccer court off one of these side roads, on your way to the Basketball Court, and squeeze in some extra bodyweight training. Don’t be scared of the 4 dogs barking–they’re well out of range on the roof of the house next to the field. Total round trip: 15-30 minutes; tack on Colina Molida for another 30 minutes Total distance: 2.87 miles/4.5 km YELLOW CHURCH TO THE VALLE Around the corner from Pool and Beer is a yellow church, which you pass on our way up the hill to Panorama. The road in front of this church leads out to Valle Palajunoj, on a flat, wide, paved stretch that will take you all the way out to the Santa Maria trailhead in Llanos del Pinal if you keep on it. The traffic picks up 2 miles in where the roads converge, with chicken buses and trucks going out to the mining sites fighting for the same lanes. Before that it’s calm. Best time is early morning, pre -8am before the trucks are running, or late afternoon. Total round trip: 15-30+, depends on how far you go Total distance: 2.58 miles/ 4.15 km SEMI-HILL (INTERVAL) ROUTES COLINA MOLIDA HILLS If you want to see the nicest sidewalk in Xela, this is your route. La Colina Molida is the neighborhood that sits along the road leading up to El Baul. The streets are wide, paved, and with very little traffic. Starting in Parque Bolivar and running up towards the Colina provides varying gradual hills interspersed with flat spans. The hills are varied and the only place you’ll need to stop is when you see how nice that sidewalk is (it’s owned by the eerily vacant “private hospital”). This route stays uncrowded most of the day. Total round trip: 20-30 minutes Total distance: 2.07 miles / 3.34 km CHURCH TOUR Add on some stair sprints: On the Colina (hill) you’ll see another yellow church (Xela loves mustard yellow. So. Much.) with giant stairs. These are great for adding in some stair sprints. Add on some hills: Tack on a few sets stair sprints from the Colina Molida run, then loop back on the Colina Molida Base route. Towards the top of the incline, take a right and you’ll find yourself by a half-yellow church on a hill (yellow.) Enjoy the view. Descend through the neighborhood to get back on the cobblestones and swing a left toward the center on 9th, 10th, or 11th calle. You’ll be a few blocks off the main drag so there’s not much traffic in the morning. You’ll be nearing the route leading up to the Pool and Beer Yellow Church (3 words not often put together). Take the left to head up the hill to Panorama and go as far as you can. BIG HILLS EL BAUL Not the longest run, but probably the steepest. Not recommended as your first out-the-gate run in Xela, the road to get up to the trailhead is more tiring than the actual trail itself. Sometimes you may actually walk faster than if you run it. From Parque Bolivar, follow the route to the Colina Molida Base and just keep going up, up, up. When you see the pink playground equipment, the trailhead is 100 feet/30 meters up to your right. You can continue on the paved road for a flatter surface as the trail can be a bit topographical. If you want to take this hill in stages, combine it with the Colina Molida hill runs instead of going all the way up to El Baul’s trail. That leads you to the same place in a roundabout way, but you feel much more accomplished as you may actually be able to run the whole time. Before 9 am is the recommended time as more people are out exercising on Baul. Later in the day or evening has a reputation of being not as jogger-friendly. Total round trip: 30-60 minutes….depends on how much you like hills. Total distance to viewpoint on Baul: 1.5 miles / 2.24 km Total roundtrip: 3 miles / 4.48 km PANORAMA/CRISTO VIVE Add this hill onto any run for a steep addition to the top of Xela. READY TO RACE? There are races in or around Xela multiple times a month. The trick is finding about them. Often they’re posted on signs at El Complejo or in La Municipalidad. The Runners Xela Facebook group posts about races fairly often, although last minute. El Maraton Lago Atitlan is held every April and offers 5k, 10k, 15k, half marathon, and marathon races that take you along the lake route through a seriously beautiful race route. Often for races in Xela you sign-up at a specific bank or business, where you pay the entry fee (inscripcion) for the race. Disclosure: all times are based on a non-runner body starting with 0 days of training at rather high altitude. You marathon runners and natives of Nepal may have adjusted times.