First man to run Ruta de las Conquistadores does it in 82 hours

December 12, 2010

In four days, 45-year-old Will Laughlin climbed an elevation nearly double that of Mount Everest, ran through election-day parades and slept on the side of the road.

He waded through rivers, balanced across railroad bridges and scaled volcanoes, touching the Pacific on Saturday and arriving on the Caribbean 82 grueling hours later.

On Tuesday, he became the first man to run the famous Ruta de las Conquistadores, completing the 261-mile trek in less time than many world-class bikers.  

“It was more than I could have hoped for,” said a still exhausted Laughlin on Sunday afternoon, one day before he’d return to his hometown in Boulder, Colorado. “I enjoyed every moment, and I got to see Costa Rica in a way that few foreigners do.”  

Posting on his blog a few days after the run, Laughlin wrote, “There was heat, rain, mud, 40 percent inclines, thick jungle, river crossings, deadly traffic, hooligans and rickety railroad bridges. I got lost. My crew got lost. We were wet and tired and sore much of the time. We froze. We baked … But despite all the challenges, it was about the most fun I’ve ever packed into four days.

Aside from wrecked toenails and a few unexpected hours of separation from his support team, the trek went smoothly. In fact, Laughlin told his wife, Beth, who served as crew director, that it was one of the best runs of his life.

“It was a combination of good training, good nutrition,” Laughlin said. “And experience. The more time you do this type of run, you know what not to do.”

According to the founder of Ruta de las Conquistadores, Laughlin is the first to complete the route on foot. He won’t be the last. The pair is already discussing future races.

Laughlin completed the run to raise awareness for his nonprofit, Nut-Rients, which provides therapeutic peanut butter to malnourished people. For more information, visit www.nut-rients.com.

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