The Inca Trail is one of the most popular hiking routes in South America, if not the world. Depending on the itinerary, most people spend about four days hiking from the trailhead to the terminus at Machu Picchu. By most accounts, it is a challenging hike, with lots of climbing and descending through the Andes mountains along the way.
Last week, blind ultra-runner Dan Berlin became the first person to run the route without the use of his sight. Joined by teammates Charles Scott, Alison Qualter Berna, and Brad Graff – collectively known as Team See Possibilities – Berlin ran the route in about 13 hours, with approximately 5000 feet (1524 meters) of vertical gain.
The four runners set out on the trail at 4:30 AM local time in Peru on October 14. Throughout the day, they were not only pushing their own personal boundaries, but were also racing the sun. The team knew that if they were going to reach the finish line in Machu Picchu before dark that they had to make it to the checkpoint at Winayawayna before 4:00 PM. They passed through that CP at 3:58 PM. That allowed them to press on all the way to the end, wrapping up the journey around 5:30 PM.
This isn’t the first time that Berlin has undertaken such an excursion. Last year, he ran across the Grand Canyon, rim-to-rim, in 28 hours, becoming the first blind athlete to complete that challenge as well. While he tells Outside magazine that the Inca Trail wasn’t as tough as that expedition, the more than 10,000 steps he had to overcome along the way were still very daunting.
Berlin received support from Intrepid Travel while undertaking this endeavor. The company offers small group excursions to destinations all over the world, and organizes a number of trips along the Inca Trail.
Congratulations to the entire team on a job well done, and to Dan for reminding us what we are all capable of if we set our minds on achieving a goal.
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