28 TRI ATHLETE FEBRUARY 2014

RACE IT! There’s an incredible vibe at Ironman 70.3
Pucón (January 12, 2014), in no small part due to the intensely
competitive athletes of the region’s numerous triathlon clubs.
The course itself is no joke either—the run delivers precipitous
climbs, but the views across Lake Villarica easily compensate for
those complaining calf muscles.
CHECK IN
WELL KNOWN
THROUGHOUT SOUTH
AMERICA AS A HOLIDAY
RETREAT FOR FOREIGNERS
AND CHILEANS ALIKE,
THE LAKESIDE TOWN
OF PUCÓN IS EQUALLY
FAMOUS AMONG
ENDURANCE ATHLETES
AS HOME TO A SEASON-
STARTER RACE SET
AGAINST THE BACKDROP
OF THE MAJESTIC
VILLARICA VOLCANO.
BY HOLLY BENNETT
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TOUR
GUIDE
GO: January–February
is peak triathlon season,
whereas visitors during
Chile’s winter months
(July–September) are
more likely to take
advantage of Villarica’s ski
and snowboard slopes.
STAY: Gran Hotel Pucón’s
(Pucon.com/granhotel)
old-school aristocratic
charm provides a perfect
base for race-week
accommodation, within
steps of the swim start.
DINE: In Euro-styled
downtown Pucón,
you’ll ind an array of
international cuisine
in addition to savory
South American fare.
Senzo’s risotto al pesto
posso (homemade risotto
topped with a fresh and
sun-dried tomato basil
sauce) alone is almost
worth the trip. Other
must-eat spots include
Carnes y Vinos (“meats
and wines”) for dinner and
constantly packed café
Cassis for lunch, a latte
or an elaborate post-race
crêpe.
TRAVEL TIPS
• Pucker up. Chile is a kissing
culture—the standard greet-
ing involves a sort of half hug
along with a kiss on a single
cheek.
• Beware the Pisco Sour. This
legendary local drink has an
innocent citrus-sweet taste,
yet packs a serious high-
alcohol punch.
• For a true taste of Chile (at
around 25 cents), purchase
humitas (a corn-based treat
similar to tamales) from the
women lining the sidewalk
in front of the downtown
supermercado.
meat, chicken, sausage and
freshly caught fish washed
down with wine, beer and
Pisco Sours.
“SALUD!”
MAD ABOUT MALBEC
Wines from both Chile and
neighboring Argentina
(especially the Malbec vari-
etal) decorate nearly every
lunch and dinner table in
Pucón. Fortunately, the
tannic treats will barely
dent your budget—you’ll be
hard-pressed to spend more
than $20 on an outstanding
bottle of wine.
Pucón,
Chile
ADVENTURE AWAITS
FROM MOUNTAINS
TO MARKETS
Climb Villarica, an active
volcano rising 9,300 feet
above sea level and the
area’s main attraction.
You’ll need a guide for the
full-day trip—Sol y Nieve
is a reputable outfitter
(Solynievepucon.cl). Tours
run year-round and cost
around $120. For a less
strenuous but still sce-
nic adventure, head to
Termas Geométricas
(Termasgeometricas.
cl) for a soak in one of
17 volcanically heated
pools and a stroll amid the
center’s winding wooden
footbridges (admission is
$30–40 during peak hours).
Or simply peruse Pucón’s
numerous boutiques and
marketplaces ofering qual-
ity leather goods, silver jew-
elry and souvenirs.
PREPARE TO PARTY
AND GET YOUR GRILL ON
Chileans enjoy their cel-
ebrations, and the post-race
party is a prime example.
The Gran Hotel’s ball-
room is transformed into a
late-night dance club; the
party goes from midnight
until around 5 a.m. If you
befriend a local, you may
also be invited to a tradi-
tional Chilean barbecue,
overflowing with extended
family and friends and
an endless array of food—
including a dozen types of