Why Isla De Ometepe In Nicaragua Is The Best Training Ground For An Obstacle Racer

If you could have the perfect training ground, the perfect terrain for obstacle race training, what would it be like? Would it have hills? Water? Dirt roads? All of the above?

While most racers flock to the mountains of Colorado to train, after doing Fuego y Agua Survival Run for the past two years, I propose that Ometepe island in Nicaragua is way better.

I hesitate to post this, because hey, I kind of want to keep the island all to myself. But the desire to help others wins out – damn conscience. If someone figures out a way to surgically remove this particular part of my brain, let me know.

So, let’s see.

The island delivers…

A lake


Lake Nicaragua is the 19th largest lake in the world, and is the nation’s largest source of freshwater. Swimming for days. Literally, if you’d like. Water gets rough and choppy, especially in the windy season, as the lake has a reputation for storms.

Bull sharks? Yes.

Wikipedia helpfully mentions that bull sharks may be “more dangerous to humans than any other species of shark, and along with tiger shark and great white shark, are among the three shark species most likely to bite humans”. According to some claims, bull sharks have the most testosterone of any animal on the planet. [If you think there have already been peeps trying to “bulk up” on bull shark testosterone, you are right].


When someone compliments your muscles, and asks what are you on, you can proudly say “shark blood!”.

For those curious to look into this more,  you can check out research articles with such tittilating titles as “Serum Steroid Hormones and the Reproductive Cycle of the Female Bonnethead Shark” and “Partitioning of Body Fluids in the Lake Nicaragua Shark and Three Marine Sharks”.

Note to self – find a way to use expression “partitioning of body fluids” in an everyday conversation.

It seems that the last unprovoked shark attack in Lake Nicaragua took place in 1944. So… don’t piss off the sharks, and you will probably be fine.

Two volcanoes

Volcanoes are like ponies. Everyone should have one.

1 – The Fire Breathing Pony (aka Conception)


At 1,610m (5,282 ft), this pony is a hot tempered one, and a bitch to climb. The last eruption was on March 9th, 2010. The terrain is dry, dusty, and oh-so-technical. Your ankles have never had a workout like this.

Bring water. No, that 2L bladder won’t be enough. Bring three of those.

Once you get to the top, you’ll get a chance to practice your balance skills, walking along the narrow edge. Hot crater to the right, sharp cliff to the left. Good times.


2 – The Sleeping Pony (aka Maderas)


Standing at 1,394m (4,574 ft), it’s a bit shorter, but do not underestimate this pony. Many find it more difficult than Conception. The slow muddy-then-progressively-muddier ascent is soul sucking. And shoe sucking. It broke me last year.

Great way to increase your mental toughness. For added benefits, take this on at night, and follow up with a swim in a crater lake. The lake may be a surprising thing to find at the top of a volcano until you remember that Maderas is a passive volcano. It’s green and lush, and resembles a scene from Avatar.



Paved roads?


Dirt roads?


Very different terrains. Take your pick.

You will be faced with additional challenges of cows, pigs, horses and dogs. Blistering heat if you go running during the day. And pitch black if you go running at night. [That big thing coming at you from the bushes is probably just a horse. I think.]

The only thing that is currently missing, in my humble opinion, is a good gym facility. A girl’s gotta have her iron fix. I propose CrossFit Maderas and CrossFit Conception (with French speaking staff), each at the top of the corresponding volcano – so you get to warm up on the ascent, and to cool down on the descent.

Perfect, really.

After Costa Rica has become retirement central for Americans in the last 10 years, watch me be responsible for the mass exodus of obstacle racers to Ometepe.

Let me look at my race schedule. And flights.

See you on the island.


posted: March 02, 2016