Edit ModuleShow Tags

I Tried It: Baja's New Adventure Race

Baja’s first-ever scrambling race takes you up, down, over—and sometimes through—the otherworldly landscape of La Rumorosa


Published:

A racer rappells a cliff during the Stone Human Race. | Photo: Chase Scheinbaum

For me, a trip to Baja usually means tacos and some surf. This time I found myself 4,000 above the desert floor, clipping my harness into a rope dropping out of sight, over a cliff’s edge. I was there among the jumbled granite boulders of La Rumorosa, a mountain pass between Tijuana and Mexicali—the perfect setting for an adventure race.

That’s why Mexican tourism officials created the Stone Human Race, Baja’s first-ever scrambling competition, held on May 19. “Scrambling” in this context has nothing to do with eggs or chorizo. It’s the kind that involves leaping, climbing, and otherwise navigating rugged terrain, like the kind found up there, an otherworldly landscape similar to the craggiest parts of Joshua Tree National Park.

Photo: Chase Scheinbaum

The 2-kilometer course weaved up, down, and over the terrain, as well as through several cuevitas (little caves) formed by piled boulders. It also required six rappels, the first of which descended that very exposed cliff face, positioned over the serpentine highway below.

La Rumorosa get its name from a whispering sound the wind makes as it whips through. On race day, though, the air was still, the sun was strong. The only sounds were from clinking carabiners and the hoots and heavy breathing of 19 two-person teams competing for a first place prize of $500.

Just five miles from the U.S. border, La Rumorosa is home to a tiny mountain town that offers a cool summertime escape from the desert. The area is probably better known for its notorious stretch of highway, which has been fatal for many truck drivers (particularly before recent road improvements), or a nearby archeological site once inhabited by Kumeyaay people. The Baja California government is hoping to make it an adventure destination, too. Hence the inaugural event of what it plans to make an annual competition. Next year’s course will triple the distance to six kilometers.

I descended the cliff, butt-first, into an alcove. After unclipping from the rope, I continued following a trail of small, spray-painted eagles marking the course. At one point after rappelling into a cave, I had to find my way out by following the sunlight to an opening just big enough for a person. I was glad I'd opted out of the free burritos offered beforehand!

Each rappel station was monitored by an attendant who made sure competitors properly connected their figure-eight rappel device to the rope. A local search and rescue team was on site and there was even an ambulance at the entrance. The safety precautions were comforting. By day’s end, the only person who needed attention was a competitor who twisted an ankle. I could attest to at least one undiagnosed sun burn, a few minor scrapes, and a pair of sore quads.  

The fastest team, a couple of experienced racers who traveled from Spain, crossed the finish line, sweaty and dusty, in about 45 minutes. Other than about $30 per person for the entry fee, and knowing how to rappel, racers need only a willingness to clamber around on jagged terrain. And to see Baja from a new perspective.  

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Trail of the Month: Georgia Street Bridge

Add a loop through Balboa Park and you've logged 4.6 miles

Scripps Doc Off the Clock

Carlos Quiros, MD, has rebuilt a 1965 Mustang from the ground up

New Looks for a New Year

Get your wardrobe 2019-ready with these stylists’ tips and tricks
Edit Module

Subscribe to the Blog

 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

9 Questions Answered about Botox

Avalon Laser demystifies Botox myths and explains procedures

Win Tickets to the 41st Annual SDCCU Holiday Bowl

This year’s Utah vs. Northwestern match-up marks the Holiday Bowl’s second straight paring of teams that are ranked nationally in the top 25
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego Magazine's Travel Awards 2019
    Cast your vote now for your favorite hotels, travel companies, and attractions
  2. Best Restaurants in San Diego: 2018
    San Diego's top restaurant owners, chefs, and bartenders name their favorite San Diego restaurants of 2018.
  3. Winter is Waiting in Montana’s Yellowstone Country
    Win a trip for two that includes roundtrip airfare from Long Beach and a stay at the Element by Westin in Bozeman, Montana
  4. First Look: Realm of 52 Remedies
    Wildly imaginative speakeasy cements the arrival of design to San Diego’s Asian food haven
  5. The Women Who Revolutionized San Diego's Food Scene
    A discussion with six iconic San Diego chefs and restauranteurs who helped make our culinary landscape what it is today
  6. 73 Must-Try Desserts in San Diego
    ’Tis the season for cakes, cookies, pastries, pies, profiteroles, and other sweet treats—just don’t tell your dentist to send us the bill
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module