Cuzco and Sacsayhuaman since time immemorial have been stages for sport. Athletic practices are part of the customs of a great part of Cuzco’s population. In this case, the north east zone of the city is made up of different neighborhoods and districts extending along the edge of the Sacsayhuaman park. The Circunvalación leads through these neighborhoods from the city to the site of massive Inca remains. It is the preferred route of Cuzco’s athletes who morning run up the entire route to Sacsayhuaman.
The runners leave home very early, from about four in the morning approximately. The experience of going out at that hour of the morning is very agreeable. You feel the fresh and pure air. The smells of nature — the perfume of damp earth — surround you. The intensely cold air stings your skin before it disappears in the rhythm of your steps.
A splendid view accompanies you. From Sacsayhuaman you can see the whole city, from its beginning to its end. At that hour the city’s lights still shine although while you run you might just see them suddenly turn off with daylight’s bloom.
The sun opens its way and regales us with the beauty of dawn. The first rays of the sun shine on the highest peaks first. On this route we also run by different huacas.
Sometimes when I would run this route with friends from my neighborhood, we would plan the night before that we would meet just before dawn, at four am. We would send out a whistle telling everyone to wake up and come down to go running.
Some came out rubbing their eyes from sleep. All were warm in their jackets since morning in Cusco is always cold, though the temperature varies according to the season. It is always colder in the time of frosts.
Others would arrive uncombed. Their hair flying in many directions. But they had to come out to fulfill the promise we had made the day before.
Once we had gathered we would begin jogging from our neighborhood, Huayracpunqo. We would run towards the Circunvalación, through the sector of Occhullo Alto. Before us we could see the big house or mansion of Montesinos up on some rocks. On that same path we would run by the waqa of Teteqaqa, and then Mosoqllaqta, before passing the section of Qenqo, and finally arriving at Sacsayhuaman.
It really is something for photographs. You can see a lot of people running. Some ride bicycles. Some are alone and some in groups, all trying to arrive at Sacsayhuaman and enjoy a spectacular view.
The main point of encounter is an esplanade at the side of the archeological complex of Sacsayhuaman.
Once there we would begin to exercise. The main sport practiced in Cusco is football (soccer). Although it is most generally played on Sunday, once there we would find many flat pieces of land that were perfect for playing this sport. We used to climb up to the place where the slide of rock is found, but now that place is more protected. Spaces have still been set aside for where people can play soccer.
Another attraction was to go up and go through the Small Chincana. It is found in Sacsayhuaman itself, on its higher level. Everyone would go through the Chincana and it was quite an experience. But now the National Institute of Culture has prohibited entrance to people.
In other times it was obligatory for us who ran up to go through the Chincana which was quite a challenge. Everything was dark and difficult. You had to use your hands and touch as guides to find the path. It also was frightening because of the stories told about these chincanas, especially the Large Chincana. There are many stories of people who have entered the place and never come out. There is also a story of someone who entered and then a long time later came out. He appeared in the Cathedral with a corn-on-the-cob of gold. Today this Large Chincana is closed and forbidden.
There used to be people who knew well the way through the Small Chincana. Since it was small it was attractive. The idea would give you a bit of adrenaline. We would even play by hiding ourselves among its tunnels to surprise our friends. Sometimes when they would go by we would pull their hair. In the other chincana the said that there were other entrances. That is why they closed it. People kept exploring to find its mysteries.
Saturdays and Sundays are when more people go to Sacsayhuaman. People arrive early and leave late. Their activities depend on the month. But among the most preferred are football, volleyball, hanging out with their family, taking walks, and cooking in the open air. Sometimes you will also see groups practicing capoeira or yoga since Cuzco is a great crossroads.
Many times Sacsayhuaman also becomes the training ground for the armed forces. They jog up the highway and train on its esplanades, To them must also be added the firemen who have the custom of training in Sacsayhuaman. Years ago you would also see Cuzco’s flagship football team, Cienciano, practice in Sacsayhuaman. They say that this place has a lot of strong energy. As a result training there is as if they were training at a higher and superior level.
Not only is Sacsayhuaman a place for tourism and sport, it is also a place where every year they practice and then perform the Inti Raymi pageant as well as the Warachicuy, the first in June and the second in August. For this Sacsayhuaman really is a magical and enchanting place. Of course that is also one of the main reasons that make our athletes keep coming up to this marvelous place.
The tourist circuit is an open place were everyone can practice sports and even more socialize with lots of people.
It also lets us enjoy nature and share with the people who live higher up. We can also rent horses and go exploring further away to see more wonders. There are also lots of archeological sites up above the city of Cuzco that one can come to know.
But there is nothing like running up to Sacsayhuaman with your friends to then enjoy a friendly soccer match. This way we maintain our health. You will find everyone, from young to old, practicing and playing in Sacsayhuaman.
I am an athlete and I like to run up to Sacsayhuaman. It helps me with my studies as well as with keeping myself in good shape. It clears my mind. When I run up I can analyze my difficulties and find solutions for them. It also lets me accomplish more in my work because every time I run up, I return with my mind fresh and lots of new ideas to carry out in my work. As they say “sound body, sound mind.”