“Kilian Jornet! Les chaussures de Kilian!” One of the other guests at the hotel excitedly pointed at the red and white S-lab shoes I was wearing. I smiled as I struggled to carry my new shoes and clothes across the bar area. Not to judge a book by its cover, but the man admiring my shoes didn’t exactly look like an avid trail runner – and yet, he was able to immediately identify my shoes as the iconic pair worn by Salomon’s greatest athlete, Spanish mountain runner and adventurer, Kilian Jornet.
Animo! Animo! Venga Venga Venga!
Crowds of people seemed to line the trail at every turn, sometimes shouting from places I couldn’t even see. I heard ‘animo’ and immediately assumed they were calling us animals, which seemed rather accurate. I figured out that probably wasn’t what they meant, but every time I heard it I still nodded. Yup, we are animals. Rawr.
There is an intensity to Transvulcania that I am not accustomed to in ultras… and I’m not sure I entirely liked it. European races tend to start off with a lot of fanfare, but with a long enough race things usually calm down once you get into it… not so with Transvulcania. The race resembles more of a roller derby meets Spanish fiesta, with crowds cheering you on at every turn and someone constantly on your tail. It is thrilling and exhausting at the same time.
It says something about a race if you can’t wait to do it again despite vomiting your whole way around the course and finishing in the medical tent. That is the Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MIUT) for me.
But before we get to the vomiting, let me lay out the basics. MIUT is a 115km race with a whopping 7100m of climb on the unique Portuguese island of Madeira. Part of the Ultra Trail World Tour, he race starts at midnight on Friday on the north-west end of the island in Porto Moniz and finishes in Machico (time limit is 32h). There are also 84, 42, and 16 kilometre races if the 115km one is too daunting.