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Peneda-Gerês Trail Adventure Race (PGTA)

13-Apr-2019 Arcos de Valdevez, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

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1 REVIEWS
Trail Race Race Terrain
200KM / 124Miles
7 Days

Alternate Distances: 125KM/78M 25KM/16M

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Brutal  

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Event Organiser
Carlos Sá

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Beginner

Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.

Intermediate

Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.

Advanced

Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.

Expert

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.

Brutal

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Type: An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for: Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Global - Virtual

Type: A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for: For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Review Peneda-Gerês Trail Adventure Race (PGTA)

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Ian R

07:21 27-04-19

This was a superb 8-day, 7-stage race through northern Portugal's mountainous and bucolic terrain, much of it in the country's only national park and even edging over the border into Spain for a short distance one day.

It was often cold, wet and windy but when the sun did briefly shine it was glorious.  The beautifully green landscape with terraced fields, stone villages and heather covered mountainsides proved a worthwhile challenge with almost 10,000 metres of ascent and descent over the 212km run - of which only about 15 were flattish.  Of course, according to the master trail runner and Race Director of this event, the very approachable Carlos Sa, each day was "relatively flat".  Hmm, compared to the Himalayas maybe?

The whole race is very accessible.  Though a camping option exists, most chose to use the race hotels, some of which were very comfortable indeed, which together with the post-race lunches each day, complete with unlimited beers and food, made for a very comfortable way to relax and wind down prior to the next day's stage.  There were both 4-stage and 7-stage options, and within each of these an 'advanced' and a 'starter' version, the latter of which started about half-way along the course, missing out much of the most extreme climbing and descending; though days 4 and 5 were the same distances for all.  It means there's a choice for everyone and that was represented in the multitude of nations that entered with almost 30 countries represented from every continent.

Part of the challenge was the first day.  An extremely early alarm call to get to the airport for a 6am flight to Porto, followed by a mad dash to collect our bags and get to the race shuttles that were waiting to transport us to registration a two hour coach ride away, was in itself tiring.  Then we stood in the very long and slow registration queue before it was time later to board the bus fro the start of the first stage.

Yes, day 1 really was day 1, with an evening stage kicking off proceedings.  Just 27km for the advanced runners but it was 27km with almost 1,500m of up and down.  I tried - but failed - to avoid using my headtorch, having to use it for the last couple of kilometres but really needing it before then.  I lost time trying to run the downhill to the finish without it and tripping over rocks and roots before eventually stopping to fish it out the back of my race vest where I'd securely stashed it.  Then in the dark of doing this, I lost one of my soft flasks without noticing, as well as several places as runners passed me.  Still I did OK and got back in time for dinner - which the last runners who arrived after midnight, didn't!

It was more than a tough start because the next two days, starting early in the morning were the two longest - a marathon stage, followed by a 45km ultra.  The legs felt it going downstairs the next two mornings, though from then on they got only stronger and I suffered no more DOMS.  I also tried poles for days 3 and 4.  They certainly helped on the steepest sections, both up and down and I eventually worked out a way of helping me speed up running up gentler inclines (there weren't many!).  However, I'm not experienced with them, they didn't feel secure on my Ultimate Direction race vest when I tried to stash them and I felt they rather got in the way at times when I could run rather than hike.  So, for the rest of the week I left them back in my room and felt less encumbered by them - but still got passed by pole-users on the steepest ups.  More practice required.

The days and scenery got better and better though and 7 stages were disappointingly too few by the end.  With the relaxed lunches and great ambience of the evening mealtimes that included a next day's briefing and a slideshow and videos from the day's events on the stage, this was a holiday as well as a race.  There really is something for everyone and Carlos Sa and his team worked extremely hard to make everything go very efficiently and smoothly.  Strongly recommended.

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