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Valle del Genal Ultra Trail

26-Oct-2018 Algatocín, Málaga, Spain

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1 REVIEWS
Trail Race Race Terrain
130KM / 81Miles
1 Day

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Advanced  

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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 Valle del Genal Ultra Trail

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SWhitt

09:42 15-11-18

Holding legendary status among Andalucian runners, the 130km Valle del Genal added an extra category to its range of races this year (2018) with a 100 miler...and that's the race I've tackled.

Starting on the coast at Estepona, in Malaga, the race kicked-off at 9pm with a 'parade' around the town before heading inland and up and over Sierra Bermeja, including a vertical km from 8km to about 13km and the second checkpoint. It was a nose to tail climb up this first tough ascent, with the lights of the coast spreading out below us.

Up in the clouds, with the field thinning out, the course then took us hard downhill on wet woodland trails before opening out on wide jeep track, and hitting the main race HQ at Genalguacil at 39km with access to the first of two drop bags. This is where the traditional 130km ultra route starts and the 100 mile route simply followed the same route from this point.

With just shy of 9000m positive gain, there is not a flat section on this course. As one Spanish runner commented it's either "arriba o bajo" - up or down! The route takes a general theme of uphill, downhill and uphill into the next pueblos blanco (white town) and checkpoint. Except of course Juzcar which is blue!

Being Andalucia, there's fabulous support with every town the route passes through wanting to get involved, and locals volunteering at all the checkpoints at all times of the day and night.

Following mainly 4x4 track, the route takes in a complete circumference of the famous sweet chestnut producing area at harvest time of the year. And yes, chestnuts feature in the prizes ;-)

Extra credit goes to organizers this year for putting on the event, since a terrific storm hit the area just 5 days before the race. Mountain sides literally slide off down the valley taking everything in their path, with much evidence in the villages we passed through. But the team got out and found diversions for us to take with just a few days notice.

With all the villages hosting checkpoints, the stops were close and on an average just 8km apart. While this is great for eating and drinking, there are plenty of chairs to tempt you into loitering and it's easy to waste time.

The course was generally very well marked, with just a few iffy bits in and out of villages where cars had moved and perhaps covered a strand of tape.

The 40 odd hour 100 mile cut off was average for the distance considering the amount of ascent/ descent.

The race organization is second to none, with admin questions answered quickly (even with my broken Spanish/ English). And the start / finish lines really make you feel like you're taking part in something special. Even with me finishing at around 3am on the second morning, there was a commentator to welcome me over the line, spectators hanging around, a bar, massage therapist, and hot showers.

The 100 mile is a rare distance in this part of Spain so entries are balloted with runners expected to meet pre-entry requirements. No big issue if you regularly tackle mountain ultras but maybe tricky it you only run flatter ultras.

Travelling from the UK for the 100 is logistically very straight forward and the race entry fee is very cheap. I think I paid 80 euro this year. Fly into Malaga, hop on the bus, get a taxi ride, or rent a car to get yourself to Estepona where you can collect your number just before the race.

However, getting to and from Genalguacil (where the 100 finishes and 130km starts and finishes) without your own transport is trickier. There is no longer a train or regular bus service. Realistically, you'd need to rent a car. The organisers hire a coach to take 100 mile runners to the Estepona for a small fee (let them know if you need this since it gets oversubscribed). There is also a school hall for runners to bed down in on finishing the race.

All in all a great race and I'm pretty chuffed to have got round.

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