Join me as I travel travel to the Azores, Portugal, on the island of Faial, to race in the Whalers’ Great Route Ultra-Trail by Azores Trail Run which was established in 2014.
I spoke with the race director Mário Leal post running the 25K race.
We discussed the race, the experience of running in the Azores. It is a place where the runners run across incredible volcanic craters that formed the island. Plus we dive deeper into the history of the place and the historical passages of the ancient whalers that tell the story of this land and its people.
This YouTube video accompanies the full podcast conversation (Episode 129 of A Runner’s Life Podcast) with Mário, this provides an extra layer of depth alongside this conversation. Click the following link to listen to it.
I hope that this short video shows the natural blue of the ocean to the vastness of green from its forests and fields, the black sands of the last volcanic eruption that grew this island, to the pallet of colours of the environment are just some of the great sights you will experience on this journey.
The 25K race is called The Trail Ten Volcanoes. As the name indicates, it starts at spectacular volcanic calderas and passes, along 10 of the most important volcanoes of Capelo Peninsula’s fissural alignment. Visually the biodiversity and geodiversity are a constant on this course. What was striking was the incredible landscapes of this peninsula, where a great part of the Azores endemic plants can be found in its natural state.
This Capelinhos Volcano was last active 57 years old ago (2022) the terrain is formed mainly by volcanic matter. It ends at Porto do Comprido, at the sea level, on the main and largest whaling station of the Azores between 1940 and 1957.
Personally I found the change from road to trails challenging mentally and physically, but I felt so rewarded, it is an amazing race that will stay with me for the right reasons, and I am keen to run it again in the future.
Runners have the option of running these different distance races on the same event:
◦ Whalers’ Great Route Ultra Trail: 118k
◦ Ultra Blue Island: 65k
◦ Marathon Faial Coast to Coast: 45k
◦ Ten Volcanoes Trail: 25k
◦ Mini Family Trail: 11k – Free for Kids under 16
For the 118K race for runners who complete the race within 26 hours, they will qualify to enter a lottery where the runners for Western States 100 Miler will be selected.
This race takes place annually every May, so if you want to enter click this link
(AD) This episode is part of a project with On Running for an upcoming project.
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Shot using iPhone Pro 13, GoPro Hero 10, Dji Mini 2 Drone