How the adventure began…

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Happy with the overall victory 🙂

At the begin of the year I have never thought that I would have finished my third stage race by the end of April. But as Carlos Sa invited me at The Coastal Challenge to his race in Portugal and was full of enthusiasm about this 3-days-stage-teamrace I almost had no other choice than to confirm 😉
I don’t know if you sometimes do the same „mistake“ than me: During a race when it’s very tough you ask yourself why you are doing this sch… and swear never to register again but shortly after you have crossed the finish line and are sitting it the refreshment tent you see the flyers from a lot of other races and think about the next one…so I did it again!

A race in a national park???

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Wild, untouched landscape!

To organize the first edition of a trailrunning race in the only national park in Portugal, to respect all the strict rules from the park administration and to keep the track attractive for the athletes was quite a difficult challenge for the whole team but they did a very impressive job! Additionally the weather forecast was really bad and the tough rain transformed the trails into small creeks and on the mountains it was freezing cold, almost snowing! But that could not make the mood of the runners dropping down in any ways and still very motivated we (about 300 runners mainly from Portugal) started the first „warm-up-stage“ with 36km and about 2.000m+ 😉

Various terrain

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Very cold and windy during the race…

Very small paths over steep, rocky mountain terrain and good smelling eucalyptus forests led us through the nearly untouched landscape of the park (which is about 1,5h north of Oporto) and took us on a very well-marked route in a unique fairyland. Huge powerful waterfalls, rests of historic Roman pavements and old oaks full of thick moss made it like a „Lord of the Rings“-flashback. But the very technical downhills with loose, sharp rocks on the wet terrain made the runners being concentrated all time!
It was also very nice to see so many residents of the small village Geres cheering every day for the runners on the last meters to the finish line which was the same all three days.

 

 

 

Like a big family

The atmosphere of the whole event was very familiar and a lot of happiness! Sitting together in the evenings with local specialities discussing the race a few hours ago and focusing the upcoming difficulties was very nice with a great joviality I haven’t seen very often!

It’s gonna be a long day in the mountains…

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Almost there: last downhill to the finish

The second stage with 60km and almost 3.600m+ was the biggest challenge for everyone! A lot of very technical parts with river crossings (depending the size the icy water was quite deep ;-), some easy climbing parts and very slippery trails forced the runners be be concentrated 110% every time and made it more an adventure run. But my Portuguese teammate Armando Teixeira and I really liked that and so we could finish 20min in front of the 1st stage winners from the Bask country. But hey, 7:19 hours is a long day…

IMG_5989Virtually you could name the 3rd stage with 12km and about 800m+ easy but after the last two days the legs felt heavy and runners were tired. Despite that there was a serious battle for every position but even as we got 2nd again behind Igor and Juan our overall lead was too big 😉
It was very clever from the organisation also to offer a “short” 82km team-race route in the three days and a shorten individual track so that the beginners also had a lot of great experiences!

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Port of Porto 🙂

Ending up my Portugal-trip with a great lunch in the harbour in Porto made it perfect. Thanks Carlos Sa and all the organisation team, you did an awesome job!!!

 

 

 

Find here the official website.

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If you want to find out more about the race routes check my moves from: 1st stage2nd stage – 3rd stage.