ECOTRAIL FUNCHAL MADEIRA

Before the horn, the sweat and the flowers, I initially planned on racing in the “Grand Raid de la Réunion.” Unfortunately, multiple rib fractures on the UTMB forced me to rest for five weeks, without trail running, and it is impossible to perform well in the Grand Raid without proper training.

Instead, I turned my attention to this shorter, more familiar trial: the 80-kilometer Ecotrail Funchal Madeira. I competed in the 40 just last year, when Arnaud Lejeune won the full course over Fabien Antolinos.

 

Julien madeire 2016

 

The Ecotrail is more straightforward than the Grand Raid and keeps a faster pace. The 80 requires less than ten hours on the ground and only two hours of night running at the beginning.

Still, I arrived to the opening arch with some uncertainty, questioning my form and my ability to be first across the finish line…

 

I begin cautiously, staying with a small group of four to five runners for the first 30 kilometers, until the first rays of sunshine at Pico do Arieiro (1800m).

 

Julien madeire 2016 6

 

A steep descent of 1500 meters over 10 long kilometers finally separates us. At Ribeira Grande, it is just me and Casey Morgan, a Scottish trail runner I journeyed alongside last year at the Oxfam Trailwalker in Hong Kong.

 

Julien madeire 2016 5

 

The next section - a steep kilometer - puts me to the test. I push through the strenuous terrain, gaining a slight lead on Casey.

Afterwards, I take a few minutes to recuperate, but it does not take long for Casey to regain ground. We continue through the loop at the summit, bathed in an incredible, mystical fog.

On paper, the final sections should be the easiest part of the race. But the extreme grade of descent and unforgiving concrete are hard to digest after such beauty.

As soon as we approach the sea, the pleasant fresh and humid air of the summit becomes intensely hot and dry.

Les dernières portions sur des lévadas font mal car il faut retrouver une bonne allure le long des canaux d’irrigation presque plats, et le long de la plage à 5km de l’arrivée.

The last portions of the Levadas pound my feet, but I find a good rhythm along the water for the final five kilometers.

 

Julien madeire 2016 7

 

Now it is time to enjoy a few days of rest and relaxation with my family!

 

Julien madeire 2016 3

 

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