Join me as I 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.
We discussed the race, and 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 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.
Biodiversity and Beauty in the Azores
I hope that this short video fully reflects the stunning pallet of colours that the environment offers, from the natural blue of the ocean to the vastness of green from its forests and fields and the black sands of the last volcanic eruption.
The 25K I race I ran 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. Many of the Azores’ endemic plants can be found in their natural state here.
The Capelinhos Volcano was last active 57 years old ago (2022) and 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 who make the trip to the Azores have the option of running a variety of distances:
- 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
Runners who complete the 118K race within 26 hours qualify to enter the Western States 100 Miler lottery.
This race takes place annually every May, so if you want to enter click this link
Read about another of Marcus’ off road challenges here