EIGHT MEMORABLE MILES IN THE PYRENEES

TR EDITOR PAUL LARKINS RECALLS EIGHT OF HIS FAVOURITE MILES OF HIS 2019 #RUN1000MILES CHALLENGE


by Trail Running |

As attractive as Barcelona can be, trail runners should turn their attention to the mountains barely an hour’s drive from the airport, if memories, adventures, history, culture and generally just enjoying an amazing few days away are all part of your travel requirements.

The Pyrenees, with amazing running-friendly trails that climb beyond 2500m, endless vistas above the cloudline and all the culture and, more importantly, local cuisine offer surely what every trail running weekend should be about.

I was there for a few days recently, partly to report on Sky Pirineu but more to just chill for a few days, get some leisurely miles in - oh and eat.

Let’s start with the important stuff first - the trails. I used the small, sleepy village of Baga as a starting point as that’s where the race begins from (the village turns from sleepy to festival crazy), but you can pretty much use any local town, such is the size of the network you’ll discover. Of course, you need to take all the necessary safety precautions, given the altitude you’ll be running at, but equally the way marking is so good that it doesn’t take long to discover a great route – you’ll be confident as to where you are and how far it is to the next mountain refuge.

Running as the dawn breaks - amazing

Running as the dawn breaks - amazing

For me, the most important factor was the quality of the paths. Yes, you’re in the mountains, but they are superbly cared for. Even the technical sections towards the summit are pretty runnable for all but a few metres. Through the forest it’s truly Alpine, complete with bell-ringing cattle ambling along the paths.

A memorable climb (or descent in this instance!)

On day two, for something a bit different I simply took the cable car to the Coll de Pal (the highest point in the race), and pointed myself in the general direction of down for the 14km back to the village via lunch at the El REbost mountain refuge. And by lunch, I mean amazing meal. Amazing fun. Again, the paths are magnificent and the views spectacular. For me, it was the standout run for 2019.

*We stayed at the El Castell de la Pobla de Lillet (castellpobladelillet.com) and Hotel Muntanya (Cerdanyaecoresort.com), both of which are close to limitless mountain paths.

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