The second edition of the ECOTRAIL Funchal took place this past weekend on the stunning island of Madeira.
Portugal and Madeira has in recent years seen a real boom in trail and mountain running and the ECOTRAIL is quite unique in it’s approach of combining trail and city in one. The Funchal edition of the race is now one of six Ecotrail events, the other five – Brussels, Madrid, Paris, Oslo and Stockholm.
Four events, hundreds of runners and the community of Funchal united make the ECOTRAIL Funchal a real highlight in what is a very busy year for this island paradise that attracts tourists year round due to it’s excellent climate.
Jordi Saragossa traveled to Madeira to cover the race for iancorless.com
Starting in the early hours of the day, the 80km main event has a whopping 5400m of elevation gain that climbs up and down the technical trails within the Funchal region. Last year, the race was won by Arnaud Lejeune. Under the illumination of head lamps 100’s of runners set out for a tough day on the trails – Julien Chorier and Casey Morgan headed up a very strong field. Chorier moving up from the 40km distance which he won in 2015.
A weekend of racing, the 80km event is followed by the 40km event (171 runners) with 2500m of elevation gain, the 25km event (263 runners) and the 15km event (301 runners).
Madeira is known for it’s great all year climate but race day proved to be a mix of glorious sunshine, cloud and light rain. However, the conditions for runners were perfect enabling the majority to run in conditions that were neither to hot or cold.
Although Chorier and Morgan dominated the 80km event, the ECOTRAIL Funchal is much more than elite names racing and setting records. The race is all about motivation and inspiration. This was reflected in the 15km event which was by far the most popular event of the weekend, where local people arrived in their hundreds to take part and support.
In the 80km race, Julien Chorier lead from the front and had a stunning day on the trails of Madeira. He arrived in Funchal looking strong. Casey Morgan placed 2nd just 6-minutes behind the Frenchman and Javi Bodas was 3rd, 19-minutes later. For the ladies, Wasmes Wasmed took a conniving victory 14-minutes ahed of Nadia Meroni and Sylvie Benech was 3rd, 1-hour after 2nd place.
“The race itself was great, I felt really strong all day. Julien put in a big attack on the second major climb and I had to let him go otherwise I was going to explode but I was pulling him back close to the summit but unfortunately missed a turn and added an extra km or so and never saw him again all day! A beautiful course with a lot of variety. Some really steep technical terrain but also some pretty smooth and fast sections. The weather was just as varied, wet and windy up high but sunny and very hot back in Funchal. A great weekend all round.” – Casey Morgan
In the 40km race, Gence Bertrand was 6-minutes clear of Olivier Morin with Francois Laurent placing 3rd – ‘very tough challenging and technical!’ Fanny Borgstrom was in her own race for the ladies’ finishing over 1-hour clear of Alice Sousa and Leau Sophie placing 3rd.
It was a close 1,2,3 for the men as they all finished within 7-minutes. Manuel Jesus took the tape first ahead of Nuno Pereira and Carlos Pereira finishing just 2-minutes later. Carla Leite was a conniving winner for the ladies’ with a 20-minute margin over Lulia Fuiorea and Susana Azevedo 3rd.
The 15km race was all about fun and in many scenarios it provided a first race opportunity for many locals. No doubt, they will be inspired to look ahead to 2017 and maybe move up to the 25 or 40km distances?
The 80km and 40km races
The race started by following the main streets of the town heading east and then up to Curral dos Rameiros and Monte. Following trails, technical at times they head to the 1800m summit at Pico do Arieiro and then drop like stones to Allegria (this is the 40km start).
Navigating through suburban streets a brutal uphill follows and then a descent to Ribeira Grande, Santo Antonio. At Levada Negra another steep climb awaits, unfortunately this is the nature of Madeira trails; they go up and down! From Pico de Buxo they drop downhill towards the sea and stunning views of Funchal. Following trails and paths they navigate to the finish in Funchal with a final stretch running along the coast and the finish in Avenida do Infante.
Starts in the highlands of Santo Antonio and takes in the final sections of the 80km and 40km events to finish on the Avenida do Infante in Funchal. The race has 900m+.
The shortest race of the Ecotrail Funchal – Madeira 2016, will start at Pico dos Barcelos, at 355 meters, the athletes will take a route mostly downhill, going past Levada do Curral, Levada do Castelejo and Levada dos Piornais.
RACE WEBSITE AND INFORMATION HERE
RACE RESULTS HERE