The rain continued to fall, day 2 at UTAX was a continuation of day 1 but the sun did break through every now and again and gladly, overt the midday, a continuous sunny dry spell provided the Da Inclusivo race with a clear spell. The last finisher of the 110km had arrived early in the morning and at 0900 it was time for the Children to race. Axtrail Kids allows 6-16 year olds an opportunity to have their own moment in a full weekend of activity. It’s this all encompassing approach of the Aldeias do Xisto that makes it special.
While the kids raced in the centre of the town, the MTX 10km was also underway, an introduction to trail running that used the first 10km of the UTAX race which finishes in the Schist village of Gondramaz. It may only be 10km but it’s a challenging 10km with plenty of technicality, mud, rocks, water, water-crossings and abundant waterfalls. The finishing village of Gondramaz providing a picture postcard ending.
And mid-morning, in the town of Vila Nova, the ‘Da Inclusivo’ race was due to start. Five teams carrying five disabled people on an 8km trail journey to the race finish in the centre of Miranda do Corvo. It’s this race that personifies trail running, the people, the ethos and the sharing of our sport. It’s an inclusive sport, not exclusive. Despite the at times technical trails, the five teams worked together as one. On occasion, from the outside looking in, it almost appeared like a rescue mission but the journey was completed to a welcoming crowd.
It’s this foresight and all encompassing attitude that has seen Portugal rise as a key influencer in the sport of trail and mountain running. Of course, trail running brings tourism and this is an important element in any growing race series. The natural conditions of the region, the stunning Schist villages combined with local hospitality make Aldeias do Xisto and Portugal the perfect destination for a family of trail runners; all are welcome. Mum, dad and children can race and they have a custom events geared to their abilities. Or maybe they can reach out and push a new boundary, move up say from the 22km event and run the 50km, or even take on the UTAX? This area has so much to offer, an extended stay to explore many of the 27 Schist villages makes logical sense for those travelling from overseas.
Fernando Pinto, one of the key organisers at AXtrail sums it up, “The AXtrail®series is an event for everyone, with a comprehensive character. Children, youth, adults, experienced athletes, sports teams or families; everyone is welcome and will find a place!”
Racing is more than racing, it’s a series of experiences! Participating, watching, supporting or cheering, many a runner who ran one of the events over the Aldeias do Xisto weekend gained as much satisfaction on Sunday watching children arrive with beaming smiles or watching the arrival of the five Da Inclusivo teams. AXtrail know how to put on a weekend of racing. I will be back, I am sure.
Many thanks to:
Fernando Pinto, Miguel Pessoa, João Lamas, Aldeias do Xisto, Marli Monteiro, Palacio do Lousa, AXtrail® and many thanks to Centro de Portugal Touristic Office http://www.centerofportugal.com.