When I fell in love with trail running I knew the feelings and emotions which sparked then wouldn’t stop there. How many times have you felt that you wanted to stretch your wings and follow your dreams? How often have you felt a joy so strong that you inevitably aspired to grasp that happiness again?
I’ve been fortunate enough to experience my passion for trail running, through countless training sessions in forests and small mountains, in the vicinity of the place I live and abroad. I’ve been able furthermore to participate in epic races which fully embrace the spirit of trail running and the void. It all started by falling in love with Douro Ultra Trail, a fantastic race in northern Portugal, along the Douro River and the vineyards where Port Wine is done. Following it there was Ultra Trail Lamer Winkel, a gracious race at the heart of the Bayerischer Wald in southeast Germany.
With the advent of the New Year it came obviously into mind, what would be the challenges, the communities and the people I’d like to meet. The choices could only be made based on passion, love, emotion and bond. They’d have to be epic!
Looking at the Ultra Trail World Tour (now UTMB World Series) circuit and while making family plans for summer holidays, the first decision was made: Eiger Ultra Trail here we go for the 51 Kms race! We’ll be enjoying a fantastic week in the amazingly beautiful Grindelwald valley in July this year. This is the first time that family is included in the travel to a race. You should see the look in my kids face when I told them I’d be looking forward to having them cross the finish line with me. Not to say their enthusiasm for just being present… oh, and taking part in the kids race. It… will… be… fantastic!!!
When I started following trail running and its communities online, one of the first that caught my attention was the Armada Portuguesa do Trail. It was naturally made up of Portuguese countrymen, while at the same time had a motto about living the dream and tapping into the emotions I’d started feeling for the sport. Backing up the group is Paulo Pires, a fantastic ultra distance coach which is linked to major successes of great Portuguese Trail Runners. He’s the blaze behind the Armada Portuguesa do Trail community.
End of last year I started having my first thoughts on how I could face epic challenges in a structured and efficient manner. During a long run in December the idea came to contact Paulo and seek to understand what the Armada Portuguesa do Trail was all about, how it was managed and if an enthusiast like me could be part of it.
What I found was a wholehearted community, a group with an intense sense of humanity towards people and nature alike, built by the close relationship between its members and an essencial respect for everything that surrounds us. Paulo took me through the methodology being used, the realisation that each and everyone of us has a challenge to be lived and how the community is settled in a coupled bond between determination and companionship.
Since the beginning of this year I’ve been working with Paulo and the Armada Portuguesa do Trail. So far the experience has been great! I look forward every week to the trainings that lie ahead and to meeting all fellow comrades which are living the dream. I’m one of the few living abroad but hey, that gives me something more to look for when visiting Portugal.
With the main target set for July, having a preparation race around May, simulating the distance, elevation and height of the Eiger Ultra Trail has put me in the hunt for a new challenge. It didn’t take me much time to find Estrela Grande Trail, a 46 Kms race at the heart of Serra da Estrela (Star Mountain Range), organised by the outstanding Armando Teixeira athlete, peaking approximately 2000 meters high in a lovely scenery eager to be discovered. As February is now half gone, what seems to be a long wait will surely come around quickly.
The stage is set for a fantastic year!
The calendar is settled, I’ve embraced a superb community with an amazing coach and determination is building up by the day.
Are you living the dream this year as well? Have you booked the challenges you’d like to experience?
Always remember: do epic sh!t… life is short!