This island has always fascinated me for a number of years. But nothing could prepare me for what I actually saw, ran through, and the history behind it.
First some history of the race.
It all started in 2008, in what was also the first trail running event ever organized in Madeira. But the truth is, since 2004, there was already a group of members of the Clube de Montanha do Funchal who, every year, had the habit of attempting to cross the island in less than 24 hours. Some of those elements are still today the basis of the executive team of MIUT®.
The MIUT is now a stop on the Ultra World Tour Circuit and has a major draw of athletes from around the world.
My personal draw to MIUT is that I love to travel to unique destinations, I love lots climbing, elevation change, and going into the unknown of what the mind can do. Plus I love a good Sufferfest!
The best part of the destination Ultras is the amazing local support. The cheering, the energy, the love you feel is like no other and can carry you through the race. It takes the head game out and just makes it an amazing experience. PURE STOKE! It will be hard to ever find a race as amazing as MIUT. Just arriving can be an adventure, luckily the wind was not strong that day as it was the previous days causing flight delays. I arrived at the hotel and first thing saw @timothallenolson walking up, so all ready I was stoked!
The race played out like a dream. I was real close to the starting line right behind all the elites. As soon as the countdown started I turned on my headlamp as this was a midnight start. Boom off we go! In the beginning I gave it a good push up the the first little climb which was around 1,000 feet right before a little flat section the leading to the challenging climbs to Fanal and Estanquinhos. I kept pushing and the aid stations seemed to have just what I needed to carry me through. I must admit I ate a lot of chips! I also kept reapplying @topicaledge which kept my legs feeling fresh and ready.
The 6 hours of rain, fog, and the steep descents were very technical but I enjoy a real challenge. How boring if everything we planned for happened. With the Sunrise and the raining stopping I was feeling good.
The second phase from Encumeada to Areeiro in the central mountains starts with a visit to Curral da Freiras. This was once the place of refuge for the nuns who ran as fast as they could to escape the attacks of the Corsairs.. very remote and not easy to get to. Next, came the climb to the highest peaks of the island Ruivo and Areeiro. The route between the peaks of Ruivo and Areeiro will remain in my head for years to come. Rock tunnels made my mind think... how was these ever built? They were long but not long enough to get out my headlamp. I kept thinking I was going to trip or fall over something as it was complete darkness.
I was told if you could make it to the mythical peaks of Ruivo and Arieiro you really accomplished something. I was feeling pretty good at this point. maybe it was the views, running through the tunnels of rock, or the work that was put into preparation.
Let the downhill begin, with just a couple more short climbs. I looked at my watch and had already climbed some 22,000 feet in 50 miles.
Kept on pushing, only stopping for a couple minutes in the final aid stations. The last 7 miles with some being on some rad single track along the ocean was amazing. The final stretch, in the levada do Caniçal, allowed some beautiful views of the city of Machico and the finish line.
The most important thing I learned was probably to keep positive regardless of what happens. Anything is truly possible.
Finished 67th. Of the 900 started only 498 finished.
On to the next challenge