The Grand Raid on Reunion Island concludes the 2014 Ultra Trail World Tour
In two days, from October 23-25, the annual Ultra Trail World Tour will come to a conclusion when the final race of the season will take place on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion.
Aptly named the “Diagonale des Fous,” perhaps best translated as the cross-island race for the most daring (if not outright crazy), is the route taking the runners right through the rugged interior of the island, up and down steep canyons, gorges, and valleys.
The main race, the 163 kilometer-long Diagonale des Fous, this year has some 2,435 registered participants, many of whom traveled to Reunion Island from around the world to complete the 10-race calendar, while two “lesser” races, and that is by no means meant in a negative way, as completing even those is a major physical challenge, have attracted thousands more. The “Bourbon Trail” of 92 kilometers expects to be run by 1,533 participants while the shortest of the races, the “Mascarene” of 67 kilometers has attracted 1,600 runners.
The ten races this year are spread across the world and include some of the best known spots around the globe:
1. Hong Kong 100, China
2. Trans Gran Canaria, Spain
3. Tarawera, New Zealand
4. Marathon des Sables, Morocco
5. Mount Fuji, Japan
6. Australia, Australia
7. Lavaredo, Italy
8. The Western States, USA
9. Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, France, Italy, Switzerland
10. Diagonal of Fools, Reunion Island, France
Reunion Island stages dozens of local races every year, giving athletes from the island ample opportunity to train and be fit to master the challenges thrown at them when racing at the other 9 world venues, spanning from February to December every year. The major ones are shown below, although the list could be extended massively, with details available from Reunion Island Tourism (IRT).
Starting in February, the Trail of English - 26 kilometers at 1,500 meters of elevation gain - kicks off the sporting year before in April when the Caldeira Trail - 75 km at 6,500 meters of elevation gain - is run. In May, the Geranium - 15 kilometers at 1,300 meters of elevation gain – is held; in June, the Rainbow - Ciel - 63 kilometers at 3,500 meters of elevation gain is held; and in August, the Cimasalazienne - 55 kilometers at 3,800 meters of elevation gain - are all major races by any standard.
However, it is in October when the world of ultra-runners comes to the island, participating in the main races:
• Grand Raid - 163 kilometers at 9,920 meters of elevation gain
• Bourbon Trail - 93 kilometers at 5,200 meters of elevation gain
• Mascarene – 67 kilometers
In November, the Kalla Nescafé - 15 kilometers at 900 meters of elevation gain - takes place, followed by the Mafate Trail Tour - 65 kilometers at 3,000 meters of elevation gain - and the December race, Transdimitile - 32 kilometers at 1,750 meters of elevation gain - concludes the year’s races on Reunion Island.
This activity is a major tourism segment for the island, as visitors from around the world travel to Reunion Island to either watch, cheer on, or participate in person, rightly taking the island to the top of global adventure sport destinations.