Valle del Genal Trail Race 2017 Race Report

The 2017 edition of the ‘Trail Gran Vuelta Valle del Genal’ took place on Sunday 28 October, 2017. A very ‘hilly’ race of 51+km and around 3,000m of climbing.

Genal-Valley-Trail-Race-Logo-BannerArrival

After almost two hours of driving I arrived in Farajan at 8am, an hour before race start.

Farajan is a small village nestled in the mountains of the Valle Genal (Genal Valley). I had heard great things about this lesser-known part of Spain and was extremely excited about this race.

Out of Practice?

With the exception of two events back in June (a team fell race relay and an obstacle course event, both on the same weekend) I hadn’t had much race experience before the Genal Trail Race. I had participated in two local races earlier this month to remind me what it was like to ‘race’ again; the first, a 10km road race in my home town of Alhaurin de la Torre, and the next being the fantastic 30km Trail Ciudad de Malaga in the Montes de Malaga.

My training all year has been consistent but relaxed, mixing running, cycling, CrossFit, and most recently a lot of walking. Consequentially, I was expecting to suffer a lot during the 50+km, mainly with the 3,000m of projected climbing!

Registration

I went to collect my dorsal (race number) and timing chip, but the staff at registration couldn’t find my details. Stupidly, I had forgotten to even sign up to the event, but with great fortune, the race director allowed me to pay on the day and I was quickly issued with an impromptu race bag, number and timing chip. With less than 20 minutes to spare I rushed back to the car, got ready, and made my way back to the start line.

Start!

The small plaza was incredibly busy and I had to settle for a place at the back of the race pack. As the race began it was extremely difficult to pass other runners due to the narrowness of the trails. It wasn’t until after 7-8km that I could get in to my stride and overtake other runners.

The race started with a 2km descent before an ascent of 800m over 5.5km. It was tough, with most sections forcing a hike rather than actually running.

I love the races over here. Everyone gets so animated and excited. There are so many surprises along the way. A violinist plugged in to an amplifier played dramatic music as runners reached the 1,158m summit of Jardon. I had never seen that before!

The Violinist at Jardon

 

I filled up my bottle with water before continuing, the trail now levelling out to flat terrain and gradual descents. The sun had come up and there were incredible views of thick cloud below the mountains as far as the eye could see.

The first ascent

Pujerra

The descent ended in the beautiful village of Pujerra. The best moment of the day came after refuelling at the checkpoint and making my way out of the village, where all of the local kids were lined up shouting words of encouragement and holding their hands out for high-fives as runners passed them. It was the best mental booster before the next 3km, ascending over 300m back to over 1,000m.

Igualeja

Some tricky, technical descents followed, then a longer descent on tarmac which eventually brought us in to Igualeja. After 25km of running in the heat, I was hungry and thirsty and I filled up a lot at this checkpoint. They had some amazing chocolate that I presumed to be locally made.

Parauta

Over the next 10km I really felt comfortable with the terrain, with my form, and with the weather. I was most prolific on the off-road descents and found myself moving ahead of people regularly. While many runners stopped in Parauta, I quickly ate a banana while my bottle was filled and left quickly.

Cartijama

At Cartajima, after 35km, my day went in to rapid decline. Instead of drinking water I drank Aquarius, and enjoyed it so much that I decided to fill my water bottle with it as well. Shortly after, I endured major stomach cramps. It felt as though my stomach was being crushed inside my body and I craved water to flush my system out.

Los Riscos

Reduced to walking, slowly, one by one, runners started to pass me. I felt dreadful during the 3km section around the mountain of Los Riscos. There was no shade and I felt close to fainting. At 39.5km I needed to sit down for 10 minutes before resuming my ‘walk’.

The remainder of the race followed similarly. Every so often a runner would pass by, see me walking, and ask ‘?todo bien?. It was a complete slog.

The descent through the valley en route to Juzcar was a massive highlight. The hills all coming down horizontally to the valley floor, the beautiful blue skies, the sound of rushing water, of birds… It was incredible. Some sections required a rope to get up or down and other paths were treacherously slippery.

Juzcar

Juzcar itself was a surprise. I had seen this village many time before, its fame being that it is the ‘Smurf Village’, where all the houses are painted blue. In photos it looks hideous, but in the flesh, the walls are more a pastel blue, and less offensive.

I cursed when I saw that I still had 6.7km to go, mainly ascending, back to Farajan. I think I averaged about 5 swear words per minute trudging to the finish line.

I managed to break into a slow running pace towards the end, and it was great to have my family greet me at the end, ready to spend the remainder of the weekend exploring Ronda.

Avoiding the the post-race interview with Chico Speaker

Valle Genal Trail Race In Summary

Overall though, what a race! Organisation was first-class, location incredible, check-points were perfect, the people (both organisers and the general public) were the nicest, most encouraging people one could ever meet.

The 51.9km took me 7 hours, 7 minutes to complete, and I finished 44th place finish out of 374 finishers. I was a whopping 2 hours, 11 minutes behind the winner (Dani Roman), who completed the course in less than 5 hours! What a performance from him!

The ‘free stuff’ that came with the race was the best I had ever had as well, comprising of: A very high-quality running shirt from Sural, compression calf guards from Sural, a gel, and some chewing gum. After finishing, I received a medal, another t-shirt, plus some great food and beer. All in all, the race wasn’t cheap at 45 Euros, but all of this plus the quality of the race, the checkpoints, etc, more than made it value for money.

Next: Sierra Bermeja Trail

There are so many races on my doorstep in Andalusia (the next one being the Trail Sierra Bermeja at the end of November) but I would love to come back next year with a stronger performance in the Valle Genal Trail!

Elevation Profile – Genal Valley Trail Race 2017

Map – Genal Valley Trail Race 2017

Genal Valley Trail Race links:

Race Results via Runedia

Strava Fly-by

Official Gran Vuelta Genal website

 

Ciudad Malaga Trail Race links

Results for the II Malaga Ciudad Trail Race (7 October 2017)

Ciudad Malaga Trail official website

 

“Carrera Soliraria” 10km Alhaurin de la Torre links

Results for the Alhaurin de la Torre 10k Race (1 October 2017)

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