A day at the races in Moclín, Andalucia, Spain
The Ultra Trail Spain running holiday crew has enjoyed a day at the races. Well, it would have been rude not to, since the start line was a mere 200m from our door.
The Granada area CXM (cross mountain) series came to Moclin on 30 October with a Mini-Trail, Trail and Senderista (walk). The series, limited to only selected towns with the best trails and mountains, runs from March until December with races decidedly tough. These are never fast runs. The Mini-Trail and Trail races are always hotly contested however, with league points awarded, and today was no different.
The Moclín race was originally scheduled a month or so earlier, but due to another race having to change its date the Moclín race was bumped until later. The weather was amazing, and perhaps a little hot knocking 30C in the ravines, with bright sunshine from the off. Turnout was strong, and at 10am around 200 brave souls gathered on the uphill start-line.
Tough trail race
Uphill was to be a theme for the race with a nearly 3km ascent from the start. Within a km we were onto trail though and vying for position before the first descent.
Neither Steve nor I were fighting for a finish place; we were out to enjoy a day in brilliant sunshine. He was doing the 12km Mini-Trail and I’d opted for the longer 25km Trail – town officials were keen to get local runners out and running and we’d had our orders.
Hitting 4km and we’d already been dropping for a kilometre with more to come as we switched back and forth through dappled pine forest on steep and tricky trail. Keen to preserve my quads, I was taking it steady as Steve slid past.
A few local ladies trotted past, as I shouted to them to keep left – the track was easier on the legs – and we were bursting out into the olive groves and heading to the first checkpoint. I was hot on Steve’s heels passing him just after he’d crossed the river and was heading into Moclín’s gorge. We all headed through the gorge, over the swing bridge (bouncy with multiple runners pounding over), alongside the river and up the gorge trail. Powering up, and poles down, I passed several runners.
Reaching the gorge top, us Trail runners headed right and the Mini-Trailers went left. Down towards the old mill, we crossed the road and headed up towards one of Moclín’s famous Atalayas (watchtowers). A steep ascent and I overtook a couple of women. Dropping across high olive groves we crossed back over the road and headed uphill into a nearby village and the second water stop. Taking a bit longer to fill my tummy on banana, sweets and raisins, I was soon back on trail before hitting the longest uphill of the day. It’s a walker-poles-down slog. Here I caught one of our neighbours and exchanged a few words as we weaved our way up and up and up. Passing him on the last bit of up, I knew he’d soon be passing me on the 2km plus downhill.
He was quickly charging past, followed by a couple of the women – very much on a mission – I’d passed heading up. Very soon, there wasn’t a soul in sight and I was steadily trotting down on my tod.
Finally reaching flat/ uphill olive grove, I knew I was into the last 6km or so and could push on a bit to get it finished. Filling up with water at the last water station, I ran down the senderista – my all-time favourite piece of trail in Moclín.
Crossing back over the suspension bridge, and it was basically uphill all the way to the finish line. Sticks down, I pushed on overtaking fatigued runner after runner. The day was hot and the trail was taking its toll.
The final push
Reaching the top of the gorge pass, I re-caught our running neighbour, exchanged a few words and made the final push up through the pine forest. Poles down and power walking – I could feel the eyes of other stick-less runners boring into my back.
Reaching the chapel track, runners were pushed right, up and over rocks onto a narrow track weaving through the forest behind the castle. I know it and knew there was just a km to go at the top. Shooting back into sunlight, I was soon onto the road and running down into Moclín, unfortunately runners then turned a corner to finish and, you guessed it, uphill! Crossing the line, I was informed I was 4th woman home overall.
Prize-giving and I headed to the podium three times for 1st local woman and 1st senior woman. (I’m veteran next year, so won’t be getting used to it!)