Al-Andalusia 230km Multi Day Event
Report by Paul Morgan
Ray Raper took part in the 11th edition of the Al-Andalusia 230km, 5 day trail run between the 8th and the 12th July.
The race is designed to take into account the hot and sunny weather that the south of Spain is renowned for with day one starting at 9.30am, leaving Loja and heading to Alhama De Granada with 2000 m of climb in the first 10K. Each day the majority of running or walking, (a lot of walking) as the climbs and heat affects every body. The distance of day one is similar to the Wedge without the mud.
Day 2 is a longer day around 32miles, sorry for mixing up miles and KM, it is probably the most technical of days taking competitors around a huge gorge near to the small town of Jatar again lots of big climbs although a little more shade. The scenery is stunning with mountains never far away and amazing lakes in the distance. Each day is punctuated with check points at around 6 miles with amazing staff offering some shade water, Coke and ice with iced towels if wanted. The event this year was hot but not the dangerous heat of 2016 and particularly 2017 although there was a sting in the tail which I will come to. Day 2 finished at a remote camp site near Jatar.
Day 3 similar distance to day one and known as the fast day as there are sorry to say some chunks of tarmac although there is a big climb through the national park to an airfield, which although desolate is still used for aircraft to control any fires that break out. Ray at this point still going well although I have always said he is good for three days. So day three finishes in Jayena and another remote check point but with the advantage of the organisers putting on Paella and beer, no problem for Mr Raper on the latter.
Day 4 The long day. Just as competitors are feeling the effect of three days in the sun day 4 comes along 42.5 miles. Up to now the weather has been reasonably kind to the runners but not now the sun is out and it is hot. Ray sets off well and after checkpoint 1 a lovely run around an amazing lake before heading out onto the dusty trails with the sun beating down. Ray is out for about 10 hours and I ran out to meet him and the mild mannered man I know so well was anything but. First words muttered I need a beer, knowing that is one thing that I could organise. To give you all some idea of Ray’s determination he walked 15 miles that day with the temperature in the high 30’s. Finishing on day 4 was again in Alhama but at a different location close to a bar and a pool.
Day 5 again around Wedge distance leaves Alhama and takes the runners through the famous gorge of Alhama, through the town and then up into the hills and trails with the finish back in Loja where the celebrations can begin. Ray had recovered some what from the ordeal of day 4, I think the beer did actually help and again I ran out to meet him and then ran the last 6 miles with him and at this point he was going well.
Ray finished in 18th place and the oldest person to ever complete the event and with regards to the finishers, with the favourite pulling out on day 4 the overall winner was a lady which was a first for this event and for me it proves that in many cases us men can learn a lot from pace management which the winner had in spades.
For me Ray showed that age really is just a number and being from Yorkshire is more important.