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Madeira Island Ultra Trail

By masterblaster on Sat, 04/12/2014 - 14:47 in Running

Thanks to Carlos Jorge Silva, Benjamin Dunand and Débora Silva for the photos!


A quick feed back about my participation, last Saturday (April 12th 2014), on the Madeira Island Ultra Trail - MIUT (115km & 6800m D+). From all the races that i've done in these passed 6 years, the MIUT will always stay in my memory as the most amazing, fabulous and breathtaking trail that I've ever done. And I say this after doing only 70km of the race (I had to quit due to an injury on my knee), if I had finished the race, my opinion would be for sure even better :-)

Madeira Island Ultra Trail 2014 Madeira Island Ultra Trail 2014 Madeira Island Ultra Trail 2014 Madeira Island Ultra Trail 2014

The paths are so technical that you must stay focused all the time (uphill and downhill). The climbs are so steep that most of them have stairs, stairs and more stairs :-) The Levadas (Madeira's water channels) are so beautiful that running along them makes you relax at the same time. The views of the Madeira mountains are simply incredible and the traverse between Pico Ruivo and Pico do Areeiro is one of the best trail runnings paths that I've ever ran.

Talking a bit more about the race:
We started at 00h00 in Porto Moniz (in the Northwest corner of the island). Ahead of us we had 115km and 6800m D+ to get to Machico, in the Southeast side of Madeira.

The race starts with a very steep climb in a concrete road. It's so steep that it's impossible to run. In less than 18' you climb 350m D+. The descent on the other side of the mountain was not easier either as the path is very technical. It's better to go slowly and save you ankles.
After 30' i got to Ribeira da Janela where a lot of people is there waiting for and cheering the athletes.

The 1st big climb arrived. From Ribeira da Janela to Fanal it's 1200m D+ and 13,5km. I was in a nice group with Benjamin and Lourens and we manage to talk and laugh for a bit.
The climb is steep with lots of stairs. In the middle of the climb we had to follow a Levada dos Cedros during 5km. It was very pleasant moment during the night. At 02h12 I reached Fanal (1st Assistance Point) with João Marinho. I stopped only for a few seconds to fill my bottle and I left immediately to start the long way down to Chão da Ribeira.

This descent to Chão da Ribeira (900 D-) was considered by the organisation as the most technical and we should be very precautious, specially because we were still in the middle of the night. All was going ok till the moment that my head torch decided to fail. It's crap these new "Petzl Nao" head torches… one day they last 7 hours and in another they last only 2h30. I had a spare battery and thanks to this I was able to continue.

At Chão da Ribeira, another quick stop to fill the bottles (special thanks to Ni Perdigão and the other girls for the cheers) and it was time to start the 2nd big climb of the day. 1300m D+ to Estanquinhos. When I was leaving the Assitance Point, Sidónio arrived as a Speedy Gonzalez… :-) he goes down really fast :-)

Going up to Estanquinhos, I joined Joao Marinho and we did almost all this climb together. He's a machine going up. On this climb we overtook 4 other athletes and João was still pushing hard. A little bit before I got to Estanquinhos, I had to leave João go ahead as he was much stronger than me on this climb.

At Estanquinhos (2nd Assistance Point) Nuno and Ricardo were there to cheer me up. Thanks for this. Nuno gave me my bag with some gels and other stuff, I filled my bottle and I left. Ricardo told me also that João was 3' ahead of me.

From Estanquinhos, it's a long way down (1200m D-) and then another 600m D+ climb, to reach the next Assistance Point at Encumeada. This part of the race went really well as I was always crossing some athletes of the other race (MIUT 85). It helps a lot when you see another head torch during the night. Being there in the mountains just on your own for several hours can be very hard on your mind.

When I got to Encumeada I crossed João in the Assistance Point. I must admit that was very surprised to see him there, as he was much stronger than me a couple of hours before. I filled again the bottles, ate some oranges, banana and the 'miraculous' chicken soap (in portuguese Canja de Galinha). I left Encumeada knowing that i was 2 or 3 minutes behind João. Outside the Assistance Point, Sérgio was there and he cheered me up. Thanks Sérgio :-)

From Encumeada I did a small descent to join a flat path that took me to the bottom of the next climb. This flat path was in very good conditions and it was good to 'run' properly for a while. The next climb was not very long, only 450m D+, but it went really fast, for 2 reasons:
1. the sun was rising in the horizon… and it was finally possible to enjoy the amazing views of the Madeira mountains.
2. i managed to catch João ;-)
We finished the climb together and we went down to Curral das Freiras. Another steep descent (600m D-) in a very technical path.

At 8h24 we reached the Curral das Freiras Assistance Point.

Mimi and my father were there to cheer me up and to give me some assistance. It's always nice and warm to get a hug and a kiss! After a 5' break, we headed for the last BIG climb of the MIUT, 1200m D+ to reach Madeira highest point, Pico Ruivo. But I when Ieft the Assistance Point and started running I felt a small pain on the exterior side of my right knee. Not a good sign.
Once again João was very strong uphill, but I decided to stay with him.
According with the strategy that me and Paulo Pires (the coach) chose for the MIUT, it was from here that I would start going stronger. I would push hard in this climb, then do a nice traverse from Pico Ruivo to Pico do Areeiro and then go strong again in the last 40km (almost of of them are downhill).

After 45' of climb, João wasn't feeling very well and he stopped. I left him behind and continued to the top.
The end of the Pico Ruivo climb is a bit long as it isn't very steep. The path has plenty of small ups and downs. But as soon as I did the 1st small descent, the pain of my knee hit me again, but this time harder. I knew exactly what this pain was, as I had a similar pain 6 years ago: the tendinitis of the Fascia Lata (

I knew immediately that my race was finished. It took me another 35' to get to the Pico Ruivo Assistance Point. A nurse from the organisation was there and she gave a small massage and she applied a spray (in portuguese "Spray Milagroso"). But this time there was no miracle for me. I had to quit.

As Mimi and my father were waiting for me in Pico do Areeiro, I decided to do this traverse (Pico Ruivo - Pico do Areeiro) to join them. With the help of my poles and motivated by the beauty of the views, I managed to get there.
At the Assistance Point, a doctor diagnosticated my knee and he confirmed my expectations: a small inflammation of the external ligament and of the Fascia Lata tendon.

Now it's time to look back and get some conclusions of this race….
- 1st of all: I will get back for sure to finish this amazing trail, but next time I have to be better prepared as I only ran 15 times in the last 4 months.
- it was a very nice surprise to know that I was in 4th place when I abandoned the race in Pico Ruivo, specially because I was only 45' behind the leader.
- another reason that makes me very happy is the fact that we are in April (still the beginning of the summer/running season) and I managed to do a 65km race with no muscular injuries/pain. It's a very good sign for the future.

To finish I would like to thanks to all the people that organised the MIUT. It was an amazing race, very well organised and with one of the most fabulous itineraries that I've ever seen.
A huge thanks to Nuno Gonçalves for all the assistance.
A very very special thanks to Mimi and my father for waking up so early and be there in Curral das Freiras and Pico do Areeiro.
Another very special thanks to the 'Coach' Paulo Pires, for his advice, wisdom and strategy. Even if i didn't finish the race, I consider it as a huge success, and Paulo, you're part of it.

I would like also to congratulate all the runners that finished the race. Good job!

Specially to Lourens, Armando, Cláudio, Ivo, João Neto, João Marinho, Luis Ferreira, Nélson Sousa e Valter.

Agora SIGA! E venha a próxima! :-)