In 15 days’ time I'll be lined up on the start line of my toughest challenge yet - the 20th running of the Grand Raid de la Réunion.
Nicknamed La Diagonale des Fous (the diagonal of madmen), this 100 miler cuts a diagonal course from south to north across the Indian Ocean island of Réunion. The extremely technical 162km route boasts it all, from volcanoes and volcanic craters (calderas), to dense forest, mud, rivers, waterfalls, altitude, heat and humidity, this race is about distance, difficulty and digging deep.
It's said to be one of the toughest 100 milers on the planet. Results of previous years provide a stark comparison with equally well established but far more runnable 100 milers on the international calendar, like Western States and Leadville, and put this one into perspective: in 2011 Kilian Jornet won the WS100 in 15:34, and yet it took him more than seven hours longer to win the Grand Raid the previous year (23:17). That really says it all!
It’s a scary prospect, and I’m frighteningly excited – this promises to be trail running at its extreme.
Click on this link to check out the geography of Réunion: Google Earth view of Réunion