The Azores Trail Run is best combining nature and sports on Faial. For the first time held in 2014, the trail run is one of the major sports events in Faial. Meanwhile there are more than 700 runners from all over the world participating in 7 races from kids run to 118km ultra marathon with 5500m ascent. The Faial event triggered a trail running boom in the Azores and there are events on almost all the islands. Besides the big race, which is meanwhile part of the Ultra Trail World Tour Discovery series, each village of Faial has its individual events throughout the year.The Azores Trail Run for sure also contributed to our decision to move here. Not that I am a very ambitious runner, but out of a mood I decided five years ago to participate in the 42km race. The first try was not successful, amid very bad weather, heavy winds, rain blowing up the mountain and knee pains I had had to abandon the race after 30km.
But I was back in 2018 and I finished just within the time limit of 10 hours, this year I even improved my pace despite the lack of preparation due to our moving. The 42km race follows largely the Faial Coast to Coast hiking trail which crosses the island from Riberinha in the east, up to the Caldeira and down again until reaching the volcano of Capelinhos at the westernmost point of Faial. The track leads through the pastures of Pedro Miguel, giving the feeling of being somewhere in the alps, only the cowbells are missing from the cows. On top it circles the Caldeira of Faial, reaching it highest point just below Cabeço Gordo at almost 1000 meters above sea level. Then on the north down to the abandoned Levada, a water line built to supply water to a power station but destroyed in the earthquake of 1998. This is the most enchanting part of the route, if there were dinosaurs around, one could mistake it for Jurassic Park. Down to the finish line in the volcanic ash covered Capelinhos, there are numerous smaller and bigger volcano cones to climb and descend – really tough after almost 40km and 2000m total ascent.