A record-breaking Andorra Ultra Trail Vallnord
The expected and exciting arrival of the last runners of Eufòria (233 km and 20,000 m+) in Ordino, after a race lasting more than 111 hours, marked the end of the 11th Andorra Ultra Trail Vallnord. Once again this year, 2,833 runners from among the 3,339 initially registered enjoyed the mountains of Andorra on one of the five races and two walks. This is a record number of participants which consolidates, yet again this year, this event on the worldwide trail running calendar.
There was a record number of participants and also of countries represented. Runners from 51 countries were on the starting line, with new nationalities this year such as Guadalupe, Morocco, Algeria, Monaco, Taiwan, Colombia and Latvia, without forgetting the countries which never fail to attend: France and Spain, followed by Portugal and Japan.
After 10 editions, this year Lidia Martínez took over from her parents, Gerard Martínez and Valérie Lafleur, and her debut could not have been more successful. “We are very happy about how everything went: a fully committed team, volunteers always willing to give their all, sponsors giving us their support, good weather and loyal, international runners delighted with the experience of the adventure”, explained Martínez. “The last few days have been intense as regards personal improvement, emotions and solidarity among the runners. That is what we are looking for, to build a country and to build a family with the mountains as the main features!”
Sweat, tears and many smiles
There is a story behind each runner, just as there is a story behind each race. This year, once again, many emotions, smiles and tears were intermingled on the finish line, and there was also time for what is becoming the traditional marriage proposal, as also occurred in the previous edition.
Because the Andorra Ultra Trail Vallnord is more than just a race. This was explained by one of the winners of Eufòria, José Manuel Rodríguez, who paired up with his cousin Mario Rodríguez, both ultra trail fans. “In this race there are good times and bad times, but the scenery is spectacular; it is beautiful”. And by one of the participants in the Marató who, after a 10-hour race, said: “the atmosphere at the refreshment posts was amazing; the volunteers gave you everything that you needed and really looked after you, like a family”.
Indeed, one of the finishers of the Marató, who is 73 years old, said that he had run in 800 marathons over his life. Because there is a great deal of effort and achievement involved in the Andorra Ultra Trail Vallnord. There is also time for humour, such as the anecdote of Salvador Vilalta, who came third in Eufòria together with his partner Nerea Martínez, and who, in order to ease the tough ascent after passing the Margineda aid station (km 88), told jokes together with another couple on the race.
5 races, 1.349 finishers
At 2:30 a.m. on the Saturday, the first finishers crossed the finish line in Ordino. They were the Rodríguez cousins, from Madrid. José Manuel and Mario, fans of ultra trails for years. It was not the first time that they were in Andorra and that they were participating in the AUTV, although it was the first time that they won one of the races, in this case Eufòria. They completed it in a time of 67h29’28”, followed by the Catalans Albert Vilardell and Miquel Pera (74h17’18’’) and the mixed couple formed by Salvador Vilalta and Nerea Martínez (75h08’58”).
In the Ronda dels cims, the key competition of 170 km and 13,500 m+, the Basque Silvia Ainhoa Trigueros established a new record for the race (34h21’23”), which until now was held by Nerea Martínez, leaving her two pursuers well behind. In the men’s category, the victory was for Sergio Luis Tejero, with 30h21’15”, just 20″ from the record.
As for the races which began at night, the Mític (Friday at 10 p.m.) and the Celestrail (Saturday at midnight), which took place by the light of the full moon, in the former, of 112 km and 9,700 m+, the winner was Víctor del Águila (18h46’33”) and in the women’s category the Andorran Sabrina Solana (23h10’48”). In the 83 km and 5,000 m+ race, Claudia Tremps was first to reach the finish line in 14h01’13”, together with the Portuguese Tiago Cantante Romao with a time of 10h34’12”.
Finally, in the Marató, which began on Saturday at 8 a.m., Albert Escales (4h41’26”) and the New Zealand citizen Caitlin Fielder (5h46’26”) took top place on the podium.
Overall, 2,170 finishers, in the five races and two walks, crossed the finish line. During the five days over which the different races were held, the weather respected all of the runners. Just a few isolated storms without any danger and a few showers fell on Wednesday and Thursday. At the weekend sun and heat were at the fore.
Solidarity, a key value
Solidarity, companionship and sacrifice can be felt in each of the races of the Andorra Ultra Trail Vallnord, even more so in the two walks accessible for everyone: the Tamarro (2.5 km), a novelty this year, and the Solidaritrail (10 km).
Once again this year, 831 participants, families, children and adults, could participate in these two trials, forming a great celebration of enthusiasm and smiles. There were also Joëlettes to allow people with a disability to also enjoy the mountains.
During the weekend, simultaneously, Solidaritrails also took place all over the world in collaboration with NGOs which work with groups of children and young people at risk of social exclusion. In Bolivia with Cooperand, Nicaragua with Música para vivir, Madagascar with Aigua de Coco and Nepal with Mountaineers for Himalayas.
The organization moreover donated €4 for each finisher of the race to the NGOs involved in the AUTV. Overall, there was a total of €6,610 in donations for Acción Social y Logística (ASL), Cooperand and Asociación de Afectados de Autismo de Andorra (AUTEA).
The volunteers, one big family
One of the aspects which transform the trial into more than just a race is the work of the volunteers. Over the last five years, more than 430 people have gone out of their way to offer the best service possible to all the participants. They have supported them and looked after their safety. The trial also counted on 70 professionals, including doctors, emergency personnel, chiropodists and physiotherapists distributed at the different refreshment posts.
Each refreshment post and control point had a person in charge who was in direct contact with the control centre in order to coordinate all the athletes from the first to the last. On some occasions, the controls and the refreshment points were open for up to 30 hours, with the necessary logistics that this entails. The many tasks undertaken by the volunteers over the last few days included checking the route markers, since the animals grazing eat or step on the flags, and coordinating the helicopter to ensure the arrival of food, drinks and all the material necessary at most of the refreshment points. They also encouraged all of the participants, both at good and at bad times.
Once again Ordino and the whole of Andorra were focused on a new edition of the Andorra Ultra Trail Vallnord, transforming both the start line and the finish line into a meeting point with enthusiasm, effort, happiness and a great deal of dreams come true.