Trail Running in Spain
Abdet is the ideal base with a wide variety of trails to enjoy amidst spectacular scenery, a few of our runs include a visit to the highest peak in Valencia Province (Sierra Aitana) which lies directly to the South of the village.
It is possible to train all year around, in warmer weather we set of before dawn from the village in the clear mountain air and run through the sunrise until things start to get hot around midday! Then we relax the rest of the day in a local canyon or pool. You are sure to enjoy the never to be forgotten experience of a night run under stunning star lit skies!
This article first appeared in the Fellrunner Magazine in 2014. It described the joy of running in a relatively undiscovered area of Europe.
Fell running is a great way to travel through any landscape, but if you are not careful you can get stuck in a groove repeating the same routes time after time. It's good to get of the beaten track, and over the last year I have been fortunate to spend quite a few weeks running and exploring the paths, tracks and mountain ridges in the Spanish Costa Blanca. Linking old footpaths, forgotten mule tracks and ancient trading routes amidst spectacular scenery, and of course without mud or rain! Besides getting fitter I have also learnt about an extraordinary landscape (so different from the UK), the diverse and exotic wildlife and plant life, and some fascinating history.
Descending can be hard work! Your quads can get very tired and on long runs the build up of fatigue from descents can be very dibilitating. If you are lucky, or choose a good line you might benefit from a scree descent. It is possible to loose height and move very quickly with minimal effort on good scree, but you will need to practise.
Good scree for descending is uniform and almost like gravel. It will flow down the hill as you move, but be aware in frosty weather wet scree can set hard and be quite unpleasant.
A confident approach allows you to relax and keep upright!. As the size of the stones increases the difficulty of descending also increases, and you are more likely to twist an ankle, fall over or bruise your shins and ankles.
Here is a list of required and optional items for a running holiday. Please feel free to ask us if you are unsure about any item of equipment, but as always it is a good idea to have used all your basic equipment before your holiday - especially shoes and clothing.
(26 kms, 1300 metres of ascent) - with shorter 16km option
A short drive brings us to this epic run starting with a warm up through idyllic pine forest before a tough 600 metre ascent alongside the incredible limestone cliffs of the Ponoche (the sleeping lion). The view from the top of the climb of the dramatic peak of the Puig Campana and the Mediterranean sea are ample reward for the effort expended. Next a superb traverse for 2kms before crossing into the Valleys of Tranquility (an area of Buddhist retreats).
A short refuelling break here will allow you to take in the vistas over the forests and rugged mountain scenery before continuing on the varied route of paths and tracks with a couple of shorter climbs before the final 7kms of mainly downhill running complete the circuit. Afterwards we can visit the historic town of Polop for a cold drink (even a beer!) before returning to Abdet.
25kms 1200 metres of ascent (shorter 20km option available)
This amazing run visits a spectacular area of huge rock pinnacles high on a Costa Blanca mountain side, the Monks Towers or Agulles Frares. Your visit to these unique features will be one of the highlights of your trail running holiday! We start up Sombria Solara , the valley of sun and shade. If it;s hot we'll pick the shady side! Then we climb up through the V notch to gain access to the tracks and trails on the Southern Flanks of Serrella. After refilling our bottles at the Font Roja we traverse around to the amazing hillside covered in bizarre and weirdly shaped pinncales, it's worth taking a few pictures here and taking in the breathtaking rock scenery.
28kms - 1400 metres ascent
A long and rewarding day out on the Serrella ridge. The easy start along the rural road down to the reservoir means you get a few kilometres done before the first big climb of 2,000 feet (600 metres). Whilst heading up the zig zag track to the ridge look for the the castle of Serrella perched on the impressive fin of rock above you. It's worth making a detour of a couple of hundred metres up to the castle remains with it's level grassy surface that is perfect for a picnic! You will also find a remarkably intact water tank, still holding water many centuries after it was built. Descending from the castle you will see the unusual valley of Mala de Llop ahead of you. It looks like a glacial feature, but is just a trough between two massive ridges of limestone. It's scale is very deceptive as it is over 1km in length. As you descend into this valley you can't fail to be impressed by the massive rock walls on either side as you climb the 1,000 feet (300 metres) to the col at the head of the valley.
20kms 1400 metres of ascent
A challenging mountain run with some good sections of easier trail running to start and finish. This run has it all! A long steady ascent from Abdet (600 metres) up to the highpoint of around 1350 metres at Serrella Summit. Then the fun begins! Weave your way through the bizzare porcupine plants (Cactus Garden) and then make the descent to a fresh water spring to replenish your water supplies. Next (after another stiff ascent!) you will visit the Serrella Arches, an intriguing rock feature along with ancient cave paintings. which you can explore. Just beyond is one of the best bits of mountain running you will ever do - the Serella Rock Elevator, an 850 foot (250 metre) scree descent that just keeps on going!
25kms 1300 metres of ascent. (shorter 16km option possible)
This run starts from Abdet and visits the highest point in all of Valencia, passing some ancient snow wells on the way. In February and early March the almond blossom lights up the terraces. You will also run through delightful cherry orchards before the steep final climb to the Aitana Summit before a run past some amazing rock crevasses. We stay on the crest of the mountain on good trails for a few kiomteres before making our descent off the summit plateau. The excitement is far from over though as next comes the superb Boulder Field Trail section, a well graded trail through a jumble of massive boulders!
Passing more impressive cliffs the descent continues and we weave our way down through the terraces before the final treat of the impressive hidden limestone canyon just a few 100 metres from Abdet.
- Above the clouds Above the clouds
- Great weather for running Great weather for running
- Africa Arch Africa Arch
- On the Aitana Summit - highest point in Valencia On the Aitana Summit - highest point in Valencia
- Bernia Trail Running Bernia Trail Running
- Full of energy on a beautiful Costa Blanca morning Full of energy on a beautiful Costa Blanca morning
- Descent from Aitana Ridge Descent from Aitana Ridge
- Spring flowers on the secret Sanchet Circuit Spring flowers on the secret Sanchet Circuit
- Limestone pavement Limestone pavement
- Poppies near Sella Poppies near Sella
- The Tancat Gorge - a great section of trail The Tancat Gorge - a great section of trail
We don't just run in the Spanish mountains, we also do a lot of trail running in the UK in the summer months. Although usually much cooler than Spain the UK can get hot at times, and here is an idea for those balmy summer days in the English Lake District.
- Start - Thirlmere
- Finish - Grasmere
- Distance - 20 miles
- Ascent - 4,500 feet