Here are my thoughts on the race called « Diagonale Des Fous », staged on Reunion Island. The race didn’t go as planned because I had the flu going right into the race and nausea forced me to withdraw from the race fairly early. Unfortunately I did not get the full experience of the race. But even the small portion of the race I did get to experience was something to remember.
The race starts in the town of St.Pierre at 9pm. The start line is absolutely electric with thousands of spectators and thousands of other runners. The streets are lined with entertainers from fire dancers to live music. It quickly became apparent that the people of Reunion know how to throw a good party. The first few kilometers are relatively flat and along the coast but it quickly becomes challenging as the course heads inland and starts getting into steep forested slopes and rocky paths. The challenge of climbing up the steep technical ascents is one thing. But the technical descents are like nothing I’ve ever experienced. They are without a doubt, the hardest descending I have ever done.
Although I only got to experience a fraction of the course on race day, I did manage to explore the island later in the week. The scenery here is spectacular, particularly Piton De Neige, and the Piton La Fournaise . The Piton Des Neige is part of the course and it’s the highest point of the island sitting at 3070 meters, it rises into the clouds and offers stunning views of surrounding peaks and the Indian ocean. The Piton La Fournaise is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and I had the opportunity to hike along the extensive lava fields to gain access to trails along the crater rim and it gave me views into the volcanic crater!
Reunion island is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts! I spent the next week hiking in the mountains and relaxing on the beach. The people here are incredibly friendly and extremely patient with my very limited french. Despite having to drop out of the Diagonale des Fous I had an amazing experience on Reunion thanks to the partnership between Grand Raid and Mega Trail. I am looking forward to coming back and to experiencing La Diagonale Des Fous in its entirety.