The Mother of all Ultra Races – where else but on Reunion island


(Posted 21st October 2014)

In two days, from 23rd to 25th of October, will the annual Ultra Trail World Tour come to a conclusion when the final race of the season will take place on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion.

Aptly named the ‘Diagonale des Fous’ perhaps best translated as the cross island race for the most daring (if not outright crazy), is the route taking the runners right through the rugged interior of the island, up and down steep canyons, gorges and valleys.

The main race, the 163 kilometre long Diagonale des Fous, this year has some 2.435 registered participants, many of whom traveled to Reunion from around the world to complete the 10 race calendar, while two ‘lesser’ races, and that is by no means meant in a negative way as completing even those is a major physical challenges, have attracted thousands more. The ‘Bourbon Trail’ of 92 kilometres expects to be run by 1.533 participants while the shortest of the races, the ‘Mascarene’ of 67 kilometres has attracted 1.600 runners.

The ten races this year spread across the world and included some of the best known spots around the globe:

  1. Hong Kong 100, China
  2. Trans Gran Canaria, Spain
  3. Tarawera, New Zealand
  4. Marathon des Sables, Morocco
  5. Mount Fuji, Japan
  6. Australia, Australia
  7. Lavaredo, Italy
  8. The Western States, USA
  9. Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, France, Italy, Switzerland
  10. Diagonal of Fools, Reunion Island, France

Reunion stages dozens of local races every year, giving athletes from the island ample opportunity to train and be fit to master the challenges thrown at them when racing at the other 9 world venues, spanning from February to December every year. The major ones are shown below though the list could be extended massively, with details available from the Ile de la Reunion Tourism office.

Starting in February does the Trail of English – 26 km – 1500 meters of elevation gain kick off the sporting year before in April the Caldeira Trail – 75 km – 6500 meters of elevation gain is run. In May follows the Geranium – 15 km – 1,300 meters of elevation gain, in June the Rainbow – Ciel – 63 km – 3500 meters of elevation gain and in August theCimasalazienne – 55 km – 3800 meters of elevation gain, all major races by any standard.

However it is in October when the world of ultra-runners comes to the island, participating in the main races:

  • Grand Raid – 163 km – 9920 meters of elevation gain
  • Bourbon Trail – 93 km – 5200 meters of elevation gain
  • Mascarene – 67 km –

In November do the Kalla Nescafé – 15 km – 900 meters of elevation gain take place, followed by the Mafate Trail Tour – 65 km – 3000 meters of elevation gain and the December race Transdimitile – 32 km – 1750 meters of elevation gain the concludes the year’s races on Reunion.

This activity is a major tourism segment for the island as visitors from around the world travel to Reunion to either watch, cheer on or in person participate, rightly taking the island to the top of the global adventure sport destinations.

For more information on the Grand Raid.

just click on the above link and for destination information visit

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