Trail Running is a sport full of challenges and sensations in which you must really be aware of your limits and your capabilities. This is a good reason to carry it out in a place that offers boundless possibilities the way Tenerife does. This island, with all its varied landscape and unique scenery brings together the ideal conditions for trail running: a climate with mild temperatures all year round, routes for all levels, trails both dirt and paved that cross landscapes as extreme as the sport itself – forests, mountains, rocky cliffs and volcanic crests.
Yesterday we explored one of its trails that leads through the green centre of the island in the protected environment of La Caldera, accompanied by one of the best and most experienced trail runners on the island, Marnix. With more than twenty years of experience in this sport, he knows every single trail and path the island offers for a good and technical trail run. For me, as someone who is only used to running normal streets and running routes, he has chosen a trail that suits me perfectly.
We started our trip to the running route near the crossing of the main street T21, la Carretera del Teide, leading to Aguamansa. At the point where the street crosses another street leading uphill to the picnic area called La Zona Recreativa in La Caldera, we parked the car and followed the first hiking trail signs. The red-white trail blazing which Marnix chose for today appeared straight away and led us downhill on a rocky path through the dense pine forest. That’s where my first challenge started.
This narrow path was packed with stones and big rocks. Every step I made required a lot of attention. We started with good speed, due to the quite steep downhill. Jumping from one side to the other, on a bigger rock, down on a pile of leaves, over little pits, sandy soil and back to the rocks, all my muscles were tensed. Compared to the normal street running style I am used to, I could feel straight away that this was going to be a complete body workout. Never had I had to focus so much in where to put the next foot while running. If you don´t concentrate, the chance to slip and fall on this trail is quite high, which increased my adrenaline level a lot. Anyways, I realized quite fast, that the faster I run, the easier it was to keep my body balance and therefore have better control when jumping over obstacles.
The soil was changing constantly, from soft to hard, from sandy to slightly muddy…many different up and down parts demanded sometimes more and sometimes less physical effort – it felt like perfect cardio training. Pushing to raise your pulse then slowing it down again…
The fresh air and the sunlight that found its ways through the branches created the perfect atmosphere and climate for our run. The cold fresh air running through our lungs was giving us that extra kick and serving as a kind of a wakeup call in the early hours of the day. Well prepared for lower temperatures, the sun was warm enough to leave the long sleeves and neck warmers home! That’s the perfect climate for a run like that.
Arriving at the first “barranco” we had to cross, we rested a minute to enjoy the beautiful landscape and to chat a bit. Marnix was carefully explaining everything I needed to know for that trail, giving me advice regarding running and jumping techniques, speed and hydration control and a lot more information about the whole area and its possibilities for trail running.
After the first 5 km and two barrancos (river beds and ravines) later, I could already tell that I had fallen in love with the sport. We arrived at a beautiful open glade and caught the view up to the Teide volcano. Halfway through the route started leading us in a circle around the forestal area, back to a wider hiking trail, up and down the hill towards the starting point. The variety of terrain along this route was amazing. Changing surroundings and different paths makes it easy to forget the time and the length of the whole track.
In total we ran 10.8 km in under an hour. Perfect weather conditions, a trail leading through a protected environment of pine and eucalyptus trees, magnificent views of the Teide and a professional guide made my first trail run a blast!