The Annual UMSDT Madness

Ultra Mallorca 2015 -5

Someone, a while ago, started an extreme, long-distance mountain challenge event,  somewhere in the Alps. A few dozen fanatics participated in that first endurance event, sometimes dubbed as sky-running. One of the early athletes must have been coming from Mallorca, because soon enough the challenge sports activity was brought to Mallorca, aptly named Ultra Mallorca. Last Saturday, the Mallorcan event held its ninth annual run, this time over three distances: Ultra Mallorca with 112.1 km between Andratx and Pollença along the highs and lows of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains, Trail Mallorca, a shorter distance of 66.8 km from Valldemossa to Pollença, and a Marathon-type distance of 44 km from Sóller to Pollença, called Marathon Mallorca.

Ultra Mallorca 2015 -2

This year, some 2,300 runners participated in the three challenging races against the clock, the inner madman, or madwoman as the case might be, and lastly, the body physics, plagued by blisters, spasms, exhaustion, cramps and some such ailments. The winner over the long distance, Pau Capell Gil from Cataluña, came to the finish with a time of just under 12 hours. The fastest female over this length was Andrea Huser from Switzerland with a time of just over 14 hours.

Ultra Mallorca 2015-2

The middle distance, Trail Mallorca, was won by Paweł Dybek from Poland with a time of six and a half hours. This athlete had been the winner of last year’s long haul. The fastest female was Magdalena Łączak, from the same Polish team as her male colleague, in a fraction over seven hours. Winner of the marathon distance from Sóller to Pollença was Tòfol Castanyer from Sóller with a time of 3:23:18 hours. The winner in the female category was Joana Maria Cañellas Campins in a time of 05:18:41 hours.

Ultra Mallorca 2015 -4

Of the total number of 2,300 runners, an amazing 1,749 participants finished their heroic course well within the allocated times. They may all have suffered their individual aches, pains and maladies as well as utter exhaustion but one can safely assume that their egos were shining like the brightest star on the firmament. Each finisher was awarded a medal. For them, taking part seems to have had an effect of emotional doping, so to speak. Participating was the drug and finishing was the reward.

Until next year, perhaps.

The Annual UMSDT Madness

The Synagogal Anniversary

Synagogues did not exist in Mallorca between 1435 and 1987. The island’s Jewish community had been banished and eradicated twice, first in 1391 and then in 1544, had been massacred, persecuted, chased away, burned at the stake, killed, executed, exiled, expelled or forcibly converted.

In 1987, the first Mallorcan synagogue for 550 years was consecrated. Last week, the Jewish Community in Mallorca celebrated the 25th anniversary of the opening of the synagogue in Palma. The ceremony was attended by various local authorities as well as the President of the Balearic Parliament, Pere Rotger.

Yehei shmëh rabba mevarakh lealam ulalmey almaya (May His great name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity).

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 2nd, 2012. The time was 11:25:16. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Guillem Bosch.

Muchas gracias.

The Synagogal Anniversary

The Truth in Literature

Literature has always been about the conflict between fiction and reality, the clash between the real and the surreal, the relation between the mind and the written word. Some of these arguments will be explored in Formentor from next week on Friday, during the annual Converses Literàries de Formentor 2012 which will take place at the Hotel Formentor from September 14th to 16th.

Ulysses, Hamlet, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina and other important personalities in Literature are the topics of this year’s literary colloquium.

Authors participating in this year’s Literary summit are expected to be Pau Faner, Cristina Fernández Cubas, Jesús Ferrero, Carlos García Gual, Eduardo Gil Bera, Irene Gracia, Leila Guerriero, Gabriel Janer Manila, José María Lassalle, Olga Merino, Ana Maria Moix, Javier Montes, Maria Antònia Oliver, José María Ridao, Carme Riera, Manuel Rodríguez Rivero, Marta Sanz, Fernando Savater, Manuel Vicent, Dario Villanueva. The event will be chaired by Basilio Baltasar.

In 1959, the Spanish author Camilo José Cela gathered a group of literary colleagues at the Conversaciones Poéticas de Formentor in the island’s northern-most mountain range. In 1961, this event led to the Premios Formentor competition, which was held again in Formentor the following year, although it would travel to other places in the world after that. In 2008, a revival of these international literary gatherings returned to Mallorca, and has been held in Formentor ever since.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Port de Pollença, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 14th, 2009. The time was 14:28:35. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of elpais.com. It had in turn been taken from the book Historia de la literatura española. Derrota y restitución de la modernidad: 1939-2010. The authors in that photo are (from left to right) Juan Goytisolo (National Prize for Spanish Literature, 2009), Víctor Seix, Camilo José Cela (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1989), Josep Maria Castellet and Juan García Hortelano. Behind, to the left, Joan Fuster and to the right, Josep M. Espinàs.

Muchas gracias.

The Truth in Literature

Hen Nights, Mallorca Style

If you spend enough hours at Palma’s airport like I did the other night waiting for a friend whose plane was delayed for two hours, you’ll be treated to all sorts of sights. Such as Kristen, the bride to be, and her female friends, quite probably heading for Magaluf on a Hen Night outing.

Over the last five years, Mallorca has come to specialize in Hen Nights and Stag Does, on a par with Ibiza, Barcelona, Benidorm, Amsterdam and Budapest. Mallorca may be less extreme in its offering when compared to Amsterdam and Budapest, but the sun and the sea more than make up for it, and there is always Sangria and sex. Hen Weekend packages are available from £ 69 (88 €) per person, excluding flights, with no upper limit for the more discerning hedonists. Mind you, there was not much discernment recognizable as far as Kristen’s cheerful troupe was concerned.

The photo was taken near Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 24th, 2012. The time was 20:11:04.

Hen Nights, Mallorca Style

Mountain Olympics at the Barranc de Biniaraix

Whilst the couch potatoes amongst us, including yours truly, were busy watching the London 2012 Olympics on the telly last Sunday, a few hundred Mallorcan men and women (and children and dogs) participated in a kind of Mountain Olympics at the Barranc de Biniaraix, near Sóller. The competition was organised by the Secció de Muntanya del Círculo Sollerense and was held for the eleventh year. The contest was held in two categories, one against the clock and the other one just for the excitement of participating. The course had a length of 4.8 kilometres of cobbled Cami de Pedra en Sec.

Young Pere Rullan Estarelles was the overall winner in the male category with a time of 00:28:15, whilst María Eugenia Gallastegui Alemany was the fastest female with a time of 00:38:50.

If you haven’t been to the Barranc de Biniaraix you should make that one of your walks and hikes to do when the Olympics are over and done with. You will find one of the best scenic routes on the island, I promise, and you won’t have to run.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com, C.C.D.S. and the photographer, Joan Vicens i Vidal.

Thank you very much, and

moltes gràcies.

Mountain Olympics at the Barranc de Biniaraix

Monthly Lunchtime Organ Concerts in Palma’s Cathedral

One of the finest organs in Mallorca can be found in Palma’s Cathedral. Sadly, there are not many opportunities to hear the sound of this instrument. For the last ten or twelve years, a Festival Internacional de Órgano en la Catedral de Mallorca was celebrated during the four Sundays in October. There is a possibility that this Festival may have to be suspended this year. La Crisis.

Tomorrow, however, there will be a chance to listen to the Gothic organ at the occasion of a series of lunchtime concerts performed by Bartomeu Veny Vidal, the Cathedral’s organist. These half-hour concerts will be given every first Tuesday of the month at 12h00, with the exception of December and January. The concerts will be given for free, but there is an admission charge to the Cathedral of 4 €, unless you are a resident with proper documents in which case admission is granted free of charge.

The organ in Palma’s Cathedral was built in 1477, rebuilt in 1795 and restored in 1993; in 2006 it was declared a Bien de Interés Cultural (Cultural Heritage).

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 10th, 2012. The time was 12:29:48 and 11:04:23, respectively.

Monthly Lunchtime Organ Concerts in Palma’s Cathedral

The Annual Drag to Lluc

Tonight is the night of the annual walk from Palma’s Plaça Güell to the monastery of Lluc, up in the mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana. The marxa (walk) is in its 39th edition this year, starting at 23h00, extending to 43 kilometres and finishing at the Santuario de Lluc in the early hours of Sunday morning.

This year’s walk is the first one to charge a modest fee to cover organisational expenses. Participants will have paid 2 € for the Passagüell passport in which stamps have to be collected when passing through Palma (starting point), Binissalem, Selva and Lluc (finish). In return, participants will receive a T-shirt, fruit and water during the walk as well as roadside assistance including foot massage and first aid wherever needed. Last year, some 8,000 walkers attended with 6,500 or so reaching their destination.

I must admit that I have never participated yet. I would have wanted to. Perhaps next year I will.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 1st, 2012. The time was 13:04:31. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of desguellallucapeu.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Annual Drag to Lluc