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 Choice is Yours

Guardia de Honor Palma de Mallorca 2

Mallorca is quite a unique island, really. Here, everyone can find what makes him (or her) happy, be it the long beach or the solitary cove, the old town of Palma and its exciting history of 2000 years, the wilderness of the Tramuntana mountain range, the encounter with the past in Chopin’s Valldemossa, the fortified rock castles, the picturesque beauty of the almond blossom season, the intriguingly hooded Easter processions or the dramatic alpine roads, equally attractive to motorists, motorcyclists and competitive cyclists.

Es Calderer Sant Joan Mallorca

The market days in the pueblos of the island center are just as alluring as the festivities celebrating the wine harvest, the Melon Festival, the correfoc fire runs or the annual animal blessings. Only recently, Palma de Mallorca was named by an English Sunday newspaper as the most attractive city of all in terms of the standard of living. In Mallorca, there is so much to visit and even more to discover. The island offers a vast variety of gastronomic delights, from roast lamb or paella to the roast suckling pig or the thick hot chocolate. The range of restaurants, tapas lounges and beach bars is vast; the agony of choice sometimes turns a simple task into a daunting affair.

Badhia de Alcúdia Mallorca

Mallorca is said to have 254 beaches, 171 monasteries and hermitages, 57 wineries, 301 km of trail of the dry stone route (GR 221), 6,000 years of populated History, 228 sundials, 17 bird sanctuary areas, 6 nature reserves, 300 days of sunshine, 2,922 restaurants, 1,538 cafeterias and 3,064 bars, 53 municipalities, 54 mountains with an altitude of more than 1000 m, 16 lighthouses, 52 defense towers and 157 courtyards in Palma alone. Fortunate is he who has a vehicle at his disposal to find what makes him happy.

Far de Porto Pi, Palma de Mallorca 2

If you need a rental car for your trip to explore the island, you might want to examine the rates of Carhire-Mallorca. There, you will be given the best rental prices for a first class car hire service. The choice can be yours without the agony.

The Choice is Yours

Geocaching in Mallorca

Geocaching is a craze which has now besieged Mallorca, just as it has the rest of the world. Geocaching is this incredible GPS-assisted treasure hunt that you can do virtually everywhere, from Vietnam to Alaska and from Australia to Iceland. According to Wikipedia, Geocaches are placed or rather, hidden, in over 200 countries. This outdoor recreational activity is easy, but not without snags or obstacles, and it is fun. You log on to the Geocaching website, sign-up and download the free application onto your smartphone. Chances are that there will be a few dozen, if not a few hundred caches hidden in the outdoors somewhere near you, either at home or on holiday. You could then attempt to find the cache, solve some quests on the way and record your exploits in the logbook and online. You might even win some Brownie Points on the way.

On October 10th, 2010, Geocachers around the world held events and went caching to commemorate 10 years of Geocaching. In the process they set a record for the most Geocachers to find a cache in a single day, with 78,313 accounts successfully logging a cache.

I went to Lluc last Saturday with a few friends and was introduced to the Geocaching concept and its physical reality. There are currently some 1,460 caches in all of Mallorca, 759 of them in Palma. In or near Lluc, there were about 40 caches listed on our GPS phones. We selected one and set off. We had to solve three tasks or quests on the way before we approached the target area. The GPS positioning is only accurate within four to six metres (after all, the signal comes from a satellite high up in the athmosphere). It took us a while to locate the hidden Tupper box. The two females in our team proved more astute than the two males, but isn’t it often like that? The box (second photo from top) contained a small log book and a number of items, instructions, gifts and a Travel Bug, which is a moving cache. We took that bug and replaced it with a slim torch. We had to consult about the Travel Bug on the Internet to find out the intention/s of the person who placed it and his or her instructions as to where to hide this travelling cache next. After successfully solving and locating the first such treasure, we selected two more cache points and were quite pleased with ourselves when we found those as well. Then we headed back to the monastery for a well deserved cup of tea and a nice piece of cake.

The top two photos were taken near Escorca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 7th, 2012. The time was 17:12:36 and 17:11:37, respectively. The bottom photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of destinationunknownjournals.com and Pam Bauer. The map was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of 2000.com and the CIA (U.S. Central Intelligence Agency). I wonder what they might get out of us so freely sharing our GPS positions.

Thank you very much.

Geocaching in Mallorca

The Long Walk to Lluc

Earlier this morning, thousands of ordinary Mallorcan people, young and old, will have arrived at the monastery of Lluc after a night-long foot march across the island and up into the Tramuntana mountains. You may remember, that every year on the first Saturday in August, the Marxa des Güell a Lluc a Peu is being undertaken. Now, five weeks on, the same ambitious walk was embarked upon along even longer trails, from the Part Forana, Mallorca’s hinterland. Last night, people set off in their hundreds from Alaró, Alcúdia, Algaïda, Andratx, Artà, Binissalem, Bunyola, Calvià, Campos, Can Picafort, Esporlas, Felanitx, Llubí, Llucmajor, Muro, Petra, Sa Pobla, Santa Margalida, Santanyí, Son Servera, Vilafranca de Bonany, you name it.

The main stop for everyone on the way up was in Inca at 04h00 this morning. Refreshments were handed out and medical assistance was on the ready in Inca, Selva and Caimari. Participants were given a T-shirt and a ribbon. Everyone will have been given a certificate upon arrival, as well as hot chocolate and Bollería pastries. There was also a church service for those who wanted to attend after a successful completion of their strenuous task.

The photo (top) was taken in Escorca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 7th, 2012. The time was 17:40:34. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Simó Tortella.

Muchas gracias.

The Long Walk to Lluc

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

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

The Sa Calobra Canyon

The Sa Calobra Canyon, also known as the Torrent de Pareis Gorge, must be one of the island’s most dramatic landscapes and is one of Mallorca’s two Natural Monuments. Friends of ours wanted to go there for a walk yesterday and were most surprised when we told them that it would be well worth visiting but would, indeed, be a very testing hike or trek, and not to be underestimated. We advised them not to overestimate their skills and rather enter the canyon from the seaside, trying to get up into the gorge as far as they could and to turn back when the going got too tough.

Luckily, our friends heeded our advice and set off with sturdy walking boots, a plentiful supply of water, the mobile phone charged up and a digital camera for the scenic views en route. They went through Inca and admired the drive up past the terraced landscape of the Tramuntana mountains, turned left on top in the direction of Sóller and turned right past the aqueduct in the direction of Sa Calobra. They were most impressed by the 12 km long serpentine route and by the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea when they got down to Sa Calobra. They found the beach, had a swim, walked to the mouth of the canyon and began the hike. The trek was far from an easy Sunday afternoon stroll but, was just this side of too demanding. After about an hour the path was blocked by some boulders of perhaps 3 metres in height and they decided that it was time to head back. I am glad they did. They went back for another refreshing swim in the gorgeous sea before they headed back for Inca where they treated themselves to some excellent fish (Cap Roig [scorpion fish], at 50 € per kg).

When they returned home they stated categorically that they wanted to live here as well. They had seen Mallorca at its best.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Escorca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 7th, 2008. The time was 15:58:08. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and Guacamoliest.

Thank you very much.

The Sa Calobra Canyon