Five Gibraltarian athletes will be joining a complement of over 200 athletes participating in the Eurafrica Trial 2018 Gibraltar stage.
This was confirmed by Aitor Calle one of the organisers of the race which will see over 1,000 athletes taking part in the unique trail race which will take athletes across three countries and two continents, including Gibraltar.
At a press launch of this, the second such edition of the Eurafrica Trail in which Gibraltar has become a part of, Minister for Sport Steven Linares said that he was “delighted to continue the partnership with the organisers of the Euroafrica Trial.”
The 2018 edition will be held on October 31 and will once again start from Europa Point at approximately 3pm.
The event is described as a unique opportunity “in as far as it is the only mountain race in the world to be held between two continents and three countries with Gibraltar now an integral part of the experience.”
The event continues to attract participants from far and wide with over 1,000 participants from fourteen different countries expected to take part, according to Mr Calle.
Athletes will face the established stages of the 25 or 50kms legs in Alcornocales Natural Park with the Moroccan leg this year moved to the town of Belynouch. The organisers says that this will see the “spectacular surrounding of Jbel Musa greet participants in the final stages.”
The four kilometre vertical climb from Europa Point to O’Hara’s Battery will this year see a variation in the route due to the works undertaken at Lathbury Sports Complex. Participants will follow a route which will take them through a military zone where they will be met by a vertical staircase climb through historic walls to lead them into Bellows Tunnel before climbing Windmill Hill and then on to Jew’s Gate.
The variation of the rout was welcomed by organisers who highlighted that it provided a unique natural environment which athletes would enjoy.
Speaking at a short press conference Mr. Calle thanked the Gibraltar authorities and Mr. Linares for the assistance provided indicating that “without them it would not have been possible.” The Gibraltar stage was seen as more difficult than the others in organising due to the logistical issues it presented. Mr Calle indicated that there had been a slight increase in the number of participants for the Gibraltar stage although he emphasised that they were not looking at increased numbers but “the quality of athletes taking part.” He expressed his satisfaction at the change of route as he highlighted that it provided participants with a more natural habitat moving them away from roads and urban areas.
The VisitGIbraltar Vertical Rise, as the Gibraltar stage of the event is known, will this year see five local participants. Local participation is something the organisers said they were trying to promote across all the stages.
Among the local athletes who will be taking part is Ian Howes who has bene involved in trail running in recent years, including completing over 100km runs. Mr Howes confirmed that he will also be taking part in the two other stages which will be held in Spain and Morocco.
Mr Linares welcomed the fact that the event brought together the Ministry for the Environment and Climate Change as he highlighted that this was a sport which puts the natural habitat at the nature to the foreground as their preferred routes.