Gran Trail Peñalara 2017 (11k-60k-110k): Last hours to enter, before DEC1 lottery. Race report by Casey Morgan.

Gran Trail Peñalara ultra trail was launched back in 2010 aimed at commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the mountain club RSEA Peñalara, which was celebrated in 2013. Ever since, the race has grown up to become the most important annual trail running event in central Spain.

This 2017 the 8th edition of the main race, the Gran Trail Peñala over 115k will once again be a qualifying race for UTMB and Western States 100 Miles. Besides that, the event offers the Trail Peñalara 60km and the Cross Nocturno Navacerrada, a short fun race by night. Entries draw is held DEC 1st so hurry up if you mean the enter the registration lottery.

Last section of the climb up to Peak Peñalara

Last section of the climb up to Peak Peñalara at 2.430m.




 The main race course is based upon a 110km complete circumvalation of the highest peaks of the Guadarrama National Park, with Peñalara peak at 2.430 meters as course summit. There are also two smaller races held, as mentioned above, with 60km and 11km courses.

This unique ultra trail of the Guadarrama National Park passes through different towns and mountain villages following old time trails that were used by cattle, hunters and nowadays, by hikers, and nowadays structured as an official mountain trekking route as the GR10 trail, that connects Valencia to Lisbon by traversing the Central Massif range in Spain.




The race is circular and is ran in self-sufficiency mode, requiring the participants to carry a minimum amount of mandatory equipment which guarantees their safety during the 110 kilometers of the race. Maximum time allowed to complete the race is 30 hours.

The event is designed for anyone who is in physical shape and is familiar with mountain surroundings, allowing for participants of different levels to complete the race. Some will take as little as 13-14 hours of running, and others combine running and hiking to complete the event in the maximum time limits.

The event gathers trailrunners from all over Spain and abroad to experience the true beauty of the mountains of Madrid and at the same time take special care and respect for the protected environment and its immense natural and cultural value.

Back in 2015 the race hosted the national Ultra Championship in Spain, with Miguel Heras and Gemma Arenas and winners. This 2016 the male winner  was Remi Queral from the Valencia region and the local runner Mercedes Pila from Madrid.  See below the teaser for the last edition. 









The main race course begins and ends at the village of Navacerrada, just 50k from Madrid itself. It heads out of town through the valley of La Barranca rising up to the summit of La Maliciosa (2.221m) and heading down through the sierra of Porrones to Cantocochino, which lies within the Pedriza regional park.

The ultrarunnners now continues through La Pedriza, climbing by La Gran cañada, a former sheperds trail, towards the Hoya de San Blas and moving then on through lower pine and oak groves along the old pathway from Madrid to el Paular reaching La Morcuera Pass.

From that point, after a long descent, the course arrives at the Monasterio de El Paulr in the heart of the Lozoya valley, crossing the river over the historical bridge, Puente del Perdón and arriving in the town of Rascafría .

American Johnn Tidd reaches Rascafria by medieval bridge

American Johnn Tidd reaches Rascafria by medieval bridge



From Rascafría and the Lozoya valley, the Gran Trail follows the top of the Montes Carpetanos, up to the Reventón Pass. From here it continues along the top between Segovia and Madrid where it reaches the highest point of the Madrid sierra at the summit of Peñalara. From Peñalara, the race doubles back to the previous col and then drops now down north, into the Segovian side, with its majestic pine trees arriving in La Granja de San Ildefonso, former royal site for the Kings of Spain, whose palaces may still be visited there.

From La Granja and following the road of the Pesquerías Reales, constructed during the reign of Charles III, parallel to the Eresma river, the GranTrail enters the pine forest of Valsaín and picks up the GR10 again, which ascends along the historical pathway between two plateaus reaching the Fuenfría Pass.

The Gran Trail leaves the Fuenfría and within the pine forest of Valsaín, climbs to the Navacerrada Pass (km 100). The last 10 km crosses the side of Las Guarramillas to the hill of Emburriadero and descends down the valley of La Barranca in order to reach the finish line in the town of Navacerrada.

gran trail peñalara 2013 fotos meta (45)




The Gran Trail Peñalara was never part of my plans for this year but after breaking my ankle in the Ultra trail Serra de Tramuntana in April, I wanted to find another long race before the Swiss Irontrail in August. Fortunately I didn’t have to try very hard to find a race as I received a message from Sergio Mayayo inviting me to Navacerrada to tackle the Gran Trail. The race came at the perfect time for me being 6 weeks out from the Swiss race and also gave me the opportunity to catch up with friends Sergio, Ana and Celeste, all of whom I had met at this year’s Trans Gran Canaria.

Casey Morgen (right) with Mayayo (center) and Mikel Leal (left)

Casey Morgen (right) with Mayayo (center) and Mikel Leal (left) at the start.

As the GTP is very close to Madrid at the end of June my main concern about the race was the temperature. When I checked the temperatures for this time of year I discovered that 35 degrees and more was a possibility, very very hot for a Scotsman!!! I immediately arranged to travel to Mallorca for a week before the race to train in the sun and allow my body to adapt. I love the Tramuntana mountains and the people of Mallorca and after my week on the island I arrived in Madrid feeling fit, relaxed, heat acclimated and most importantly, ready to race.

…./…. Read the rest of the story here

Gran Trail Peñalara official website in english: Info & Registration.




Info by Mayayo Oxígeno for Trailrunningspain