Men's Fitness UK


“In parts, the Azores feels like a tropical paradise; in others, you could easily mistake it for the Yorkshire Dales”

Course maps and pre-event briefings aside, you can tell a lot about how tough a race is going to be by simply looking at your fellow competitors. Trekking poles are a dead giveaway, as are vascular calf muscles and legs criss-crossed with compression tape. These are the marks of seasoned runners; you are in for a serious race.

All the above were all on display as I landed on the mid-Atlantic island of São Miguel – part of the Azores archipelago – and checked in to my hotel one evening in late November. But there were also other, more obvious signs that I was in for a testing time: pained expressions, hobbled walks and a thick fog of Deep Heat. You see, I was late to the party, taking part in the half version of TRIBE Run for Love: a multi-stage 280k ultra marathon that bills itself as ‘the world’s toughest island race’.

Those already here, as I scanned the hotel lobby and began to wonder exactly what I’d let myself in for, had already been subjected to four consecutive days of hardcore mountain running. The evening I arrive, they have just completed the longest leg: 80 gruelling kilometres across mountainous terrain.

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