A few weeks ago I was in Prades in the Pyrenees for a training camp with the U18 athletes from LG Steinlach-Zollern. As Prades is not far from Andorra, I used the opportunity to check out the course for the World Mountain Running Championships 2018. Andorra is directly on the border between France and Spain.
This beautiful country with a wild landscape and a lot of ski resorts is 1,200 km away from my hometown in Germany and we had to travel around 12 hours by car to get there. The nearest airports to Andorra are Perpignan and Toulouse in France and Barcelona in Spain. The traveling time from the airports to Andorra is between 2 and 4 hours (with Perpignan the closest). The capital of Andorra is Andorra la Vella – it lies on the border to Spain at the beginning of a narrow valley, is not particularly striking and has lots of hotels and shopping centers. To the village of Canillo, where the World Championships are being held, you have to drive around 20 minutes from Andorra la Vella. Here there are plenty of hotels and shopping centers, and the infrastructure for an event like this is generally very good, meaning the athletes could locate close to the starting point. For the transport of warm clothes, athletes and support teams, there are cable cars/chairlifts to the top of the mountain.
The starting area is in the Center of Canillo next to „Comu de Canillo“. The first km is on a road which rises moderately. After 1.3 km there is a steep technical mountain trail for the next 2 km. After this first technical part (at around 3.5 km) you have to run on a forest road / ski slope, which changes between steep uphill and flat parts, up to the cable car’s middle station. At this point you are at the 5 km mark. Following the middle station there is a 1.5 km long downhill section, which is good to run. The ground varies here between forest floor and grass and is not really technical when running downhill. The next 3 km is a curvy technical trail which winds around the mountain to another ski resort. This trail is easy to run. Now you have the last 3.5 km uphill with 400m in altitude difference. From this point the course ground changes between grassy ski slopes and forest roads. The last 500m you have to run straight up a grassy ski slope to 2,400m. Here you can enjoy the great view across the wild mountains of Andorra and the Pyrenees.
All in all this championship course ist really good to run and has no difficult technical parts. Most of the time you are running in a ski resort, which is not particularly pretty, as you can see from the title picture and the following video and photos. Once you have finished the race take some time at the top to enjoy the view of the beautiful landscapes of Andorra and the Pyrenees – beyond the ski resort this country is really beautiful.