André Cabrita (40) from Faro with starting number 13 was the winner of the 1st Monchique Mountain Marathon, which took place on Saturday, 30th December and hat a cumulative elevation of 1,521 metres. Participants from five countries – Austria, Namibia, Germany, Spain and Portugal – took part in this popular sporting event. They met at the start in Caldas de Monchique at 6 a.m. During the eight- kilometre-long first leg to Fornalha near Alferce, the sun began to rise. The flora and fauna came to life with the sunrise at 7.47 and the participants were able to turn off their head lamps. All the marathon participants were delighted about the sunny hiking weather following four days of rain. After passing the first refreshment table, the climb to the peak of Picota (776 m) – also eight kilometres long – started, which João Pedro Ribeiro (29) from Lisbon with his dog Zumba reached first. At that point, Thomas Martin (aged 50) from Austria was still in third place. But as the overall classification comprised the marathon, archery and the completion of a thematic questionnaire, 49-year-old Alexandra Speiser with her dog Fizzy from Monchique later moved into third place. In the adventure park close to the highest peak of Fóia (902m), the archery began at 11.25 after covering 25 kilometres, under the direction of hiking guide Lúcio Feio. Once reinforced by a hot stew prepared by cook Monique Volkers, the participants in a breakaway group set off on the second part of the hiking marathon, the 17.6-kilometre-long descent to Caldas 250 metres below. The circuit covered a total of 42.6 kilometres and led past the five wind-powered generators in the direction of Marmelete. In Almarjão, all the participants did an about-turn and set off back to Caldas via Barranco de Silvestre, Casais and Nave. Before the sun set at 17.30, the first members of the breakaway group with João Pedro Ribeira, André Cabrita, Alexandra Speiser, Rena Schulte and Thomas Martin arrived at the finish back in Caldas de Monchique. Hike guide Jürgen Kahlisch (aged 60) from the Portuguese hiking association ACaminPor formed the so-called “sweeping troop” with a second group so that no participants got lost in the dark. In summary, all the participants reached the finish in one piece and happy, one female participant gave up after 35 kilometres with knee problems. All the participants want to take part in the competition again in 2018; next year the race will be run in the opposite direction, including some surprises. For people wanting to make a note of the date, it will take place on Sunday, 30th December.
1° André Cabrita (Faro, 12/18 pontos)
2° João Pedro Ribeira (Lisboa, 11/18 pontos)
2° Alexandra Speiser (Monchique, 11/18 pontos)
3° Rena Schulte (Berlim, 9/18 pontos)