Grand Raid Des Pyreness 2011: Athletes Pushed To The Limit

Despite colossal electric storms, sleet and dangerously high winds, the 2011 Grand Raid des Pyrenees went off without a hitch in the Pyrenees region of southern France.

Nicky Spinks.  Photo: Event HostCompetitors from across the world took part in the extremely challenging 80km and 160km events at the 2011 Grand Raid des Pyrenees, which was held on August 26 and 27th.

Rated by many runners as one of the toughest trail runs in the world, the Grand Raid des Pyrenees is a unique and exhilarating run. Both the 80km and 160km stage runs were set against the beautifully dramatic landscape of the historic village Vielle-Aure.

Even the threat of bad weather in Vielle-Aure could not dampen the mayor’s enthusiasm.

“This is our biggest annual event, and we’d love to build on this to create a trail destination for people from around the world”, said Mayor Maryse Beyrié.

The 160km event started at 07h00 on Friday August 26th, 2011, following a gruelling route between feed stations and refuges spaced approximately 7km apart. The Grand Raid des Pyrenees is known for its technical nature and a blazing cumulative ascent of nearly 10,000 meters.

‘Queen of the Mountains’, Nicky Spinks from the UK, returned once again and attempted to beat her phenomenal race time from 2010. After 29 hrs 45 min, 160km of running, and a gruelling ascent of 9 568m, the diminutive Brit completed a faultless run to claim first place.

Magnificent running by Oscar Peres Lopes, from Spain, saw him dominate the Men in the 160km Ultra. His time of 21 hrs 36 min was faster then last year yet he looked decidedly fresh when he crossed the finish line to hug both his wife and border collie.

Grand Raid des Pyreness 2011.  Photo: Event HostAs the 80km runners left the starting blocks on Saturday before dawn, legendary runner Dawa Sherpa brought a special kind of magic to the event. The high Pyrenean peaks were no match for the renowned Nepalese athlete, who managed to obliterate his opposition in a time of under 10hrs.

“It was much tougher than UTMB”, Sherpa said in an interview, explaining that the Alpine trails are groomed for easy running as compared to the technical terrain of the Grand Raid des Pyrenees.

France's Christophe Cazau claimed second place after triumphantly crossing the fine line in the bustling town of Vielle-Aure.

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