The area is called the Gargano Peninsular in Puglia and it is a fantastic place to run. Earlier in the year I attended a promotional week for the official launch of Gargano Running Week – a long weekend of trail and road races which will be held between 9th – 12th October 2014.
The organisers, Soul Running, are an Italian organisation who have branched out from production of a printed magazine by the same name. They really encompass a ‘grass roots’ approach to trail running; rather than simply covering existing events or using existing trails, they have gone out of their way to find an area which is new to the sport. The Soul Running team spent two years sourcing a location for their first event. They have forged and marked the trails themselves and worked with the local authorities to promote running as a whole throughout the area. The result is an inclusive and original event which should appeal to a wide range of runners.
What you need to know:
Date: 12-19th October 2014
Races: 10,000 Olive Tree’s 10k Road Race
Gargano Road Half Marathon
Saraceno Trail – 14km +/- 600m
Mattinata Trail – 34km +/- 1780m
Gargano Raid – 75km +/- 3200m
Plus fun runs for families and young children on Saturday and Sunday morning
Entry Price: from EUR 6 – 55
Average weather: 13c – 21c
How to get there: The closest airport is Bari. From here you can either take the train to Manfredonia and then bus to the peninsular or take a bus or car directly to Gargano. The organisers are likely to offer transfers, so do check their website closer to the time
Where to stay: Mattinata is the closest town which has a handful of hotels. There is a good selection of hotels within a short drive, from budget to luxury. We stayed at the Il Porto Residence just outside of Mattinata which offers hotel rooms and self catering apartments and was very nice.
More about the trail: We ran several parts of the trails used and the terrain is really varied. The route moves from gravel single track to unmade trails through an ancient necropolis, over pebble beach and open grass fields to ankle breaking, rocky mountain trails.
I think that the combination of great trails, atmosphere and organising team will add up a really enjoyable event. See below for more photos of the trails and take a look at the Gargano Running Week website for more information.