The last few weeks have been an opportunity to sit back and review what had been accomplished since our FKT back in October of 2013. Here are our thoughts.
Organizing a mountain race is hard. Preserving its core values is even more challenging.
Els 2900 started as an attempt to connect the seven highest peaks of Andorra in a row, from hut to hut, and in the fastest time as possible.
The success of our feat led us to make it a beta race the following year, before to transition to an official event in 2015. The basics? A race that is not for everyone, technical and exclusive, where skills matter. An elegant manner to promote our beautiful Andorran mountains, nested in the heart of the Pyrenees.
Over the last four years, we met incredible people and gathered strong support from the community. We listened to everyone, from the most enthusiastics to the most doubtful.
We came to the following conclusion:
1/ we set up something meaningful;
2/ we don’t fit in;
3/ we made some mistakes;
4/ we have a vision.
We set up something meaningful.
Ask anyone who got involved with Els 2900. They will tell you one thing: “This is more than a race!”. We’ve been truly overwhelmed by kindness and we know that we’ve touched many mountain enthusiasts to their bones. We also know that we raised many questions about the logistics required to set up such an event. Is it worth it money-wise? Hell no. Is it gratifying? Hell yeah!
We don’t fit in.
Trail running, mountain running, skyrunning, the dilemma between alpine running and ‘alpinrunning’… We live in a world where marketing can bias everything. Call us purists or romantics, but we feel like all these names —mostly all trademarked!— mean today the exact same thing. Either used by brands or federations, they all point to some easy, runnable terrain. Even if you can make it looks like super exposed thanks to some talented photographs.
Going fast and light along a ridge requires dedication, knowledge and a deep respect for nature.
A mountain is appealing. It is majestic. But you don’t get there like you’d go — with all due respect — to UTMB or Transvulcania. Going fast and light along a ridge requires dedication, knowledge and a deep respect for nature. Hence our limited spots — 50 — so that participants can appreciate their time up there. Not only during the race, but also in the huts, sharing their passion with like-minded people.
Obviously that sets us apart. But this is part of our DNA.
We made some mistakes.
We realize that we headed to the wrong path in the process of making Els 2900 an official race. We did things that looked obvious at the time: one was marking the entire 70km of the course, the other was to secure two of the most exposed ridge lines. Actually the first steps towards comfort.
We feel that we have made Els 2900 easier than it should be.
When setting our FKT in 2013, we ran/scrambled for 20 hours through storms and mist. No course marking, no fixed ropes whatsoever. Real adventure, true exploration. We got lost. We suffered. It was the best.
We lost that feeling as race organizers. We feel that we have made Els 2900 easier than it should be.
We have a vision.
We are now focusing our effort in the development of genuine mountain events in the heart of the Pyrenees, following the purity of natural, exposed ridge lines while capturing the camaraderie and skills of true mountaineers.
Last November, we organized an Edition Zero of the Pirinenc Clàssic, which is a new format of his own. 100% pure alpine, wild terrain. The real adventure. The true pyreneism that we experience all year long while training. The only differences? A bib number, a team mate and some harsh competition!
That experience has been unique. We felt that emotion that we had lost while organizing Els 2900. Here it is not only a matter of speed, rather a mix a orienteering, climbing and running skills all together. Sharing it with a team mate.
So it clicked when we realized that over the last two editions of Els 2900 the vast majority of the participants had run the race with another mate. For safety, for friendship… Because it is not your usual race.
Then we started thinking.
Els 2900 doesn’t belong to running. Nor it belongs to alpinism. It is just apart. And we like it that way.
The next edition will take place on October 6-8th. 50 people at most will attempt to connect the seven peaks of Andorra in a row, from hut to hut. But without course marking. Without fixed ropes. And by teams of two. Like we did back in 2013. Let’s get back to our roots. And build our own path.
We are also excited to announce that Jordi Tosas will join us as Technical Director for both Els 2900 and the Clàssic for 2017. Just looking at what we have been able to accomplish together this year for the Clàssic, we feel even stronger for the future!
Pre-registration will open on January 9th for a month, via www.els2900.com. Els 2900 is more than a race. It is an adventure. Will you dare to join us?
Matt & Carles
ELS 2900: limited to 50 participants, this race crosses Andorra from South to North in order to connect its seven highest peaks — all above 2,900m of altitude — in a row. The next edition will take place on October 6-8th, 2017.
THE CLÀSSIC: presented as the first light mountaineering competition ever, the Clàssic is a two-days events: the Face on Saturday — a freestyle, 500m vertical progression to tag a defined peak — and the Ridge on Sunday — a 20+km long line over sharp ridges including climbs from Grades II to IV —. Also limited to 50 skilled participants. The next edition will take place on June 2-4th, 2017.
PIRINENC: based in Ordino, Andorra, Taller Pirinenc SL focuses on developing genuine mountain events in the heart of the Pyrenees, following the purity of natural, exposed ridge lines while capturing the camaraderie and skills of true mountaineers. Taller Pirinenc SL is the sole and exclusive organizer of the above mentioned events.