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The route of Penyagolosa Trails, stretch by stretch

The itinerary of the test celebrates the landscape and natural value of the province of Castellón.

Penyagolosa Trails returns from October 15 to 17 in the 22nd edition of Marató i Mitja (MiM), of 60 kilometers, and 9 in the Castelló – Penyagolosa race (CSP), of 110 kilometers. The sport competition has consolidated in recent years one of the most complete and attractive routes on the national scene, touring some of the greatest natural treasures that the province of Castellón enjoys, most of them protected, valuing the wealth of the area. While promoting knowledge and enjoyment of the route, the event applies a series of measures and good practices to protect and conserve the natural environment.

In general terms, this edition maintains the route presented in 2019, except at the start, where both tests, unlike previous years, will leave from the same location: the Universitat Jaume I de Castelló (UJI). In addition, in order to ensure the health and safety of all persons involved in the event, the organization has considered and coordinated various scenarios to adapt quickly and effectively to the different health contexts that may occur at the time of the test.

First section: Castelló – Les Useres

As on previous occasions, the MiM and the CSP share the route in the first section between Castelló and Les Useres, although this time, both starting from the Universitat Jaume I de Castelló. The test begins heading towards the Hospital de La Magdalena, reference point to face the first big climb that lets you glimpse the landscape of contrasts characteristic of the province and the high level of demand that requires the challenge. The so-called Tossal Gros de Castellón has 2.66 kilometers of distance, 234 m+ and an average climb of 9%, data that show the important effort and control since the beginning of the test.

From here the runners make their way to Borriol, alternating sections by technical path, more “runners” and sections of track. Once past Borriol, it will face a new demanding climb of 2.55 km with 236m+, and a 14% average climb. The runners will pass through impressive historical and scenic enclaves of the municipality, such as the Pedra de Borriol, from where you can already glimpse in the distance the Penyagolosa, the Pou de Mollet or the Mas de Panero.

Once the CV-160 has been saved, the next target will be the Bassa de les Oronetes. The road continues along the bed of the Barranc de les Parres before starting the climb to the Mas de Polinàrio. From this reef, the road to the victualling is done by track.

After this refreshment, the famous Rambla de la Viuda will lead the participants along a path to the Tossal del Segall, before descending strongly to the Barranc de les Olles. Before arriving at Les Useres, the runners will face several strict climbs until reaching the foothills of the village and the third supply. It is at this point that the paths of both trials are separated.

Second MiM section: Les Useres – Sant Joan de Penyagolosa

MiM participants face the equator of the test through the GR33-Camí dels Pelegrins. This road, which runs through the municipalities of Les Useres, Llucena del Cid, Xodos and Vistabella del Maestrat, has a transcendental historical value in the province, having been throughout history the main way of communication between farmhouses and towns.

The steep ravines and the mountains are the most common landscape of the entire journey through the splendid landscape of the Macizo de Penyagolosa. Once past the Serra de la Creu, the next point of reference will be the hermitage of Sant Miquel de Torrosselles, the last fortification of Arab origin before reaching the adjacent municipality. Before reaching it, it will be necessary to go up and down the Mas de la Vall. In total, it is a stretch of 2.67 kilometers and 141 m+. From here you will climb the Lloma Bernat, 4.8 kilometers and 490m+, which will be the prelude to one of the most complex climbs, physically and mentally, of the whole test: the climb to Xodos.

After descending both by path and by track, the participants will face 3.22 kilometers and 129 m+ (very concentrated in the final stretch) until they reach Xodos, a town presided over by the keep of its old Arab castle that has spectacular views. At this point, the test will have left 50 kilometers behind and the last 10 kilometers will be ahead.

From Xodos, the race starts on the track and soon after start climbing one of the most important and decisive sections of the race, the Marinet, a complicated stretch of 3.51 km and 375 m+ to reach the Pla de la Creu. From there, you will take an old road that already existed before building the tracks to enter the Banyadera in the Penyagolosa Natural Park, a landscape paradise and biodiversity without precedent of great value for the whole Valencian Community. In it is the second highest point of the community (1813 m.s.n.m) and the most desired by the participants: the Penyagolosa. Once you reach the Banyadera, you resume the path and an undulating descent, which will lead to the last great enclave: Sant Joan de Penyagolosa, where you will find the finish.

This sanctuary receives numerous pilgrimages year after year, dating back to the Middle Ages, and is one of the most symbolic religious sites in the province. Undoubtedly, the ideal place to finish an experience as intense and enriching as Penyagolosa Trails.

Second CSP section: Les Useres – Sant Joan de Penyagolosa

At this point, while the MiM route turns off towards Torresselles, the CSP participants board the next 74 kilometers to the finish line. The route will make the runners climb El Piló, 704 meters above sea level, right on the border between both municipalities, with 4.4 kilometers and 317 m+. After this demanding climb, you descend to Les Foies, cross the Barranc del Castell and take the road back to Atzeneta del Maestrat, where you will find the fifth supply.

Once the village is left behind and after a few kilometers by the PR, the runners face the dreaded “wall”, an old azagador that leads us to the next stop in the old campsite of Benafigos. At that time, the runners will arrive at the equator of the event.

The race continues in the direction of Culla, a medieval village situated on top of a hill, 1,100 meters high. To reach it, the route combines ancient paths between farmhouses to the river Montlleó. Once crossed the river, begins the climb to Penyacalva, known for its rocky pediment full of broken edges, its contrasts of colors, and its great length and height. This is a difficult climb, especially at the beginning, until the last stretch that runs along the track to Culla.

Once past this reef and left behind Culla, the route is linked to the GR7, one of the largest long trails in the country, which will lead by path to the Mas de Campos, point after which the path is smoothed through slides, with shade and holm oaks vegetation. This road ends at the hermitage of Sant Bartolomeu, eighth victualling, necessary to replenish forces.

Between Sant Bartolomeu and Vistabella, the journey continues by slides through the Mas de Salvador. From Vistabella begins the descent to the Barranc dels Molins, from there new ascent to the Mas de l’Albagés and, after a gentle slope, resume the slides to Xodos, where is one of the most spectacular views of the route: a descent in track from where you can see the small village at the foot of a large molar.

From here, the test reaches its final stretch, the last 14 kilometres. Although in Xodos they converge, again, both races, the start of each one of them is different, leaving the CSP for the old road of Villahermosa, to travel the low area of the Mas de Gargant and to reach the Mas del Collao to face the last challenge of the race.

With the imposing south face of the peak of the Penyagolosa in the background, the path reaches to the Fuente del Paso and presents a last but intense ascent to the Mas de la Cambreta, to 1.539 meters above sea level, the highest point of the CSP. Once passed, the finish of Sant Joan de Penyagolosa will be waiting after more than 100 kilometers of effort and sacrifice touring much of the province.

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