Reunion island Ultra trail “La diagonale des fous” ( The madmen’s Diagonal)

Reunion Island is heaven on earth for those who enjoy outdoor sports, and there are almost 1,000 kilometres of hiking trails winding all over the island. 42% of the island is listed as World Heritage by Unesco.

You can enjoy all kinds of sports on the ultimate island (MTB, paragliding, diving, deep-sea fishing, canyoning) but one of them is unique, original and sometimes offers a brand-new experience: the Grand Raid of Reunion Island!

The Grand Raid of Reunion Island is considered a legendary “Ultra Trail”, due to the difficulty encountered and the rugged mountain tracks of the island. There are four races in this competition, including the “Diagonale des Fous” (Madmen’s Diagonal) which is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT), which groups together the most iconic races in the discipline.

La Diagonale des fous has even been named the most iconic Ultra Trail in the world by the French magazine l’Equipe.

Test your limits !

To end the season, every year in October, those looking to win the title come to the island to participate in the Grand Raid of Reunion Island.

The very best of the world’s trail runners come every year, to take on the 166 km, with 9,600 metres of uphill climbs, departing from Saint-Pierre, and try to get to Saint-Denis as quickly as possible.

The Grand Raid of Reunion Island, at the heart of the national park, is for those looking for some excitement and for experienced trail runners. It is a popular race with participants from the island, from metropolitan France, overseas and from all over the Indian Ocean. The Reunion Island Diagonale des Fous is well-known across the globe, and is one of the 15 most difficult races in the world, with participants coming from 50 different countries!

 This race is more than just a trail run, it’s an opportunity to push the boundaries, it’s a challenge, the “Madmen’s Diagonal”. You have to be a madman/woman to run across Reunion Island, from south to north.

Up in the mountains, with conditions that can sometimes be unpredictable, the Grand Raid of Reunion Island is all about effort, solidarity, conviviality, encounters and the ultimate pleasure for the senses. Thanks to these sensations, emotions and thrills, competitors always aim to push themselves to their ultimate limits.

How can you prepare for an ultramarathon on Reunion Island ?

Regular weekly training
You need to train on a regular basis At least 4 sessions per week are essential to be able to run an ultramarathon. We also recommend regular physical training such as weightlifting.

Long-term preparation 
You should start your preparation well before the race. Start preparing for the race around ten months before, and make sure you put on the brakes one week before the competition.

Adapt your body to intense effort and differences in altitude
Get used to running for a long time and along tracks with steep uphill/downhill sections. If you live on flat terrain, you can train in a gym to replace the training sessions in mountainous terrain.

Test equipment
Make sure you test your equipment before the day of the race. Some of your equipment could be faulty or maybe not suitable for your body shape and/or the way you run.

Mental preparation
This race is a long and difficult one. The landscapes you’ll be crossing may be magnificent, but the challenge will not always be pleasurable. Make sure you prepare yourself mentally, to be ready to take on the Grand Raid of Reunion Island.

Study the terrain
We recommend you study the terrain before taking on this race. If you know the terrain well, you will be able to manage your race and your endurance much better. If you can’t go there before the actual race, you can study the map.

Manage your pace and endurance
With the right training and experience, you’ll be able to develop your own strategy for the race. Learn to know your own body and know how to manage your effort.

Good recovery
After such an effort, you must remember to recover properly. Make sure you plan for recovery time and plenty of rest. If you do not recover properly after this kind of effort, this could lead to serious injuries.