Euan Crumley visits a stunning Algarve location which will provide the stage for a new running festival in November
Picture a typical November day in Britain. Now picture the thought of heading out for your usual run as those dark, damp and cold conditions settle in.
It can be a drudge to train through those winter months. It’s at that very point in the year when summer feels like a distant memory and when most of us crave a little sun on our faces, to escape to warmer climes and find ourselves in an environment which is tailor made for activity and training. Quinta do Lago is just that place.
Just a short flight away from the UK and a mere 20-minute taxi ride from Faro airport, this stunningly beautiful resort in the Algarve will play host to an ambitious new premium running festival, Run Quinta, which will cater for all abilities and allow participants to challenge themselves in truly spectacular, top-class surroundings.
The festival weekend of November 8-10 will see the staging of a road half-marathon (on November 9), followed by 5km and 10km events a day later which travel along the beachside trails of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
It promises to be a truly immersive experience and an opportunity to sample the kind of facilities to which professional athletes are accustomed.
Run Quinta event HQ will be The Campus, a state of the art multi-sports training hub which is regularly used by elite sportspeople. The Ireland rugby team will be fine-tuning their World Cup preparations there while a number of English Premier League outfits, not to mention Paris St Germain, have taken advantage of the remarkable facilities on offer.
Olympic triathletes Jonny and Alistair Brownlee are no strangers to The Campus either and, as you wander through the impressive grounds which are a hive of sporting activity, it’s not hard to see why.
All manner of sports are catered for – from tennis, to swimming to cycling, while the high performance gyms, exercise classes, sauna and ice baths add a different dimension to training.
The 650m fitness trail which surrounds The Campus will represent the finishing lap to the Run Quinta half-marathon, run on the resort’s wide and welcoming roads which are bordered by some truly breathtaking properties.
Once across the finish line the runners can relax, unwind and celebrate their achievements at Dano’s Sports Bar – a bustling, substantial venue serving excellent food which will host a post-race party that features live entertainment.
The Run Quinta weekend is about so much more than running. Entrants to the festival will have access to many of the facilities
at The Campus, thus making the exclusive feel much more inclusive and adding to the enveloping nature of the experience.
There is the option of attending a charity dinner on the Saturday evening, while the party atmosphere is intended to move on to the Sunday, too, as the running focus moves down towards the immaculate trails surrounding the Ria Formosa – you can see them spreading out beneath you from the plane window as you come in to land – for the 5km and 10km events.
These start and finish at The Shack, another lively, high-quality bar and restaurant which will provide a vibrant and spectacular backdrop to an area which is just crying out to be explored and run on.
During my visit I stayed at the Magnolia Hotel, which is just a short warm-up away from the start lines for the weekend events.
Runners who opt to book one of the inclusive three-day packages on offer (starting from the great value price of £299 per person) will also stay at what is an immaculate, welcoming venue which houses a restaurant, heated outdoor swimming pool, gym, spa and even a cinema which can be booked for groups on request.
As well as the 74 rooms there are also seven cottages available to book on the property.
Every base has been covered for Run Quinta participants and it looks set to be the ideal opportunity for athletics club groups to get away, provide members with an autumn target to aim for and to celebrate all that is great about running.
Temperatures are still expected to hit around 20 degrees centigrade for race weekend and there really can be few better places for some warm weather training. Virgin Radio’s Chris Evans, who recently interviewed AW publisher and event ambassador Wendy Sly, is intending to take part and there are plenty of reasons to join in. This is a festival which really could run and run.
» Visit runquinta.com for entry details and further information