Millet Reviews
31.03.2017

Arnau Clarella: running in Catalonia

Arnau Clarella is a young sportsman who loves his home region, Catalonia. Operating in top shape, he recently finished his skimountaineering season. And having barely put away his skis, he is slipping into trainers to resume his second passion, trail running. That day, he was heading out to explore a new playground. His search for exceptional moments means switching off from everyday life and seeking his personal aspirations deep inside, with nature his running mate. Will he be physically up to this fresh exploration? He doesn’t know, but that is the price to pay for rediscovering a feeling of fulfilment, of physical and mental completeness. We went to meet him in Siurana, his secret garden, and Montserrat, for a first-time visit.
Tuesday, 5pm. We have arranged to meet Arnau Clarella at the campsite in Siurana, 90 minutes from Barcelona between the Sierra de Montsant and the Prades Mountains. A great little village (population: 30) on a plateau, it is fringed on three sides – west, south and east – by cliffs that tower over the river of the same name. The reputation of the village is due partly to the breathtaking view it offers and its nearby climbing routes, graded up to 9a. “Bienvenido a Espana” he says, looking a bit downcast. Spain may be known for generous springtime temperatures, but the weather has turned stormy, fog is shrouding the summits, and rain is now pouring in squally bursts.
 

 

 

Arnau CLarella Siurana
 

 

 

RUNNING IS IN MY NATURE

Arnau, 24, is an environmental engineer and a volunteer forest firefighter. He is currently doing a second university degree in Barcelona to supplement his studies in topography and renewable energies. For him, sport is a vital counterweight to work, and brings a precious sense of balance. A footballer since he was a small kid, he decided at the age of 19 to switch to outdoor running in order to reconnect with nature. He now divides his leisure time between trail running, fast alpine, vertical races, mountaineering, and skimountaineering, in which he excels. In combination, these complementary disciplines make him an accomplished athlete. He runs for enjoyment and performance in equal measure. Every day, he puts on his trail kit and ventures out, without knowing exactly where his paths will take him.

Arnau was just back from the Tour du Rutor in Italy, a famous three-day ski-mountaineering event where he raced with the Spanish team. After a brief chat, he insisted on taking us to discover his playground, despite the rainy weather. The tour began in the village, which dates from the ninth century. The Siurana Mountains, yellow limestone molasse, are full of little paths, beaten by spot-seeking climbers but also trail runners heading every which way. “I suggested meeting here because this is my source of inspiration. I come running here at the weekend to recharge. What I love is the contrast between the hard mineral surfaces and the evergreen vegetation, and getting lost in the valleys, the better to find myself again.”

Despite the temperature – about 8°C – and pelting rain, we head off running in the hills, his secret garden. After a few steps along the sodden path overlooking the cliff, he vanishes into the undergrowth, which grows ever wilder and darker. And from then on, no one can follow him...

 

 

 

«NEVER GIVE UP, FIGHT YOUR DOUBTS AND PAINS. RISING UP MEANS DIGGING DEEP TO FIND THE BEST OF YOURSELF»
Alpine Rush photo D.Ariño
 

 

 

 
CHANGE TERRAIN TO BETTER FIND YOURSELF
The next day, Arnau is due to connect with Marta Palau and Mireia Miro, two members of the Spanish skimountaineering team, in the Montserrat Massif – one of the great symbols of Catalonia. Once known as home to a religious community, it has become a bastion of Catalan identity – not forgetting its natural setting, distinctive topology and a configuration of rocks and rounded, sheer needles. Right in the middle of Catalonia, visible for miles all around, and hosting a monastery, Montserrat is a seriously iconic mountain. Stretching 10 km by five on the boundary of the Bages, Baix Llobregat and Anoia regions, it offers through its natural park more than 3,600 hectares of rocks, hills and valleys that compete in the wilderness stakes. The highest peak is Sant Jeroni (1236m), which affords a terrific view over a great swathe of Catalonia, from the Pyrenees to the sea. Our three trail runners push off for an exploratory excursion of a few hours, to taste the joys of freedom and the great outdoors. “What I especially like with this kind of discovery is getting lost, the better to find myself again.
Stringing together rapid ascents, walking or running depending on the gradient, then easing downhill to recover, before starting all over again – another valley, another peak, a fresh view, and you get enthused by new plans. At every moment, my brain logs the height of the sun, the scents of the Mediterranean vegetation, the colors… It photographs the panorama. With every exertion, my resistance and stress crack and let my true nature through – the deep-seated, nature-loving spirit that I feel close to. Trail running, and mountain running more generally, bonds me with the best of myself. And in those moments, I feel truly alive.”
 
 

 

 

ALPINE RUSH
Designed for rapid elevation change on all types of terrain, these trail running gems are pacy, highly cushioning, precise and lightweight. Its MICHELIN® 'Mont Blanc' trail running outsole has been specifically developped with and for us, inspired by mountain bikes tires and made in France.
 

 

 

 

 

 

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