Arnau Clarella: running in Catalonia
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...