Top 10 French Races

Le Championnat du Canigou

Posted: 8 July 2000

Le Championnat du Canigou

Month August
Location Vernet-les-Bains – deep in the Pyrenees (the eastern part, towards the Mediterranean)
Distance 30K
Why do it At the turn of the century, the locals from Vernet-les-Bains were in the habit of climbing the Canigou mountain to bring back blocks of ice from the glacier for the pleasure of those visiting this thermal spa town (English for the most part, including Queen Victoria herself). In honour of the ‘porteurs de glace’, the French Alpine Club inaugurated this mountain race in 1905, each competitor carrying an eight kilogram load. The Canigou is an isolated mountain, giving spectacular views of the surrounding country during the climb and from the summit. But to see them you’ve got to make it up the 16km climb (all 2100 metres of it) and, after a bit of rock scrambling near the summit, negotiate the 14km descent along mountain paths and forest rides. While this is a tough mountain race, it remains accessible to the well prepared, but note that the air is thin at these altitudes (2784 metres). Taking your woolly hat to the South of France in August may seem bizarre, but runners came up against -4°C temperatures at the summit last year. And for those tending towards masochism, a separate ranking is run for those carrying the (now optional) eight-kilogram pack – the locals will love the idea of getting their own back if you take up this option.
Field 800
Fee €20 (including a post-race picnic in the park)
Contact Championnat du Canigou Siege social: 37 Bd Clemenceau-66820 Vernet les bains, France; e-mail; web
Other information Entry closes on July 22. Race starts 7am. Feeding stations every 4km. Showers and massages available.
Getting there By road – 55km from Perpignan on the N116 towards Andorra. By rail – the nearest station (5km away) is Villefranche-de-Conflent on the Perpignan-Andorra line, then bus or taxi. By air – cheap fares may be available with Go airlines to Perpignan.
Where to stay Hotels and camping available from the Office Municipal du Tourisme, 66820 Vernet-les-Bains, France; tel 00 33 468 05 55 35; fax 00 33 468 05 60 33.

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Championnat du Canigou, Pyrenees

Discuss this article

Does anyone know the date of this race (2007) or how I can find it out please. Will be in the area last 10 days in August and want to try to tie it in. Thx!
Posted: 11/02/2007 at 19:43

Found following info on google (may be interested myself in race ) - there is a website at bottom of following info and when i went on there it appears to have to pre enter as the entry maximum of 800 is sometimes reached. Also to save time can you tell me exact area of France we are talking about.
Info -

• The championship of Canigou - on August 5, 2007
At the beginning of the century, courageous and sporting vernétois were going to seek in altitude of the blocks of ice which they brought back on their back while running, to refresh the curists who attended the luxurious hotels of the station. That which returned most quickly was likely best to sell its ice.

In 1905, in the honor of these carriers of ice, the section of the French Alpine Club had the idea
to organize a pedestrian race going from Vernet to the peak of Canigou and return, with a load on the back, a course with uneven impressive.
In 1980, the organization of this race of mountain was taken again and, for more than 20 years, it has been held 1st Sunday of August and joins together runners, with or without load, and of the hikers.
On a distance of 30 km in loop and uneven of 2100 m, the competitors start from Vernet-the-Baths, pass by the refuge of Mariailles, reach the peak and go down again in Vernet by the opposite slope and the country cottage-refuge of Cortalets.

Posted: 11/02/2007 at 20:19

Canigou is in the Roussilon district of France - nearest biggish place is Prades. My brother used to live in Mosset, in one of valleys at the foot of Canigou. We always flew to Perpignan from Stansted.
Posted: 11/02/2007 at 20:22

Thanks for that - still debating what race to travel to in summer so will investigate this one a bit further. We did one from St Lary last summer which was only 11k but 10k of that was all uphill. Murder at time but afterwards realised it was a fab sort of race and the value for money was unbelievable - loads of soft drinks at top -free cable car pass back down - and then at prize giving tables of food plus free wine.
Also wife won the womens race and received prizes worth around £100 - entry fee was around 8 euro's each!!!
Posted: 11/02/2007 at 20:29

Canigou is the sacred mountain of the Catelans and always has snow on it. Its a really beautiful area but I wouldn't fancy running a marathon anywhere near it! Its part of the Pyrenees - actually near Font Romeaux where Paula Radcliffe trains.
Posted: 11/02/2007 at 20:35

Gets more interesting as we like any sort of off road race and if it's mountains better still. Working a night shift so will be googling this a bit more later on.
Posted: 11/02/2007 at 20:38

Thanks for the info on the date - it may be to early in the month for me not going over till end august but if anyone wants to know about the area I'll help if I can!

It will certainly be a challenging marathon but views to die for!! The area is gorgeous and full of history.

If flying go for either Perpignan (can fly from southasmpton if in south) or Girona (Barcelona) (Ryanair fly from bournemouth daily)& hire a car which is cheaper in Spain than France!!- try Europa car hire - watch the others as they add on for travelling out of Spain by the day! Book by phone as some details are conveniently left out until after you have paid online so ask first about extras! Something learnt through bitter experience!
Posted: 12/02/2007 at 13:06

Will have a think about this one and may be in touch later on for more info
Posted: 12/02/2007 at 22:30

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