Approximately 700 kilometres west off the coast of Western Sahara are the Canary Islands. One of them, the furthest of the archipelago, into the Atlantic, is La Palma. La Palma and its town of El Paso will host the inaugural European Athletics Off-Road Running Championshipsionships. The festival of running will take place July 1-3, and will include a Thursday mass participation event.

The weekend of racing will include a mass participation race on June 30. The Ascent to the Stars (Subida a las Estrellas), a 3.2K run that will take place under the spectacular night sky of La Palma in its third annual running.

On Friday, July, 1, the official competition begins with the classic mountain running uphill races, which will see the men’s and women’s senior and U20 races. While the exact distances are to be confirmed – European Athletics regulations state that the senior races should be between 12-18K and the U20 races between 5-6K – which will be approximately 6K of gruelling climbing from the foot of the Bejenao to the summit of the Pista de Ferrer, which involves almost 800 metres of ascent up to an altitude of 1600m.

The following day a short ultramarathon race over approximately 45K will happen.

The route of the races takes in the Bejenao mountain, a hard ascent of the Reventón pass, the Cumbre Vieja, the Llano de los Jables and the emblematic Pino de la Virgen with much of the race taking place in the Caldera de Taburiente National Park.

On Sunday, July 1 will see the competition program close with European titles at stake in the mountain running ‘up and down’ races. The races will include approximately 300 metres of climbing and descending per 5-6K of the course.

European Athletics president, Dobromir Karamarinov, said, “It is a tribute to excellent organisational team locally, the consistent support of the institutions and a stunning natural environment that has already have made El Paso a trail running paradise, not only nationally, but also internationally. We want to leave a lasting legacy that will help promote the image of El Paso and the island of La Palma.”

“I am very excited about what is surely going to be a great celebration of both European and global trail and mountain running,” said European Athletics President Dobromir Karamarinov, speaking by video link from the European Athletics offices in Lausanne during the launch press conference held in the Spanish Sports Council (Consejo Superior de Deportes) facilities in Madrid.

“We strongly believed in the candidacy and professionalism of El Paso, La Palma due to their strong heritage in this specialist discipline; and this was only reinforced when the work became even tougher following the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island in 2021.”