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Carpe Diem runners take on 101 Legion de Ronda race

Five locally based runners recently completed a 101km race in Ronda.

Organised by the Ronda-based Spanish Legion, the event is held every year on the second weekend in May.

Now in its 24th year, among the 4,200 runners who managed to get a place were four members of Carpe Diem Running Club, Faye Morse, Andrei Catalin Lopatnic, Ken Navas, Monica Howes and Michael Rugeroni who is not a club runner.

The 101 Legion de Ronda is touted as the most physically demanding ultra-marathon in Andalusia and involves running, cycling or walking 101km (63 miles) over rugged terrain in just 24 hours.

Mr Navas finished in 19 hours and 48 minutes. The 49 year old dad of three said, “For a good 10 of the 19 hours it was a constant mental wrestle of reasons for abandoning the race countered by reasons to continue. As the cooler hours set in, the reasons to continue won the fight.”

“As the race wore on I was sure that there was no way I would ever do that race again, but by the next morning I was already booking hotels for next year.”

Ms Morse finished 7th in her age group, out of 156, with an official time of 13 hours and 52 minutes. She was the 27th female to finish out of 837.

The 47 year old is originally from Birmingham and has been working in Gibraltar since 2006, said: “I decided to do it as I had heard a lot about it. I got into ultra-running during the lockdown and it seemed like one of those races on our doorstep that I just had to do.”

The mum of two, who is a seasoned ultra-marathon runner, added: “I didn’t think there were any times that I thought I wouldn’t finish it, as I’ve run further than that with more elevation, so I had that in the back of my mind. I ran a 100-mile (160km) ultra-marathon in Jaén, Spain, in 2021.”

“That was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I was getting flashbacks, as the terrain is very similar. I knew I was going to get to the end, it was just how long it was going to take me.”

“When I finished it, I was buzzing. I found my family and my dog 2kms before the end, so as I trudged up the final climb into the town, they spotted me and came running to me.”

“I was feeling a bit rough at this point, so they gave me a lift for the last push, running through the streets to the finish line with me, which was amazing,” she added.

The event started in Ronda before passing through the white villages of Arriate, Setenil de las Bodegas, Alcalá, Montejaque and Benaoján, before returning to Ronda.

“It’s so difficult to get a place in the race as it’s so popular, it’s like winning the lottery,” said Ms Morse.

“You have to pre- register and then on the day you have to sit on your computer pressing refresh and trying to get a place. Strangely, a number of us from Gibraltar were all trying and we all got a place bar one, so maybe it helps to be on an IP address outside of Spain.”

She stated that her favourite part was running through the villages. With Arriate being described by her as “absolutely incredible” with both sides of the streets were packed with people screaming and high fiving making her feel “like a rock star.”

“That happened in multiple locations. The atmosphere was just amazing. I heard there were 20,000 people lining the streets. It was an emotional experience and the scenery was just beautiful,” she said.

“Normally ultra-marathons are quite small events, but there were between 4,000 to 5,000 people at the start singing and chanting. It’s so well supported; you feel like you’re in a big marathon rather than a trail event. The ultras I have done before don’t have crowds supporting you like that, so that was really special.

Her least favourite part was the heat, it was almost 30c and the sun was beating down and radiating back up from the ground.

“I was really hot and I hadn’t trained in the heat. It was 8pm before the temperature started going down. The last climb into Ronda really took it out of me,” she said.
Despite how tough it is Ms Morse would recommend it.

“I just loved it. It’s hard to put into words really, I knew when I crossed the line I would definitely do it again,” she said.

“I was ill in the run up to the event, and I felt sick every now and again, perhaps due to the heat as well, but my legs felt strong as I had done a lot of training before the event, and it got me excited to know what I am capable of.”

In a few weeks Ms Morse will compete in the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa, a distance of 88km/55 miles. A race that is regarded as the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon race.

Mr Lopatnic made it to 85km and Ms Howes and Mr Rugeroni stopped around 45km, both of these runners have finished it in previous years.

For more information about the running club visit

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