Trail Running in Mauritius
Thousands of local and foreign trailers joined in the 10th annual Ferney Trail Run to raise funds for the physically handicapped and nature conservation in Mauritius.
Everybody wants to go to Mauritius, at least once, but my love for this island and its people have opened the door to many opportunities. I visit often ‘to work' (a writer's brain is always looking for the next story angle), I drive myself around, I have a Mauritian mobile phone number. Oh, and a tattoo of a dodo on my right shoulder – and I was one of those who swore she'd never have one.
There's something in the air, literally, that rejuvenates body and soul from the minute my feet hit the tarmac at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (research by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2015 rates the island's air quality one of the best in the world). Having previously hiked up Le Morne Brabant, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for the shelter it provided runaway slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries, in the southwest, I jumped at the chance to cover a trail run in the protected La Vallée de Ferney (Ferney Valley) in the southeast.
Ferney Trail Run
The Valley is about an hour's drive from Long Beach Golf and Spa Resort on the Mauritian east coast, my hotel for this trip. I was part of a select group of media invited to run, walk and hike through intersecting routes of the annual Ciel Ferney Trail in September 2017, easily the single largest sporting event on the island by number of participants, playing host to 3 200 trailers. This included about 30 handicapped people who completed the course under the supervision of Inclusion Mauritius group NGO volunteers and Ciel staff. Among them was the physically handicapped 12-year-old Ethan, who was carried by a team of volunteer trailers along the Nando's 10km track in a special chair usually used for the Rod Trail on nearby Rodrigues Island.
The Ferney Valley is a 200ha sanctuary for rare or endangered indigenous species such as the Mauritian falcon known as the kestrel. A publicprivate partnership between the Government of Mauritius and Ciel Group ensures the restoration and protection of this part of the island's rapidly diminishing heritage – less than two percent of the indigenous ecosystems on Mauritius are still intact.